Shearer Summer Institute—July 26 to August 2, 2024

Guest Artists: Andrew York and Stephen Mattingly

Aaron Shearer’s two greatest passions were guitar and hiking which we celebrate yearly at our summer guitar program. Join us this summer in 2024 for our 8th annual Institute held at the beautiful Mountain Retreat and Learning Center in North Carolina.

The Mountain RLC is nestled in the Blue Ridge of the Southern Appalachian Mountains at 4200′ just 4 miles from the quaint town of Highlands, NC.  The center provides all lodging and meals (some dinners from chef, Matt Regan) and is surrounded by the magnificent Nantahala National Forest, the best area for swimming holes,  waterfalls, and whitewater rafting in the state!

The Institute is open to all ages and levels. Each day we split time between guitar and the inspiring outdoors.   Guitar activities include:

  • a diversity of workshops—performance development, technique, guitar harmony, composition, arranging, etc.
  • artist masterclasses
  • private lessons
  • small guitar ensembles
  • guitar orchestra
  •  campfires and informal “coffehouse” play-ins
  • Artist performance (York and Mattingly)
  • Community performance (Guitar Orchestra, small ensembles and soloists) at the Bascom on Aug.1

An excellent experience for any aspiring or established classical guitarist.  Professional teachers were all approachable in lessons, workshops, and informal gatherings. The schedule was balanced with fun excursions in addition to practicing, playing, and meeting other guitarists. What an incredible opportunity! We have already signed up for next year!

The Ryan family

from ASF Summer Institute 2023

“The Shearer Summer Institute is a wholesome and supportive experience for guitarists of all ages and levels.”

Skip, Robin, & Alexandria Cutting

from ASF Summer Institute 2022

2023 Summer Institute Guitar Orchetra

Add me to the Interest List


Double Occupancy

$1375—includes shared lodging (2 per room) for 7 nights, 3 meals a day, and all activities.  Reserve with $100 deposit.

Single Occupancy

$1875—includes 7 nights lodging in a private room, 3 meals a day, and all activities. Reserve with $100 deposit.

Non-Guitar Participant

$1000—Rate for spouses or parents which includes double occupancy, meals, concerts, and all activities without guitar.  Reserve with a $100 deposit.


$900—Includes all activites and 2 meals a day.  Lodging on your own.

Teacher Discount

If you’re a teacher and you bring a minimum of 4 students, you may qualify for a tuition discount. There are a limited number of teacher packages available–first come, first serve.  To inquire on availability of the teacher package, please contact.


Every year the foundation is committed to providing a reduced tuititon for talented guitar students in financial need.  Won’t you please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us in this mission?

Give now!

Important Information

Things to Bring
  • Guitar
  • Extra set of guitar strings
  • Collapsible Music stand
  • Battery powered Music Stand Light (such as Vekkia Folding Music Stand Light
  • Clip-on Electric tuner
  • Pencils with good erasers
  • 3-ring binder with your music organized in it
  • All toiletries (MRLC provides only sheets and towels)
  • Performance Attire—all black with black shoes (but dress comfortably for the weather, not formal)
  • Swim suit
  • Day pack
  • Water bottle
  • Hiking and other comfortable clothes (and rain gear)
  • Hiking shoes (trails are not too rough)
  • River shoes (opt.)
  • Hiking pole (opt.)
  • Sandals
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Personal first-aid kit
  • Personal Air Conditioner (optional—the buildings are not air conditioned.  However, weather is very comfortable.  Average day temps are in the low 80’s and evening temps in the low 60’s.)

Also… All meals are included at the Mountain Retreat and Learning Center; however, if you’re interested in dining out, the nearby town of Highlands offers a diversity of restaurants. List of Restaurants


Health and Safety

The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center remains vigilant about offering a safe and hospitable experience for their guests. The MRLC is taking the following measures:

  • Employee and Volunteer Health Precautions:
    • Daily updates from the State Health Department and CDC are shared with The Mountain community, with information incorporated into ongoing practices.
    • All full time Mountain staff have been fully vaccinated.
    • All Mountain staff and volunteers participate in a COVID test weekly, receiving results in two days.
    • The Mountain has COVID rapid test kits in the event of symptoms outlined in the CDC and State standard health protocols.
    • In the case of a positive test result, the staff member or volunteer would be expected to quarantine until a negative test result is confirmed, or at least ten days after first symptoms, per CDC guidelines.
    • Mountain staff and volunteers will wear protective masks in indoor spaces as recommended by the CDC and State guidelines.
    • Staff and volunteers will wash and/or sanitize hands upon arrival at their designated work place, continuing this practice throughout the day as indicated.
  • General Precautions: 
    • For the safety of all guests, The Mountain will be operating at limited capacity, based upon the meeting spaces that will be utilized and in accordance with the recommendations of the CDC and the NC Department of Public Health.
    • Guests will be housed in double or single occupancy, dependent on individual preferences and space availability.
    • Guests and staff are expected to maintain six-foot distance between yourself and others not in your immediate social group.
    • Face masks are to be worn in the Main Office and Store space, as well as in the Dining Hall until being seated for your meal.
    • In the Dining Hall, a compostable glove is worn to serve yourself.
    • Wash hands frequently and/or use hand sanitation measures supplied at stations throughout The Mountain.
  • Cleaning and Hygiene Measures: 
    • All vulnerable hard surfaces will be cleaned daily with antibacterial cleaners, with special attention to doorways and doorknobs, counters, handrails and other surfaces frequently having hand contact.
    • Please provide your own mask. The Mountain has a limited amount of single-use  masks available.  Masks will be required when entering the Mountain’s Main Office and Gift Shop space, as well as in the Dining Hall line to receive your meals. Once you have moved through the cafeteria line masks may be removed for dining. During “in session” time, the use of masks is not required by The Mountain and is up to the discretion of the event leaders.
    • The Mountain will provide dedicated hand sanitizing stations throughout campus. However, we do recommend bringing your own personal hand sanitizer with you.

Click here to view the waiver.  (If possible, we recommend you download and print a waiver to complete before arriving at The Mountain.)

  • Practices for Mountain Guests:
    • Anyone who has been in contact with someone ill within 14 days of arrival at The Mountain, who is feeling ill, or who has symptoms outlined by the North Carolina Department of Public Health should not attend an event at The Mountain until being cleared by a health professional or being symptom-free for a minimum of 14 days.
    • Mandated  vaccination with appropriate documentation may be required by event coordinators for outside events held at The Mountain.  All guests are encouraged to be vaccinated before attending any event at The Mountain.
    • Guests will be required to have their temperature taken at arrival. Guests who exhibit a body temperature over 100.4 degrees will be asked to leave The Mountain or to quarantine onsite overnight. In this instance appropriate refunds will be issued.
    • Guests will be asked to fill out a liability waiver upon arrival.
    • Medical masks or cloth face coverings are required indoors. A limited number of single-use masks are available on-site.
  • Final Note: We will be following recommendations of health professionals to make The Mountain experience a safe and healthy one. The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center, its employees and representatives assume no liability for personal conditions arising out of the actual or alleged transmission of a communicable disease. 


Cancellation Policy
  • If for whatever reason the event is cancelled by the Aaron Shearer Foundation, all payments will be refunded.
  • If participant cancels less than 30 days prior to the event, all payments are non-refundable.

Getting There

Mountain Retreat and Learning Center is central to major cities:

  • 3 1/2 hours from Charlotte, NC
  • 3 hours from Chattanooga, TN
  • 2 1/2 hours from Atlanta, GA
  • 2 hours from Asheville, NC

Learn More

Check payments by mail can be made to”

The Aaron Shearer Foundation
P.O.Box 62011, Pittsburgh, PA 15241


Andrew York
Andrew York

In any generation there are many musicians, but very few artists that communicate on a profound cultural level. Andrew York is one of these rare artistic voices. Think Picasso painting with sound as a canvas, or a Miles Davis behind the guitar. Andrew achieves a synthesis of ancient and modern forms that offers a deep cultural expression that will only be truly understood by future generations. To call Andrew’s music classical is to put it into far too small a box; this is the living future of classical music.

       -Robert Bluestone

Video Samples

Stephen Mattingly

Stephen enjoys a vibrant career as Associate Professor of Music at the University of Louisville, where he directs classical guitar studies. His students have won top prizes in international competitions and serve in teaching positions at high schools and colleges. He is a member of the Kentucky Arts Council Performing Arts Directory and has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Silesian Guitar Autumn in Poland, the Panamá Guitar Festival, the Tampere Festival in Finland, the Guitar Foundation of America Convention, and the Iserlohn Guitar Symposium in Germany, among others. more

Thomas Kikta

As a Classical Guitarist, Vocalist, Composer, Pedagogue, Producer, Audio Engineer and Author Thomas Kikta is a versatile artist who has been the director of the Classical Guitar and Recording Arts and Sciences at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. for thirty years.  He has performed around the country, including collaborations with the School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center, Ricardo Cobo, and Manuel Barrueco.  He is also videographer and editor of the 3-volume Shearer Method (Alfred Music), and Classic Guitar Technique I.

Alan Hirsh

Guitarist/educator/composer Alan Hirsh wrote the music for the three-volume Shearer Method (Alfred Music) and Learning the Classic Guitar by Aaron Shearer (Mel Bay) and is the author of Classroom Shearer: a Teacher’s Manual, The Shearer Method Book IV: Guitar Harmony, and The Shearer Method Book V: Learning the Fingerboard Supplement.  Alan is a frequent guest conductor at festivals around the country including the Long Island Guitar Festival and the ASU Guitarfest and has an extensive online catalogue of his guitar compositions and arrangements at

Chef—Matt Regan

Matt Regan is a former student of Thomas Kikta and graduate of the UNCSA in Winston-Salem, NC.  After teaching guitar in Charlotte, NC, he moved to New Orleans working as a line chef at Emeril’s and has been the executive chef at the Maison Dupuy’s Bistreaux since 2017.  Regan describes his cooking as modern Gulf Coast. “Our cuisine is locally inspired,” he said. “We seek out the freshest, seasonal ingredients to create our traditional Cajun, Creole, and other specialties.”