Colorado Roots Music Camp
Camp II


August 11-17 2024

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


Colorado Roots Music Camp
Camp II


August 11-17, 2024

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


Daily Instrument Classes

taught by professionals

Daily Jams & Music Circles

All Camp Harmonium

2023 Class Schedule (2024 forthcoming)

2024 Instructors & Class Offerings

Dave Firestine

Mandolin FUNdamentals (Level 1) 
This course is designed for the beginning mandolin player. No experience required. However, if you are a more advance player and want to review some fundamental techniques, this is the perfect opportunity. We will begin with stretching, breathing, relaxing, and remembering to have fun! I will check your mandos for correct setup, strap setup, holding the mando and the pick. We will spend time playing with the proper pick direction, giving you the secrets to playing smoothly and at speed. We will learn some easy tunes, practicing the techniques described above. Join us for some fun, no shoes required.


Irish Mandolin – guitar too (Level 2-3)
When I first heard live Irish music, I was struck by the variety and intensity of emotion in this music. It has been part of my musical exploration since this first experience. My love of Irish music continues, and I would like to share it with you. In this class we will delve into the world of playing Irish music on the mandolin (and guitar). We will have a strong focus on right hand techniques to enhance the rhythmic drive of jigs, reels, and harnpipes. We will discuss traditional Irish improvisation and ornamentation. Backup techniques will be taught, and well as Irish session etiquette.

Abbie Gardner

In this class we’ll use a slew of fun writing games and exercises to get started. We’ll use a playful approach and practice turning memories into songs. Whether you’re a seasoned writer looking for fresh inspiration or totally new to writing songs and not sure how to start, this class will get you writing!


Love the sound of the lap-style slide guitar but not sure where to start? This class will get you set up and playing by the end of the week! We’ll find our way around melodies and chords using the classic Dobro open G-tuning. If you have a square neck resonator guitar, bring it! If you don’t, you’ll need to bring a regular guitar to temporarily “convert” to lap style playing. You’ll probably want to leave it set up this way all week, so bring an extra guitar for other classes & jams. **Equipment required is a “Nut raiser” and a solid metal slide bar. We’ll have a limited number of slides and nut raisers to borrow and/or purchase, but it’s even better if you can get them ahead of time! Links & options below. (level 2)

BAR (good for anyone with arthritis):
BAR: (basic, good company)
BAR: (less expensive option)

Conner Hollingsworth

Beginner Upright Bass (Level 1-2)
In the Beginner Upright Bass class we will focus on developing the fundamental skills that are required of a bassist to help every member of an ensemble really feel the groove and play their best. This will include developing a strong and beautiful sound, keeping rock-solid time, playing in tune, as well as understanding and hearing basic chord progressions. We will apply these skills to some timeless songs that showcase the foundations of roots music. Of course, the class will be flexible enough to adapt and benefit the needs of all who are involved.


Intermediate Upright Bass (Level 3-4)
In the Intermediate Upright Bass class we will start to tear down obstacles in our playing by exploring what to expect in a variety of settings such as bluegrass, swing, country, and blues. We will develop a concept of authentic sound through study of the masters. By learning skills such as walking bass, slap style, basic arco, and basic soloing concepts we will learn how to really put some fire in our performances. We will apply these skills to songs that showcase some more complex harmonic progressions. The class will naturally adapt for the benefit of all.

Tim May

Bluegrass Guitar (Level 3-4)
In this class we will look at how the flatpicking greats approached the style ( Doc Watson, Clarence White, Tony Rice, Dan Crary and others) and try to steal their ideas. You’ll get the tools you need to create solos and improvise: targeting chord tones, crosspicking, harmonized scales, and blues scales. We’ll work on some advanced rhythm techniques and look at how players like Maybelle Carter and Norman Blake took rhythm ideas and incorporated them into their solos. A comprehensive, intermediate-advanced class with lots of playing time.


Swing/Jazz Guitar (Level 3)
In this class we will look at how to solo over jazz chord changes. With tools like arpeggios and scale modes we can survive even the trickiest of chord progressions. We’ll cover techniques used by great horn players as well as guitar players: enclosures, chord extensions, approach notes and more. Improvisation is the heart and soul of jazz and we’ll look at practical methods for playing tastefully over any tune you might encounter. Lots of playing, lots of fun with practical info for swing/jazz jamming.

Ken Pearlman

Clawhammer Banjo (Level 2-3)
Improve your clawhammer technique and learn some great banjo tunes. We’ll make sure your basic stroke is on track, integrate fretting-hand techniques as hammer-ons, pull-offs, & slides, learn how to play in a few different banjo tunings, and discuss strategies for getting around the neck. If the class moves along quickly enough, we’ll also explore drop-thumbing & double-thumbing (using the thumb on both long strings and drone string). At each session, you’ll learn old-time fiddle tunes & song melodies that illustrate the skills just taught. Instruction will be via demonstration, ear, and tablature.


One-time Clawhammer Intro class (All Levels)
Get Started at Clawhammer Banjo in One Session. Learn the most common banjo tuning, a few simple banjo chords, and get introduced to the basic clawhammer stroke (often known as “bump-titty” or “bum-diddy”). Having a banjo in hand is recommended but not required.


Fingerpicking Fiddle Tunes for Guitar (Level 3)
Learn to play fingerstyle versions of simple old-time and Celtic fiddle tunes. We’ll start with arrangements that are immediately accessible to anyone who has mastered basic guitar chord shapes and Travis-picking. If the class moves along quickly enough we’ll also explore a more adventuresome approach that features melodies played above a moving bass line. Instructor Ken Perlman spent decades studying various old-time and Celtic fiddle traditions, including an intensive field recording project among traditional Celtic musicians on Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Gretchen Priest

Old-Time Fiddle Class (Level 2-3)
Old-Time tunes need bowings that make the melody pop and a dancing
rhythm. Learn how to free up the bow hand & arm by breathing and relaxing
the body. Focus on the “big beats” and the little ones find their way. We will
work on left hand frame to get on top of the “Key notes” for double stops and
drones and get the bow driving. We will look at tunes in major keys, modal
minor keys, square and crooked tunes. Learn by ear and there will be


Bluegrass Fiddle Class (Level 3-4)
We will look at some popular Bluegrass instrumental tunes and work on
driving bluegrass speed bowing techniques and back up chops with left hand
chords. Learn about what the fiddle needs to do in a vocal tune (kick oT , fills,
How to hear the melody of the song and find a fiddle solo). How you might
need to switch keys for a singer and adjust a song you know. Although it is not
a vocal class; we will sing, whistle or grunt what we are learning by ear and
there will be handouts.

Cindy Scott 

Parts is Parts – Singing Harmony (Level All)
Using some basic games designed to help develop your ear, we will explore the wonderful world of Harmony! You will learn how to find harmony parts on your own. We will sing in two parts, three parts, maybe even four parts! We’ll all work together in class to compose parts so that we can show off what we learned at the student concert on Friday! No class limit.


Finding Your Voice (Level All)
This class will give you a much better understanding of the voice as its own instrument. You will learn how to develop more power and control throughout your range OVER TIME, but there are likely to be some instant improvements, too. We will cover how that invisible mechanism actually works and how to improve range, tone, flexibility, and power. We will focus on some common issues vocalists worry about: vocal health, singing through your “break” and much more! No class limit.


One time Master Class: Mining for Magic Master Class (Level All)
“Great artists are people who find a way to be themselves in their art. Any sort of pretension induces mediocrity in art and life alike.” —Dame Margot Fonteyn, prima ballerina

In this two-hour class I’ll guide you towards crafting a deeper connection with yourself and your audience while performing. You may self-accompany or have someone play for you. All are welcome to attend (Limit 6 performers plus 2 alternates).

Cyd Smith

First Guitar Solo (Level 2-3)
Ready to bust out with your first guitar solo? Starting where you are, you’ll learn  how to use what you already know to play a coherent solo. We’ll use riffs, melodies, chords, and simple scales to launch you into confident lead playing.

First Swing Guitar Class (with uke audit track)  (Level 3)
We’ll get you familiar with swing feel, a few moveable 6th, 7th, and minor 7th guitar chords, and some great swing tunes, and before you know it you’ll be swinging like a…swing. There will be lots of playing in class, and uke players are welcome!

Doug Smith

Fingerstyle Guitar, The Next Step (Level 3-4)
Know some picking patterns? Understand the Travis pick? In this course, you’ll expand on normal pattern picking, play some more advanced arpeggios and add melody notes, using music from ragtime blues to the Beatles. For vocal accompaniment and instrumental playing. Ability to read tab will be helpful

Fingerstyle Guitar, The Beatles (Level 3-4)
Many of us have played Beatles songs in one form or another. In this class we’ll take a look at songs that were originally played fingerstyle, but also look at songs that were originally strummed that might lend themselves to a picking pattern….and even try our hand at a couple of fingerstyle arrangements. Do you have a favorite Beatles song? Let’s try it out! Ability to read tab will be helpful.

Keith Yoder



Radim Zenkl

The World Of Mandolin (Level 2-3) 
In this class we will cover the basics of blues, bluegrass and jazz (swing, Latin and modern styles) with the emphasis on improvisation in those styles, a step by step system on how to practice improvising, mapping out the whole fretboard, ‘modern’ chord forms and chord substitutions, open tunings, odd time signatures, slide mandolin technique and usage of the bottleneck slide in open and standard tunings, chord melody, arranging for solo mandolin, the ‘duo style’ and sound reinforcement ideas. Several handouts will be available.


Ear Training For All Players (Level 2-3) 
In order to grow as a musician, it is important to develop your ability to recognize what you hear in live music sessions and recordings, and then translate that to your instrument. This class will teach you to correctly recognize what you hear more quickly, allowing you to interpret and respond to music with greater conviction and expression because you are more certain of the notes you are hearing, playing and singing. It builds connections between your inner hearing (or aural imagination), your voice and your instrument. Melodic ear training: intervals, scales, modes. Harmonic ear training: harmonized scale, six basic types of chords and their extensions, chord progressions, key centers and modulations. It will be taught using well known songs and tunes. Main emphasis will be on practical use of this skill, making you better at your playing, singing, improvising, arranging, transcribing, teaching and composing. Printed materials will be provided and audio recording is encouraged. This class will be taught using the mandolin, guitar and keyboard though it is open to players of any instrument.

Jam Classes & Informal

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.

Registration Fees

Online registration opens one year prior to the retreat.

Online registration opens one year prior to the retreat.

Camp Staff

Cosy Sheridan, Co-Director

Cosy Sheridan has been called “one of the era’s finest and most thoughtful singer-songwriters.” She first caught the attention of national folk audiences in 1992 when she won both the Kerrville Folk Festival’s NewFolk Award and The Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour Contest, then released her critically-acclaimed debut CD Quietly Led on Waterbug Records. She has released nine CDs, her music is featured in the Robert Fulghum multi-media novel The Third Wish and she tours consistently throughout the US. Her concerts are wide-ranging explorations of modern mythology (meet Hades the Biker), love songs for adults, contemporary philosophy for the thoughtfully-minded and her signature parody on aging and women. Throughout this journey, her lyrical dexterity is backed by her distinctive, percussive bluesy-gospel guitar style. A guitar student of instrumental luminaries such as Guy Van Duser and Eric Schoenberg and a voice student at The Berklee School of Music, she brings a depth of experience to her craft. For the past 18 years, she has taught classes in songwriting, performance and guitar at workshops and adult music camps across the country including The Puget Sound Guitar Workshop and The Swannanoa Gathering. In 2008 she co-founded The Moab Folk Camp.

Dave Firestine, Co-Director

Dave pulls out the “take no prisoners” style of playing at every dance – bringing the tunes to their full potential and beyond. He is a tune-meister and music jams are super fun when he is in the driver’s seat.

Originally a drummer, his strong sense of rhythm and syncopation is the foundation of his playing and tune writing, and truthfully he is never happier than when he gets to pull out the laptop drum kit to back swing and honky tonk tunes. Don’t worry, he can access his sensitive side when playing waltzes and beautiful melodies.

Dave is a music vagrant retiree now, but before that, he was Senior Gyzmologist building lightning detection systems. He is currently playing with the dance bands STEAM! ( and The Privy Tippers.

Charlie Hall, Founder

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Music Education with emphasis in French horn, Charlie Hall started out as a member of the 6th US Army Band in San Francisco.  When real life reared its ugly head, he found he needed a day job, which he found in computers from 1983 to 2003.  From 2003 to his retirement in 2017, he was a full-time guitar, mandolin and bass teacher.  He’s taught high school band as well as classes in beginning guitar, fingerpicking, bluegrass guitar, music theory and jamming. Charlie was a founder and driving force of the Black Rose Acoustic Society in Colorado Springs, a favorite destination for roots musicians and roots music fans.  He performed for ten years with the popular folk/bluegrass band Black Rose, was a finalist in the 2000 National Fingerpicking Championship and was nominated Bluegrass Guitarist of the Year in 1996 by the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society. With his wife Marianne Danehy, Charlie was creator & co-director of the Colorado Roots Music Camp from 2006-2017.  He and Marianne are thrilled to hand off management of the Roots Camp to the folks at the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp as well as Cosy Sheridan and Raul Reynoso.

December 11, 2018, we said goodby to Charlie who passed away after a valiant battle with brain cancer. He leaves behind a large legacy of music and education and those who knew him are better for it.  May we all carry on his legacy of life, love and life-long music!

Marianne Danehy, Founder

Marianne Danehy discovered “her people” around 2002; that is, those who played roots music.  From 2005 to 2014, she taught violin and fiddling in Colorado Springs, and is a registered instructor with the Suzuki Association of the Americas.  Undaunted by two degrees and a former life in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics, she’s the mother of two nearly-grown kids, William and Anna. Marianne is an excellent teacher and an expert at getting folks started both on violin and fiddle styles.  From 2006-2017, along with her husband Charlie Hall, she was co-director of the Colorado Roots Music Camp.

Alumni Staff

Colorado Roots Music Camp has enjoyed wonderful and talented instructors over the years since its beginnings in 2006. Our thanks to them for thier part of the rich legacy and music community created each week.


Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I learn more about my stay at RMMC (i.e. accommodations, altitude, creation care).

Please visit the “Reservation Guide” page of the Rocky Mountain website for “YOUR STAY WITH US”, “MOUNTAIN LIVING” & “CREATION CARE” information.

What foodservice is offered? Can you accommodate dietary restrictions?

Camp is pleased to offer a great selection of food choices (View Food Service) 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.

If flying in from Denver (DIA) or Colorado Springs (COS), how can I get to camp?

Transportation to camp can be done via Uber or other hired transportaition OR if someone you already know is coming can offer you a ride. Frequently, after a week of good music and fellowship, folks have found a ride to Colorado Springs or Denver from people already heading that way.

If flying, it’s hard to beat the Colorado Springs airport (COS) as the closest airport to camp. Of course, ticket prices are what they are and you might find a better rate into Denver International Airport (DIA). Groome Transportation offers shuttle service between Denver and Colorado Springs for around $55 each way).

Can visitors be invited to Roots Music Camp during my stay?

Only campers and their paid companions are allowed at the camp. Limited guest tickets (5or so) are available on a first come/first serve basis for someone you’ld like to bring to an evening concert ($15/person) and  share the evening with. Be a good friend to Roots Music by inquiring about availability with the Roots office staff the day BEFORE your visitor might come.

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.

What should I NOT bring to camp?

  • Pets of all sizes (Note: if you have a disability, please contact camp about your service animal)
  • Firearms
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Illicit drugs
  • Marijuana
  • Dirt bikes
  • Firework
  • Four Wheelers
  • Drones

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.