Old Time Banjo Retreat
Join two expert players and wild enthusiasts of the old time banjo for a weekend that will expand your playing, your knowledge and spark your own banjo joy.

Cathy Fink has taught thousands of in person lessons and literally sold over 10,000 online old time banjo lessons. She’s both a tune player and song accompanist and began playing banjo in 1974, becoming the first woman to win the West Virginia State Banjo Contest (1980) and the Clifftop Appalachian Old Time Banjo Contest (2018).

Victor Furtado is the recipient of the prestigious 2019 Steve Martin Banjo Prize and a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music. While steeped in tradition, he has taken old time banjo to new sounds that include world music rhythms, Swedish polskas and original techniques.

Cathy and Victor will each teach 4 workshops and lead a masterclass and two jam sessions together. Special guests Rachel Eddy and Em Hammond will lead the Saturday afternoon jam session and join the Saturday evening concert. Marcy Marxer will join jam sessions and the concert. Concert tickets are included in the cost of registration.

Banjo Weekend will occur at School of Musical Traditions in downtown Takoma Park, MD, right around the corner from House of Musical Traditions. The neighborhood offers plenty of places to meet, greet, eat, and hang out.

This event is limited to 30 attendees, and geared towards intermediate and advanced players.

Scholarships are available. To apply for financial assistance, write to lessons@schoolofmusicaltraditions.com

Schedule of Events

+ Friday, February 16
+ Saturday, February 17

10:00 am – 11:15 am

Cathy: Connecting the Dots - Intermediate
Listen to and recognize the similarities from one tune to another and and learn to use that knowledge to more quickly learn tunes on the fly. We will do this in both double C tuning and G tuning.

Victor: Swedish Music for Clawhammer Banjo - Advanced
Learn a Swedish Polska in Bb out of double C tuning

11:30 am – 12:45 pm

Cathy: Singing With the Banjo - ALL levels
The accompaniment needs to serve the song, but still be interesting. We’ll explore ways to not get in the way of the lyrics while playing, ways to enhance the lyrics wile playing and ways that the banjo keeps the song moving forward.

Victor: Sugar Hill - ALL levels
Learn the classic tune and 4 variations including the galax lick, double thumbing, the cluck, and the open string pull off.

12:45 pm – 2:15 pm

Lunch Break

2:15 pm – 3:30 pm

Victor: Darlin’ Corey in D tuning ( f# D F# A D) - Intermediate
There’s a bluesy tinge to Darlin’ Corey in the tuning best known for Reuben’s Train. Learn Darlin’ Corey and variations.

Cathy: Silver and Gold, New England Polka - Advanced
This is a very notey tune in the key of D, double C tuning, often played for contra dances. I learned it playing dances with Rodney Miller and Laurie Andres.

3:45 pm – 5:00 pm

Jam Session
Led by Rachel Eddy & Em Hammond

7:30 pm

Concert at Seeker’s Church
With special guests Marcy Marxer, Rachel Eddy, and Em Hammond

+ Sunday, February 18

10:00 am – 11:15 am

Victor: Listen and Learn - ALL levels
Using recordings, demonstrations and class practice we’ll discover multiple methods of making your playing dynamically more interesting. Listening to the great players and pulling the important techniques that they use, while learning to adapt them to your own style.

Cathy: Fancy Up Your Banjo Playing - ALL levels
16 ways to play the first note of Cripple Creek leads to variations that you can put into nearly any tune. Playing the melody in different registers, yes, sometimes even PAST the 5 th fret, will also do that.

11:30 am – 12:45 pm

Cathy & Victor Q&A
Technique swapping, tune swapping, etc.

12:45 pm – 2:15 pm

Lunch Break

2:00 pm – 3:15 pm

Jam Session and Goodbye
Led by Cathy, Victor, and Marcy

Health Protocols

We are following the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services guidelines for health and safety.

Registration Policy

We require a minimum of 3 attendees for all group classes & workshops. Classes will be cancelled if we have not met the 3-person minimum 72 hours in advance of the start time.

In the event of a cancellation, you may choose between either (1) a full refund, or (2) a full credit to private lessons or a future workshop.


Fri, February 16, 2024
Sat, February 17, 2024
Sun, February 18, 2024
Takoma SPARK
7112 Willow Ave
Takoma Park, MD 20912
$250 includes:
- 4 workshops on February 17 & 18
- Concert on February 17 at Seeker’s Church
- Jam Session Februrary 16 & 17

Scholarships are available. To apply for financial assistance, write to lessons@schoolofmusicaltraditions.com