Only 259 days away: The 50th Annual Alaska Folk Festival, April 7-13, 2025

Teaching Workshops


  • Assign Workshop Coordinator.
  • Get with the Guest Artist liaison regarding the Guest Artist workshops. SCHEDULE GUEST ARTIST WORKSHOPS FIRST.
  • Collect workshop info from performer applications as they arrive.
  • Contact offering workshop leaders to determine what they want to do, and any scheduling constraints. You can START this in the week BEFORE the scheduling meeting (for all the applications on hand at that point).
  • Collect remainder of info regarding workshop offers on at the scheduling meeting, five weeks before Festival. Or, someone will collect this info for you and pass it on.
  • Work on scheduling workshops during the few days after scheduling meeting.
  • Create the tentative workshop schedule to be sent out WITH the performer schedule, which will go into the mail, usually the Friday after the scheduling meeting.
  • Workshop Schedule to Program Designer – Talk to the program designer about their desires.
  • Last changes for Program not later than?? — Talk the program designer about the deadline for last changes.
  • Keep in touch with the person keeping track of needed schedule changes.
  • At the Festival A) Make door signs for workshops, B) Greet workshop leaders when they arrive, C) Talk to workshop leaders afterward to get feedback
  • Miscellaneous: Drumming workshops (and other loud instruments, like highland bagpipes or didgeridoo) CANNOT be at Centennial Hall due to sound interference caused to other workshops or the afternoon concerts, unless nothing else is going on then. Even outside, drums interfere with others. For these and other similarly loud workshops, a far separate venue will be necessary, or scheduling them when all other workshops and the concerts are finished.

Plus one more — Do not schedule loud workshops in Sheffield #1 during the afternoon concerts; ALSO, do not schedule loud acts for the afternoon concert if there is a workshop in Sheffield #1. (These basic “12 points + one” are based on part of an outline drawn up, some years ago, by Jeff Brown)


(What follows from here is based on Anne Fuller’s thoughts on the task of Workshop Coordinator — a detailed How-To)



  1. WEEKEND PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE — To avoid creating scheduling conflicts, you need a copy of the weekend performance schedule as soon as it is available

  2. THE GRID — This is the framework that structures the whole thing. Make a list of rooms, times, days, guest artist slots.

  3. ROOMS — The meeting rooms in Centennial Hall are convenient. On sunny days, some groups meet outside. PROXIMITY is important, so new locations should be close to the “Folk Festival Complex” — might be hotel meeting rooms, the Youth Center, covered parking areas. Since 92, the smallest meeting room (Miller) has not held any workshops, but has served as a WARM-UP ROOM for the concerts. Workshops that obviously need a large space and workshops that can use a small space should be scheduled accordingly. Centennial Hall: Egan Room — 1050 sq ft — Also the Children’s Room during Week Hickel Room — 1000 sq ft Hammond Room — 670 sq ft Sheffield Ballroom #1 — big (but not loud) stuff if necessary [The Miller Room and the room back stage will be reserved for performer warm-up] Other sites? Possibly: Capital School — dance workshops on Saturday State Museum — Children’s Concert Noon to 2 pm Silverbow — Songwriter Showcase will be here, 3-6 pm Sat. & Sun, 2004. Goldbelt, KTOO –ROOMS for LOUD ACTS/LOUD WORKSHOPS: Since Sheffield #1 is directly adjacent to the Family Concert 10-noon on Saturday) and the afternoon performances beginning at 12 Noon, LOUD WORKSHOPS MAY _NOT_ be scheduled there. Likewise, we need to be careful NOT to schedule loud ACTS for the afternoon concerts as these will interfere with any workshops we may run in Sheffield #1. Sheffield #1 is good for dance workshops, jitterbug for example. Smaller workshops can go there if necessary. — ROOMS for DANCE WORKSHOPS Contra dance and other dance workshops would normally be scheduled in the dance venue. Sheffield #3 may work for some of these, too. Talk to the Dance Organizer about their desires. Family/Children’s Concert We have been running this from 10 am to noon on Saturday on the Main Stage at Centennial Hall, with the main Saturday Afternoon concert starting immediately afterward, at noon. If we have more workshops than will fit into the spaces and time we have, we may try to find other spaces, or not simply schedule them.

  4. DAYS AND TIMES — Days: Saturday and Sunday during the day. Time: 90 minutes seems like a good length. 60 minutes may work for a few workshops but is short for most.10 am is early but works for GOSPEL and MEDITATION sessions on Sunday. If a GUEST ARTIST is willing, 10 am can be fine there, too. Some years, the first workshops have started at 11 pm; but, this limits the number of available time slots. There are some workshop leaders that DO NOT LIKE to get up for an “early” 10 am or even 11:30 am workshop. You can’t please everyone.

  5. PERFORMER APPLICATIONS — The Performer Application will ask people what workshops they would like to lead or participate in. Contact the people offering workshops. Think about trying to create a workshop if people (more than one person) have asked for it.

  6. CALL PEOPLE — It is IMPORTANT to CALL the people offering workshops. (Keep track of long distance calls from your phone bill. The AFF will reimburse you.) This is when you CHAT with the Workshop volunteers and BUILD COMMITMENT so that the workshops will succeed. Even though the person has put on the Performer Application that they would lead a workshop, they are not really sure it will happen. It is just an offer. They are flattered when you call and REALLY ask them to lead a workshop. Setting up the exact time helps put reality into their minds. Talk with the volunteer workshop leader to find out what they want to do. Sometimes you have two people who want to do the same thing, but maybe we don’t really want to have two separate workshops on Hurdy Gurdy, for example. Would the two potential leaders be willing to co-lead, would one of them be happy not leading, OR, perhaps one of the potential leaders can lead a different aspect of the same instrument: One beginner, one advanced, or some other difference.

  7. GUEST ARTISTS — Talk to the AFF’s Guest Artist liaison about Guest Artist workshops. Give those workshops SCHEDULING PRIORITY and schedule the rest around them. Talk with whoever is working with the Dance Caller (and/or the Guest Dance Band, should we have one) regarding scheduling dance workshops. Because of the need for bands at the dance workshops, there may be additional performance/workshop leader conflicts possible.

  8. WHAT WORKSHOP TOPICS? — We should have the basics, fiddle, guitar, etc. There can be several workshops on one instrument but varied by level, style of play, area of focus, etc. Find a leader if there seems the need to run a particular workshop but no one has volunteered on the Performer Application. There are “regulars” who have done workshops for years, often the same one. Each year they get enthusiastic attendees, so they keep doing it. As soon as you have names of people (from the applications arriving), you can start to telephone folks who have volunteered to lead verifying their travel plans and availability for day and time you suggest. Before the scheduling meeting you may have to be vague about the exact time slot, but can commit to either Saturday or Sunday. If, as you call people, you find that a particular performer will NOT actually be coming to the Festival, pass that info on to the master scheduler. AFF reimburses the workshop coordinator for these phone call charges, so keep track of who you call on behalf of the AFF. Submit a request for reimbursement when your phone bill comes and you add up the AFF calls.

  9. WORKSHOP TITLE — You only have a few words for a title. It takes some creativity to accurately describe a workshop to a prospective attendee in 1-6 words, the fewer the better. Keep it simple; but, don’t leave out important info. “Beginner,” “Advanced,” “flat-picking,” “finger-picking,” etc.

  10.  FITTING THINGS IN — Now it’s time to schedule what’s been offered, what folks have asked for, and take the concert schedule into account. IMPORTANT: Check for these situations: 1) Folks can’t lead a workshop and perform on Main Stage at same time. 2) Different sessions for the same instrument SHOULDN’T be scheduled at the same time, but are convenient in the same room, one following another. 3) At some point, or even at several points, you may feel that the “interconnectedness” of the various schedules (travel, performances, rooms, other workshops) make solving problems impossible. There IS a solution somewhere, talk to someone else not so confronted by the problem or talk to the master scheduler, as they may know something that will help fix things.

  11. FINISHING — Check for completeness of offerings. Type the info into a word processor file and get it to the program designer, or to the person laying out the tentative schedule, if a different person. We’ve usually used a tabular listing for the last several years (each time and room has it’s own block) called the GRID. YES, this is ALL done between the Festival scheduling meeting and the Tentative Schedule mailing (ABOUT 4 DAYS). It CAN be done, if you start phoning workshop leaders BEFORE the scheduling meeting. We will need the tentative workshop schedule by Thursday evening so that it can be assembled as part of the Tentative Schedule package. If you absolutely have to, Friday morning, early, may be OK, but we HAVE to get the schedule printed (in time for a Noon mailing party the Friday after the scheduling meeting). Talk to the person laying out the Tentative Schedule for you deadline.

  12. MAILING — The workshop schedule will go out with the Tentative Performer Schedule mailing. Many eyes will help catch errors and conflicts. That phone call you made when you first contacted a workshop leader isn’t the final word. Reality kicks in after the schedule is in the musician’s hands.

  13. REVISING — When notified of cancellations or change requests, adjust as possible. Keep in touch with the program designer and master scheduler so that your changes don’t conflict with other Performer Schedule changes. There are lots of reasons why people may want a change in your carefully crafted Tentative Schedule. Some workshop givers will very much want to attend one of the Guest Artist workshops, leading to a schedule conflict. Some workshop givers won’t have that need. These conflicts won’t become known until the performers get the Tentative Schedule. Keep in touch with the Master Scheduler for help in resolving schedule problems. We may end up CREATING scheduling conflicts when we don’t.

  14. AT THE FESTIVAL — It’s nice to greet workshop leaders during the week, confirming their room and time, encouraging them, making them feel welcome, assuring them that they have found the right place. Write comments for emcee’s to announce CHANGES in the workshop schedule, if necessary. POST SIGNS on each room listing workshops for the day (Yes, you can put this up very late the night before). Be there early to be sure doors are open for the first sessions. Stick your head in to see that each session gets going. Afterward, ask folks (workshop leaders) how it went gathering, information for next year’s even better festival.