Colorado Roots Music Camp
Camp I


June 4-10 2023

Arrival: 4:00pm Sunday
Departure: 9:00am Saturday 


Colorado Roots Music
Camp I

June 4-10, 2023

Arrival: 4:00–5:00pm Sunday
Departure: 9:00am Saturday 


Daily Instrument Classes

taught by professionals

Daily Jams & Music Circles

All Camp Harmonium

Classes Offered


Fiddlin’ the First Day (Level 1-2) – Joe Craven

From “which end of this thing do I hold to blow into” to beginners having already shaken hands with the bowed wonder, Joe focuses on the driven bow…getting folks comfortable in the engine room of the violin. Remember, the left hand is the steering wheel…but the bow arm gets you out of the driveway and delivers the eggs! It’s poultry in motion!  Oh… and we’ll learn a few tunes, too!

Building a Fun and Rewarding Band (Level 2-4) – Dave Firestine
In this class we will build a band with the many talented individuals who dare to show up. Learning an instrument is rewarding by itself; this is an opportunity to take the next step: playing together, harmoniously, with like minded people.

Intermediate Old-Time Fiddle (Level 2-3) – Gretchen Priest
What makes fiddling so endearing? Rhythm is King and Melody is Queen! The bow is what drives good timing and what makes a melody sing! Learn tips on bow hold and flexibility for good tone. We will touch on the “Fun”damentals of Time signature, strong & weak beats. Listen and feel left hand frame for intonation in the keys (sound pattern vs finger pattern). We will cover a variety of OT tunes and we might learn an Irish tune too. Level 2 – 3

Advanced Bluegrass Fiddle Class: Vocal Bluegrass vs. Instrumental (Level 3-4) – Gretchen Priest
In will learn a variety of Instrumental “Fiddle” tunes; some with high-speed bowing and variations on the tune. Music theory simplified as we cover the “KEY issues” of the chord and scale patterns to know your harmony whether playing fiddle or singing. Learn How to improvise on the melodies of the Vocal Bluegrass Songs. Identify the song form, the key and chord tones with scale and arpeggios.Add in that lonesome sound using bluegrass techniques, and back up fiddle. Level 3 -4


Bluegrass 5-String Banjo (Level 1-2) – Tim May
In this class we will look at the basics of bluegrass banjo from three-finger rolls and chords to harmonized scales. We will talk about how to approach a simple solo on any song as well as banjo ‘back-up’ open and ‘up-the-neck’. Hands-on, lots of playing.

Building a Fun and Rewarding Band (Level 2-4) – Dave Firestine
In this class we will build a band with the many talented individuals who dare to show up. Learning an instrument is rewarding by itself; this is an opportunity to take the next step: playing together, harmoniously, with like minded people.


Bluegrass Flatpicking Guitar (Level 3) – Tim May
In this class we will look at techniques needed to play bluegrass guitar, rhythm and lead. We will explore bass runs and alternating bass ideas for rhythm, chromatic runs and licks from Maybelle Carter to Tony Rice. We will get into all aspects of lead playing: how to create solos, improvising using the major scale, minor and major blues, introduction to ‘up-the neck- playing and more! Hands-on, lots of playing.

Building a Fun and Rewarding Band (Level 2-4) – Dave Firestine
In this class we will build a band with the many talented individuals who dare to show up. Learning an instrument is rewarding by itself; this is an opportunity to take the next step: playing together, harmoniously, with like minded people.

Intro to Swing Guitar (Level 2-3) – Sylvia Herald
Explore the basics in this supportive introductory class. We’ll dig into chords, strums, fretboard navigation, and how to make it swing! Expect lots of in-class playing and a selection of hand-picked songs to get you started in this deeply satisfying style.

Cowboy Songs for Voice and Guitar (Level 2-3) – Sylvia Herald
Learn an assortment of lesser-known gems concerning cowboys, life on the range, and the beauties of the West. We’ll cover several styles, including early American songs of the trail, recently composed, and Hollywood cowboy songs.


Additional Class Descriptions to come for 2023


2022 Class Examples below:

Beginning Guitar and Ukulele (All Levels) – Cosy Sheridan
Bring your guitar or ukulele to this class and we will learn how to some easy songs! We will learn simple chords and a basic strumming pattern. If you’ve had a guitar ( or ukulele) in your closet for years and always wanted to know how to operate it, this is the class for you!

Western Swing Class (All Levels) – Raul Reynoso
This one is fun, open to all levels, all instruments. Raul will lead you through the process of forming a Western Swing Band, taking some easy Bob Wills style tunes and arranging vocals and instruments to create a swinging little band. If you are a beginner, we will simplify the tunes in such a way that you will feel comfortable being in the rhythm section. More advanced players can take solos, and we will share vocal duties. Don’t forget to bring your boots and hats!

Fingerpicking Basics – Improve Your Tone and Technique (Level 2) – Jon Shain
We will cover alternate thumb and single-string thumb work, with lots of exercises to improve your tone and rhythm. We will look at some basic melody and chord arrangements of classic folk songs along the lines of Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotten. If you are not already familiar with Guitar Tablature, have no fear, you will be by the end of the first day.

First Guitar lead: Intro to Soloing (Level 2-3) – Cyd Smith
You’ve never tried to pay a lead on your guitar before? No problem! This is a start-where-you-are class where you find out how you can use what you already know to play a viable solo. This class works across a variety of styles. We’ll look at different approaches to playing leads, using riffs, melodies, chords, and simple scales as a basis for improvisation.

Improvising with Acoustic Blues (Level 2-3) – Jon Shain
We will look at improvising in both solo and group contexts in this week-long deep dive into acoustic blues. We will look at song forms, multi-use riffs, bass-line ideas, rhythms, and improvisation techniques – and maybe a bit of music theory. We’ll use some classic blues tunes as our fodder for learning all of these techniques. You do not need to be a strong alternate thumb picker to gain a lot from this class.

Bluegrass Flatpick Guitar (Levels 3) – Tim May
In this class we will look at techniques for playing rhythm in a bluegrass or country group, from alternating bass to runs using scales and blues ideas. We will do workouts for improvisation and look at how the masters of the style created solos (Tony Rice, Norman Blake, Clarence White, Doc Watson). We will look at how to put the blues in bluegrass solos, crosspicking, harmonized scales and more.

Intro to Django (Level 3-4) – Raul Reynoso
This class is designed to introduce you to the wonderful world of virtuoso guitarist Django Reinhardt and Parisian Hot Club Swing! Django continues to be one of the most influential musicians in history, and echoes of his music are even heard in the playing of Bluegrass legend Clarence White. We’ll learn the basic chord shapes unique to this style, and special right hand techniques to get you playing Django favorites like Minor Swing- By the end of the week, you’ll be well on your way to starting your own “Django” band.

Great American Songbook Repertoire (Levels 3-4) – Cyd Smith
The Great American Songbook is “the loosely defined canon of significant early-20th-century American jazz standards, popular songs, and show tunes” (thank you Wikipedia). In this class, we’ll spend some time listening to and playing through a selection of these jazz/swing standards. We’ll also look at common patterns–progressions and song structure–that show up repeatedly in these songs. Why? Because once you recognize these patterns, it’s easier to go out and conquer new standards on your own!


Basically Bass (Level 1-2) – Cindy Browne Rosefield
Starting with the basics, we’ll work on left/right hand techniques. We will explore all the possibilities of the bassist role, from sideman to soloist, and even have some fun becoming a “melody” instrument through basic improvisation. Feel free to bring a song you’d like to explore. Open to all instrumentalists and vocalists to sit in and learn a few tricks of the bass trade.

Swinging, Groovin’ and Soloing Bass (Level 3-5) – Cindy Browne Rosefield
We’ll work on making your bass lines dance in different styles including swinging 2-beat and walking bass, Latin grooves, funky R&B and rock bass lines. We’ll also ‘dig’ deeper into the harmonic and melodic function of tunes and work on soloing concepts via a tune a day.


Swing Yer Mando . . . do-si-do! (Level 2-4) – Joe Craven
Swing Yer Mando… do-si-do! In this class, “Dancing” with your mandolin means how the “right” hand rhythm gives you style; swing, blues, shuffles, stomps, 2 beat…and more. It’s all in the wrist – and how you play your hand – at not what you play but how it feels! We’ll learn some tunes and how they sound with your groovy self!

Left Hand Literacy (Level 2-3) – Dave Firestine
In this class, we will learn how to build chords, and find efficient ways of moving from one to another. We will look at arpeggios, the series of notes that make up chords, and use this knowledge to help with improvisation. We will also look at left hand ornaments: slides, hammer-ons , pull-offs and.….there will also be fun.

Building a Fun and Rewarding Band (Level 2-4) – Dave Firestine
In this class we will build a band with the many talented individuals who dare to show up. Learning an instrument is rewarding by itself; this is an opportunity to take the next step: playing together, harmoniously, with like minded people.

Additional Class Descriptions to come for 2023

Song Writing

Class Descriptions to come for 2023


2022 Class Examples below:

Songwriting (All Levels) – Cosy Sheridan
Songwriting is a craft – and  an art. There are moments of inspiration: when a song seems to be delivered into our ear and all we have to do is write it down. And then there is the rest of the time: when we need  tools and some knowledge of how to use them. This workshop will be a hands-on exploration of the tools we can use to build an effective vehicle for the song inside us. We will have in-class exercises. We might go off and write for 15 minutes and then come back and share it with the group. Bring your instrument and paper and a pen.

Singing, Swinging, Sliding, Writing, Performing, Theorizing, Harmonizing (All Instruments)

Building a Fun and Rewarding Band (Level 2-4) – Dave Firestine
In this class we will build a band with the many talented individuals who dare to show up. Learning an instrument is rewarding by itself; this is an opportunity to take the next step: playing together, harmoniously, with like minded people.

Additional Class Descriptions to come for 2023


2022 Class Examples below:

Harmony Roundup (All Levels) – Jennifer Scott
Using a variety of roots music styles, let’s explore the wonderful world of Harmony! Duets, Trios and, if we have enough singers, Four part. Let’s learn some Brother/Sister harmonies, a cool jazz tune, and much more!

The Singer’s Toolkit (All Levels) – Jennifer Scott
This class will cover simple, fun but comprehensive vocal techniques to ease you into a more comfortable singing style. We will cover breathing techniques, vocalizes that suit the non-classical singer, strength & tone building exercises. We will focus on some common issues vocalists worry about: vocal strain, singing through your “break” and much more! We’ll also use repertoire to help illustrate how to sing with more ease. All levels welcome.

Jam Classes & Informal Jams

There will be jam classes and a lot of spontaneous jamming during the camp, so join in as they are big fun. If you’re a newbie and experiencing the (unfounded) “Jam Fear” that everyone does, don’t be intimidated. Everyone experiences Jam Fear when they start, if they have any sense. At first it may be a little scary, but it’ll soon turn into a lot of fun. Some reasons you might hesitate:

  • “They’re going to hear me mess up.” No, they’re all busy trying to do their own thing. Very rarely in the average jam does anyone even hear the stuff you’re doing, since they’re worried about their own.
  • “I’ll make mistakes.” Yes, you will, as everyone does, and if you’re not beating the daylights out of your instrument, you’re the only one who will hear them.
  • “I’ll be put on the spot.”  No, in a jam, you can always choose to hang back. If anyone calls on you to take a solo, a shake of your head is a perfectly legitimate response.
  • “I can’t keep up.”  Maybe so, maybe not. If you can’t, you can still play the chords or notes that sound OK to you as the music passes by.

The fact is that just like that cold water, it’s sometimes a bit scary to jump in the first time, but once you’re used to it, you’re telling everyone that they should jump in; what a bunch of weenies! Please, give the jams a try which may include: Swing Jams, Slow Jams, Bluegrass Jams, Acapella Jams, Honkey Tonk Jams or Old Time Jams.

Jam Classes

Fiddle Tune Jam All Instruments (All Levels) – Dave Firestine
Roots is all about playing together! At this jam we will play tunes from many traditions but focusing on familiar tunes. Do not be surprised if we try some French Canadian and Irish tunes. In reality, the focus of this jam will be decided by You, the jammers! Let’s find a groove and ride it!

Registration Fees

Online registration opens one year prior to the retreat.

Online registration opens one year prior to the retreat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Charlie Hall Scholarship Fund?

As the founder of Colorado Roots Music Camp, Charlie Hall was a trail blazer in bringing quality music instruction to the Pikes Peak region. In pursuit of this, he also gathered informal scholarship money to support younger students who were unable to financially afford attendance at Roots. In recognition of this forward thinking approach to growing young musicians, the Charlie Hall Scholarship Fund was officially launched at the end of the June 2018 camp. Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp (RMMC), which has been home to Roots since its beginning in 2006, has taken the opportunity to continue Charlie’s outreach by formalizing the scholarship. As a 501(c)3, RMMC is able to offer a charitable receipt for contributions to the scholarship fund. GO DONORS!


  • How to give: Donors can support the next generation of musicians by writing a check to Roots Music Camp earmarked “Charlie Hall Scholarship Fund” and sending to: Roots Music Camp, 709 County Rd 62, Divide CO, 80814. Donations accepted by credit card as well by calling the camp office (719-687-9506).
  • Who my apply: College age and younger (age 25), preference to first time campers.
  • How to apply: Contact the Colorado Roots Camp Office by email at ([email protected]) for application details.
  • Scholarship amount: Full Registration for Chalet, Rustic Cabin or Campground accommodations. Commuters too!
  • Number of scholarships: As funds allow for student interest, our goal is for 1-2 scholarships per camp session. Unfortunately, if there are no donors, there is no scholarship. Again, GO DONORS!
  • Awarded Scholarships: Scholarship applications will be reviewed and awarded by the Colorado Roots Music Camp Leadership Team.

Do you have wi-fi or cell phone reception?

A wi-fi signal is available in most facilities. Because of camp’s remote location and limited availability of high internet speeds, video or music streaming is not available. With cell phone reception limited at main camp, a land line phone is available in the office foyer of the Dining Hall/Lodge. Ridge accommodations (Eagle’s Nest, Rocky Ridge, Sky-Hi-View, Solitude Center) have limited service based on individual carriers.

What foodservice is offered? Can you accommodate dietary restrictions?

Camp is pleased to offer a great selection of food choices which include a main dish option, vegetarian option, salad (lunch & supper), and dessert (lunch & supper). Cold beverages (water, orange, apple, grape, crabapple) and hot beverages (coffee, tea, hot chocolate) are also provided.

As much as possible, the camp will accommodate dietary restrictions. An option will be given to list all of your dietary restrictions during registration. We cannot accommodate dietary preferences.

RMMC is not a peanut/nut free location since we serve a variety of campers and guest groups utilizing their own kitchen facilities.

What should I bring to camp?

  • Warm casual clothing (sweatshirts, jeans, etc.)
  • Light coat/jacket
  • Rain gear
  • Cap or hat for sun protection
  • Comfortable hiking shoes or boots
  • Warm sleepwear
  • Bedding is only required for chalet and rustic cabin accomidations unless requested as a part of online camp registration
  • Bathroom items (soap, shampoo, towel, etc.)
  • Flashlight
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottle
  • Money for Trading Post: Roots Camp
  • Camera
  • Instruments

What should I NOT bring to camp?

  • Pets (large or small)
  • Firearms
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Illicit drugs
  • Marijuana
  • Dirt bikes
  • Firework
  • Four Wheelers
  • Drones

How can I prepare for altitude and weather at camp?

ALTITUDE – Camp’s elevation is 9,620 feet so it is important for campers and guests to take time to adjust to the high altitude. About one in four visitors to Colorado suffer from acute mountain sickness, the mildest form of altitude illness. Common symptoms include headaches, shortness of breath, fatigue and dry throat. Things you can do to minimize or avoid altitude sickness include:

Drink plenty of water before and during your time here to prevent dehydration.
Avoid strenuous exercise (hiking, jogging, etc.) and salty foods when you first arrive.
A good first night’s rest is very helpful in giving your body time to acclimate.
If coming from sea level or low elevation, a day or night spent in Colorado Springs (6,035 ft) will help allow your body more time to adjust to the change in altitude.

SUNBURN – The sun is more intense at this altitude so be mindful of how quickly sunburn can occur. Use adequate sun protection including sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) or clothing (long sleeves, hat or cap) for outdoor activities. Reapply sunscreen periodically throughout the day as needed.

SUMMER WEATHER – Each day offers a sample of the seasons: spring in the morning; summer in the afternoon; fall in the evening. Even winter can be represented in early June with snow! Rain and hail storms can also come at a moment’s notice just to keep things interesting. Being prepared with appropriate clothing is the key to enjoying the variety of weather the Rocky Mountains offer!

WINTER WEATHER – Colorado winter temperatures range from -10°-0°F at night to a high of 35°-45°F during the day. Because of low humidity (8-10%) temperatures feel like 45°-65°F. Sunshine makes all the difference with an average of 300 days of sun per year. Clothing items to bring include: warm winter coat, snow pants, gloves, snow boots, and hat.

PATHS & WALKWAYS (WINTER) – Be aware that paths and walkway conditions (especially on slopes) are a direct result of changing weather conditions (snow, melting & freezing temperatures). While the camp will do its best to remove snow and spread gravel, we need your help to take care and caution as you walk.

WINTER DRIVING CONDITIONS – Be aware that road conditions are a direct result of changing weather conditions (snow, melting and freezing temperatures). While we plow the road to camp and to facilities, plan for the conditions to be snow packed and slick. Four-wheel drive vehicles and two-wheel drive vehicles with chains or bands are recommended.

LOST & FOUND – Any item left behind by a guest will be kept for two weeks and then donated to charity.

QUIET HOURS – In consideration of others, noise should be kept to a minimum between 10:30 p.m. – 8:00 a.m.

SMOKING – RMMC is a smoke free facility. Smoking is only permitted in the outside designated areas, and only when a fire restriction is not in place. Every precaution must be taken to prevent a forest fire.

What are your creation care practices?

STREAMS & POND – Please keep the mountain streams clean and do nothing that would pollute them. While clean, it is unsafe to drink from the stream and pond.

TRAILS – Please stay on trails and roadways when hiking. This allows the plants to maintain a strong root system and prevents the fragile hillsides from eroding away.

TRASH & RECYCLING – Litter should be put in trash receptacles to maintain the natural beauty of the mountains. Recycling bins are located in the foyer by the Dining Halls and in cabins with kitchens or kitchenettes.

WILDFLOWERS, TREES, & ROCKS – Please do not pick wildflowers or other plants. Leave natural and historical objects in their place for others to observe and enjoy. Standing trees, living or dead, must not be cut or carved. Rocks are not to be rolled or thrown from high places or thrown at any time.

WILDLIFE – Please enjoy wildlife from a distance and leave wildlife alone in their habitat. Do not leave food outside for animals of any size (chipmunks, foxes, deer, bear) for your safety and theirs.

Do you have to be Mennonite to attend camp?

While teachings during the retreat are Bible-based and from a Mennonite perspective, campers of all faiths are respected and welcome to attend.