Greetings Bluegrass Aficionados! Welcome to the Desert Bluegrass Workshop!
…..Session song links are at bottom of page.

Click on videos to play

Beginner slow jam song and an advanced uptempo song.


Our goal for the Workshop is to provide an encouraging and fun environment for beginner and intermediate musicians to learn to play bluegrass music.  Our class motto is, “Have the courage to be imperfect.”  What that means is we want to gently challenge our students to take musical risks and try out new things, without worrying about making mistakes.

WHO and WHY:

The Workshop is a program presented by the Desert Bluegrass Association; a non-profit, all-volunteer organization.  Since 1995, our mission has been to play and promote bluegrass music here in the Great Southwest.  We encourage you to check out our busy monthly calendar of events at this website  (select Calendars from menu).   Also, think about becoming a member, its just $20 a year.  You’ll get our great digital newsletter by email to keep you up to date on events in the bluegrass community and you will be a part of a great family.


Beginners will concentrate on learning the history and structure of bluegrass music, the roles of each instrument in the dynamics of songs, understanding keys, the Nashville number system, learning melodies and improvising for lead breaks.  Beginners will be playing at slower tempos to develop these skills.  They will also practice lead and harmony singing and leading a song in a slow jam.   The workshop is not intended to teach you how to play your instrument (see Menu item Links>Instructors for a list of excellent instructors).  The workshop is where you learn to be part of a group of musicians who can get together and play music on the fly. It is called “jamming” and “jamming” is what makes Bluegrass such a great genre!!!

It’s important for all players to listen to the music of the first generation bluegrass bands to understand the sound and the format of the songs we will be playing.

Intermediates will be those attendees who can play true melody breaks for several songs, understand chord progressions and recognize chord changes by ear. They should have at least a couple of songs that they can lead at a jam, be ready to play at full tempo (vocal or instrumental). They will learn fiddle tunes, explore more complex songs and be ready to play by ear, with no songbooks.

In both groups, we develop jam etiquette and how to lead a song in a jam setting. One of the items that sets bluegrass aside from other genres of music is the “break”.   A “break” is a solo of the melody during the song.  The workshop environment allows you to practice your break with other instruments and backup others without pressure or judgment. It is a very friendly and safe place to improve.

At times, we practice in small jam groups, and then play for the larger group at the end of the evening before we gather together for announcements and a final song or two.

We have created recordings of practice tracks for each progression at two different speeds for you to use for your practicing.  See “Progression Practice Rhythm Tracks”  below.


Monday nights from 6:30 to 8:30  September thru May except for some holidays.  Check site calendar for latest information.  DBA Calendar


WELCOME. Starting April 15, 2024, our class materials will be: Year 1 Session 6.   Each session will last approximately five weeks.

You may want to print or download a copy of the songs for that session to bring with you to the workshop.

Year 1 Session 1
Year 1 Session 2
Year 1 Session 3
Year 1 Session 4
Year 1 Session 5
Year 1 Session 6

Dueling Banjos
Mama Don’t Allow
Will the Circle be Unbroken
Banjo Pickin’ Girl verses by Karen Dismachek

Year 2 Session 1
Year 2 Session 2
Year 2 Session 3
Year 2 Session 4
Year 2 Session 5

Songs and Instrument Resources
Progression Practice Rhythm Tracks

Questions can be directed to:
Instructor:        Dave Polston    (520)245-6126
Monday night workshop:  Carole Wothe