GMFC Youth Fiddle Workshop

 The first annual Grand Master Fiddler Championship Youth Fiddle Workshop was held June 30th, 2022 from 9:30am to 4:30pm at the W.O. Smith Music School (1125 Eighth Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203). The workshop is for ages 18 and under and is completely free to attend.


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The workshop is tailored toward intermediate level players although beginner and advanced level players are welcome to attend. Intermediate level means that students are able to hold the fiddle and bow correctly, find notes in 1st position without help, play some scales, and have learned some basic repertoire (either fiddle styles or classical). The workshop is focused on introducing fiddling to students who are either unfamiliar with it and/or in need of direction to further their skills.


The workshop featured professional musicians from the Nashville area as instructors and includes lead instructor Justin Branum (Grand Ole Opry Staff Band and former Grand Master Fiddler Champion), special guest instructor Larry Franklin (Grammy award winning Nashville session musician and member of “The Time Jumpers”), Marcia Campbell (Grand Ole Opry Square Dancers), along with our staff rhythm section consisting of “Ranger Doug” Green (Grammy award winning member of the “Riders in the Sky” and “The Time Jumpers”) and Mike Bub (Grammy award winning Nashville session musician and in demand touring musician).


The workshop schedule has descriptions of the individual classes for the day. We will be giving all students sheet music/tab, audio files, workshop mementos, and more. Lunch will not be provided; however we will take an hour and thirty-minute break for students to get their own lunch in the downtown Nashville area which has a huge selection of great restaurants. We will also offer snacks and water during breaks.  


Registration is limited to 30 people. There is no cost for the workshop.  For more information, please email

The location for this workshop is the W. O. Smith School of Music, 1125 8th Ave. S, Nashville, TN 37203.





9:00AM-9:30AM           ARRIVAL AND CHECK-IN

Students arrive and pickup workshop materials.




In this class we will examine four essential fiddle tunes that bridge the styles of old-time, contest, bluegrass, and western swing fiddling. We will pick at least one of these tunes to learn in class by ear. All tunes will have detailed sheet music, tablature, audio files of the tune both slow and fast, and audio files of the accompaniment both slow and fast, so that students can easily keep working on the tunes at home. Students will learn the historical context/purpose of these tunes, an introduction to the common styles of fiddling in the US, the importance of good bowings, and a method for breaking down material and learning by ear for continued study.


10:30AM-11:30AM        BASIC IMPROV CLASS

Instructor:  JUSTIN BRANUM

This class will focus on getting students comfortable with improvisation. Students will learn to play over the 12-bar blues in G using the minor pentatonic scale, blues scale, and basic chord tones. We will also look at how to use improvisation in a variety of situations like jamming or playing in bands. Sheet music/tab, handouts, and audio files will be provided for all concepts taught. 


11:30AM-1:00PM           LUNCH BREAK


1:00PM-2:00PM            JAM CLASS


Jamming is one of the most enjoyable parts of fiddling and also tremendously helpful in building your skills as a player. For this class we’ll learn jam etiquette and playing with a rhythm section. We will use the tune(s) taught in the essential fiddle tunes class and the concepts from the improvisation class, so that students who haven’t learned fiddle repertoire prior to the workshop can participate. Part of what makes jamming such a great way to improve is playing with musicians who push your abilities. This will be an amazing opportunity to play with pro musicians in a fun and laid-back atmosphere! 


2:00PM-2:15PM              BREAK




Grammy award winning fiddler Larry Franklin will play for us and talk about his amazing career as a Nashville session musician. Larry is currently a member of The Time Jumpers and comes from a very important fiddling family in Texas where he also racked up many wins as one of the best contest fiddlers of all-time. Larry is a former member of the western swing super group, Asleep at the Wheel and played on countless hit records in many different genres as a session fiddler. This class will give us the unique opportunity of hearing Larry in action along with getting to ask him lots of questions. 


3:15PM-3:30PM             BREAK


3:30PM-4:30PM            SQUARE DANCE CLASS


Dancing is an integral part of American fiddling and was the original purpose of most traditional fiddle tunes. Students will receive expert instruction from Grand Ole Opry square dancer Marcia Campbell and learn basic steps along with the historical background of square dancing. The dance band will consist of our staff rhythm section and lead instructor, plus students can also jump in and get some experience playing for a dance. 


4:30PM                               PRIZE DRAWINGS

We have several special prizes to give away to students at the conclusion of the workshop.



Funding for this educational program is made possible by a grant from the Tennessee Nonprofit Arts & Culture Recovery Fund  and the Tennessee Arts Commission.

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