Teaching Style
 

I'm a 45 year veteran of the bluegrass banjo, having played with The Bee Creek Boys, The Front Porch Boys, Whitehouse Harmony, Eazy Pickinz, and DeAnn Spence and Fullhouse. I also play rhythm guitar, some lead and flatpick guitar, dobro, and a little  mandolin.

I was born in Illinois, not exactly a hotbed of bluegrass activity, so I moved South, to Texas, where I've lived for 40 years. I have 4 fantastic grown children.

I began playing the banjo about 25 hours after I saw my first episode of "The Andy Griffith Show" that featured "The Darlings", the stage name for The Dillards, as the quiet mountain boys who came into town with their father Denver Pyle for about 8 episodes. After seeing Douglas Dillard leaning up in a doorway playing Doug's Tune about 180 beats per minute all the time looking like he was about to fall asleep, I knew I had to have one of these things. I bought a 50 dollar banjo from a pawnshop that was made of the sort of plastic that they make bowling alley ashtrays from. Within a few years, I'd outgrown a few banjos (including a Vega that I'd used my college tuition to buy, much to the dismay of my parents) and taken out a 3 year loan on a Gibson Mastertone RB-800. I now own about five banjos, two guitars, two mandolins and a couple of fiddles. 

I play enough mandolin to get a beginner started, and enough flatpick guitar (rhythm and Norman Blake style) to do the same. I can teach you the basics of bluegrass rhythm guitar and dobro, as well.

My teaching style is very relaxed, and student driven. A typical session consists of the student showing me what they have learned over the last week, me asking them what they want to do next, followed by me providing the tablature and sound file for the next piece to work on. I specialize in beginners. In fact, nearly all my students are beginners.

I am a former web designer programmer, webmaster, having been caught by the IT bust of 2001 and 9/11, and finding myself looking around for a career. I didn't have to look far, just backwards a bit. Sometimes we have to go backwards in order to go forwards, I've found.

My influences are Earl Scruggs, the father of modern 3 finger style 5 string bluegrass banjo playing, Douglas Dillard, Ralph Stanley, Don Reno, and Alan Munde, with a focus on Dillard's unique combination of Don Reno and Scruggs elements.

Thanks for visiting the site, and for considering lessons from me.

Jim