Building Bluegrass Repertoire, Jason Wheeler

Music is best when shared with others! And bluegrass music has a long history as a community-oriented form of musical communication. This workshop will help you expand your repertoire, giving you more to share at jams and rehearsals! Get ready to examine bluegrass music from its origins to contemporary applications as you check out a couple of standards with easy skeleton melodies and chord progressions adaptable for all instruments and levels of experience. The goal is for everyone to learn a tune or two and better understand the evolution and community aspects of the bluegrass genre. 

Creating a chord chart, ear-training, playing melody, and improvising on melody will all be covered in this workshop. And feel free to bring a recorder to store information for future reference! 

Instructor Biography

Jason Wheeler, a touring musician, instructor, and executive director of the Great Lakes Music Camp, has been immersed in the mandolin for nearly two decades, focusing on old-time and bluegrass music. Having performed with Hawks & Owls String Band, Junior Valentine, Mark Lavengood, and Fauxgrass over the years, Jason has developed a love and appreciation for old music and a drive to reinvent himself as a human and instructor with each note. Jason has studied under Don Julin, Don Stiernberg, Bruce Ling, and several notable instructors and attended countless music camps throughout the last decade. For the past seven years, he has performed more than 100 shows annually with Fauxgrass and still maintains a steady teaching schedule. With a practical approach to instruction, Jason encourages students to enjoy the learning process and get as much time playing as possible.

Common Tunes

As we share time jamming this weekend at the facilitated and un-facilitated workshops, here are a few gems that commonly arise in any given bluegrass/old-time session. There is no obligation to learn this before any of the jams. Think of this as the alphabet for our musical discussions.


Salt Creek (A)

Salt Spring (A)

Big Mon (A)

Clinch Mountain Backstep (A)

Squirrel Hunters (A)

June Apple (A) 

Red Prairie Dawn (A)

Monroe’s Hornpipe (A)

Big Sciota (G)

Bury Me Beneath the Willow (G)

Temperance Reel (G)

Blackberry Blossom (G)

Nine Pound Hammer (G)

Billy in the Lowground (C)

Angelina Baker (D)

DeBuque (D)

Monroe’s Bluegrass Stomp (D)

Soldier’s Joy (D)

Golden Slippers (D/A)