For Musicians

Regarding cancellations:
The Germantown Country Dancers board has regretfully decided to cancel dances until further notice. We will continue to monitor the situation and are committed to returning to our regular dance schedule as soon we can safely do so.

Connect the Dots!
Three online workshops with Andrea Larson

Time and dates:
4:15 to 5:30 PM
Doors open at 4:00

  • Sunday, August 16 Rhythm
  • Sunday, August 23 Tone
  • Sunday, August 30 Harmony
  • These Workshops are entirely sponsored by Germantown Country Dancers. Donations to GCD will be graciously accepted. (Details after registration)

    In music notation, the little black dots on the page are just the tip of the iceberg. A musician's work on the fundamentals of music - rhythm, expression, tone, etc. "requires steady application, as do the things these fundamentals make possible" performing, playing in ensembles, playing for dancing, etc. If each day of practice was a dot on a graph and each element was plotted, web-like lines would emerge from the daily work. In this workshop, we will focus on strategies to create a continuously broadening foundation of musical skills that can be enjoyed by an individual and brought to a group.

    Andrea Larson, a guest teacher in the fall of 2014, loves to share practical solutions to the many parts of the puzzle that can make music satisfying – a good connection to your instrument, your band mates, yourself. How can these connections be forged? Learn to be more objective of your playing (and others’!), and to broaden your palette to support musical thoughts and expression.
    Bonus: Find the source of motivation for practicing through practice itself.

    This will be a practical workshop, so bring your instrument, a notebook and a pen. Wear comfortable clothes, bring a water bottle and be ready to work and play!

    Note: for this cyber session, PLEASE set up your workspace ahead of time so that you are lit from the front and your whole upper torso appears with your instrument. Head gear: some of us find it is preferable to play and listen if using headphones or ear buds. Mutes can be helpful, too.

    Details about the Workshops:
    Workshop #1
    Rhythm -- the essential and fundamental base of dance music
    How can we bring rhythm to life when we create dance music? Of all the elements of music, rhythm is the one that has the potential to bring joy to dancers – or to inspire our listeners to want to dance. In this first session we will zoom in and work with rhythm, befriend it, immerse ourselves in ways to practice HOW to play WHEN we mean to, when we want to. This brings us to tone – how do we know when a note begins? How can we be clear about it so that the rhythm becomes obvious? That question leads us to our next workshop.

    Workshop #2
    Tone -- the quality of a note
    How does a note sound? Can you tell when it begins? When it ends? Is it true (clear) and in-tune (for making harmony sing) and in time (for making great rhythm)? In this workshop we will explore these ideas in order to create some exercises for practicing our tone.

    Workshop #3
    Harmony -- making music sing
    In this last workshop, we will look at basic melody and harmony shapes and how they fit together. The construction of our dance melodies informs which kinds of harmonic patterns can be used to good effect. Lets take things apart, look at the skeletons of the melody and do some exercises to bring our harmony playing to a nimble place.

    About Andrea Larson: For over two decades, Andrea's passion for Swedish folk music and dance has led to performances across the northeast United States, the Midwest, and Sweden. She has fiddled for Christmas Revels in Cambridge and New Hampshire and New York, and recently performed with lydia ievins in a concert of Scandinavian music before 1800 under the auspices of Early Music New York. Andrea has enjoyed teaching at Ashokan Northern Week, Nordic Fiddles & Feet and Augusta Heritage Center.

    She is excited about sharing her treasure trove of teaching ideas from some of Sweden's best fiddlers. When not practicing, she teaches violin, voice, and fiddle styles from her home in Richmond, VA.

    RSVP for the entire series or one or more workshops





    GCD sponsors these workshops for the improvement of the music community and their support of the dancers. The modest membership fee ($12/year) helps keep the workshop fees low. target="_self" Please consider joining.

    If you would like an opportunity to participate in a future PlayShop please email Kathy Talvitie.

    Playing for Dancers: Our Vision

    Germantown Country Dancers (GCD) is committed to fostering a vibrant community of English Country Dancing in the Delaware Valley. This works best when dancers, musicians and callers are fully committed to working together.

    GCD offers a variety of workshops for dancers and musicians to achieve this goal, and also looks for other ways to nurture the development of local musicians.

    We hope that our musicians will love playing for our English Country dancers and will join us as a dedicated and appreciated part of our dance community.

    Music Workshops

    Each year GCD provides workshops for musicians. Our purpose is to give musicians an opportunity to learn more about the variety and uniqueness of English Country Dance music. Workshops also explore techniques to help musicians approach the English Country Dance repertoire and to provide great music for dancers. We invite well-known English Country Dance musicians to give workshops on playing for dancing. Past workshop leaders have included Jacqueline Schwab, Mary Lea, Barbara Greenberg, Bob Pasquarello, Kate Barnes, Robert Mills, Rick Mohr, Kathy Talvitie, and Chris Rua.

    Playing Music for our Wednesday dances

    The Wednesday Music Committee engages musicians to play for Wednesday evening dances. If you are a skilled musician who is familiar with English Country Dance music, is able to maintain steady rhythms, and can play at dance tempo, you may apply with a band to play for a Wednesday dance. Musicians should also be comfortable playing the tunes on the GCD Repertoire List.

    Open Band Opportunities

    Three times a year for our Wednesday dances we invite both skilled musicians and those who are learning the English Country Dance music genre to play for an “Open Band.” The tune list is available ahead of time, and a rehearsal is often planned before the evening of the dance.

    Fish and Chips

    Fish and Chips provides another opportunity for musicians to work together on the skills needed to play English Country dance music. This rehearsed band, led by Bob Pasquarello, is open to all local musicians. The ensemble meets several times to prepare for an annual GCD dance.


    If you have questions or suggestions about playing for Wednesdays, feel free to contact a member of the Wednesday Music Committee: (, Kirsten Erwin, and ). Questions about workshops? Contact who is responsible for GCD's Music Development.