Friday Workshops and Master Classes

In 2014 the Cygnet Folk Festival will continue the successful Master Class series of workshops that began last year. These classes are programmed separately from the Festival, on the Friday preceding the opening of the Festival. The cost is only $50 for a 4 hour masterclass, with musicians and a storyteller, all of whom are truly leaders in their fields.

The Masters Class will run on Friday, 10 January 2014, from 11.00 am to 3.30 pm, with half an hour break for lunch. Weekend Festival tickets do not cover these Friday Master Classes, but will cover other shorter workshops during the Festival.

The instrumental sessions will all conclude with the three groups combining forces to learn a piece that participants will perform on stage at the Festival.

Numbers are limited to 20 people for each workshop.

We hope to see you all honing your skills.

Erin Collins, Artistic Director




George Jackson


georgeGeorge Jackson started playing the banjo when he was 14 after finding his Dad's old banjo in the back of his parent's storage hold. Enchanted by the twang, George has gone on to win the CMAA Australian banjo contest at Tamworth Country Music Festival and teach at the Australian banjo conference for the last two years. Most recently on his 4 month journey to the USA George won the 2013 Rockygrass banjo Contest in Lyons, Colorado.

George is grounded in the three finger style picking style, and brings his melodic intuition from fiddle playing to form a unique approach.

Attendees will learn more about three finger picking techniques, ranging from the Scruggs style, Melodic picking to single string technique and hybrid styles. You'll be left with a broader understanding and range of techniques to access and have a chance to perform at the festival en masse.


Steve Berry

Bluegrass to Newgrass - the art of flat picking guitar

Steve Berry is a two time National Flat-picking Champion, and cut his teeth (and fingernails) on the steel string guitar when he played with the progressive country band the Three Chord Wonders back in the 80's. Since then Steve has been at the forefront of contemporary acoustic guitar in Australia, playing with Coolangubra and a host of others including Kev Carmody, Kangaroo Moon and many instrumental groups under his own name. Appearing at Cygnet with his new international collaboration Jaaleekaay, Steve is also giving a bluegrass acoustic guitar masterclass, where you'll have the chance to develop your technique and understanding of the guitar's extended possibilities under his guidance.

Steve's masterclass will look into many areas of guitar playing that will stand you in good stead playing bluegrass and many other styles - These include: Rhythm playing and bass lines, open chord voicing’s and inversions up the neck, right hand rhythm techniques and how to incorporate unusual rhythmic groupings into your playing. On the melodic front he'll be looking at riffs and fills, utilising open strings, cross picking, and how to develop a tune with your own unique interpretation. As a keen improviser, Steve will also offer tips and ideas relating to soloing over progressions and composing your own material on the guitar.


Jenny Thomas

Music and the Mind for String

Learn the tricks and methods to unlock your ability to play music with ease and joy. How does your own mind sabotage your playing? Why does playing in front of others sometimes feel like torture? Bringing the 'play' back into playing music through simple though revelatory truths known by master musicians but rarely taught. The learning of Scandinavian and Irish tunes will provide the template to explore deeply each participant’s physical and psychological relationship with their instrument. Yes, it is folk! Following in the tradition of Martin Hayes, Ravi Shanker and Oliver Schroer.

This workshop is ideal for string instrument players (guitar, mandolin, banjo, violin, viola, cello, harp).

Jenny M Thomas and the System


Jackie Kerin


Jackie is a traditional oral storyteller with 20 years experience. Her storytelling master-class will have a focus on traditional Apple Tales.

Traditional storytelling is rapidly gaining notice on the mainland with networks of tellers connecting around the country and overseas. Oral storytelling was recently celebrated in the key addresses of both the Sydney and Melbourne Writer’s Festivals.

“I have a sincere wish to inspire local tellers to learn the art of storytelling and link them into the wonderful global community of wordsmiths. I believe I am well positioned to do this, as I am the creator of the Storytelling Australia (Victoria) blog that unites Victorian tellers, I regularly attend the national conference hosted in Sydney, and recently represented Victoria at the Federation for European Storytelling Conference (Rome) and performed at the Italian International Storytelling Festival”


  • Port Fairy Festival: Pat Glover Memorial Storytelling Award 2002, 2007, 2009.
  • Woodford Festival: Spirit of Woodford Original Stories and Yarns Performance Award 2007, 2012.


  • My first picture book, Phar Lap the Wonder Horse was awarded an Eve Pownall CBCA Notable in 2009.
  • My new book, Lyrebird! a True Story is a CBCA Honour Book 2013 and received a Whitley Awards Certificate of Commendation.