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Here's some information about the banjo, guitar and mandolin and what Andy can do for you with each one. No matter which instrument you want to learn, you can be sure that Andy will let you learn at your own pace, as soon as possible he will "jam" with you during a lesson, and he will always tailor the lesson process to meet your interests.

Five-String Banjo

The primary defining instrument of Bluegrass, the 5-string banjo seems like an all American instrument but it has its roots in Africa. The style we all recognize as Bluegrass banjo, was "invented" by Earl Scruggs and even though many players have come along and added their influences, you can't really play bluegrass if you haven't studied Earl.


Andy teaches "Scruggs" Style, 3-finger picking using a combination of TAB (tablature), ear training (let's listen!), and a secret language only spoken by banjo players. The student is free to direct the course of study to their liking by including teaching materials from outside sources. There aren't too many great players who claim to be self-taught; as a teacher Andy is an objective third party and the guidance that he provides will help keep the self-directed student on track.


The steel-string guitar provides rhythm and some of the background "wall of sound" for Bluegrass. It can also be a challenging lead instrument for which audiences routinely stand up and cheer. However, a good rhythm guitar player is often more sought after than a flashy solo player. Furthermore, many bands are lead by their guitar player. This is a testament to the influence that the guitar has on the overall sound of the band. Andy will teach how to play solos but the primary focus for the beginner should be on developing good rhythm technique.


Andy considers himself to be an intermediate guitar player. Thus he only takes beginner students on guitar. He gets the beginner student started off in the right direction and once the student is ready, he will help them get situated with an appropriate advanced instructor. A good teacher helps the student learn how to learn.


The mandolin was the instrument played by Bill Monroe, the father of Bluegrass music. EVERYTHING you hear on mandolins in Bluegrass grew from his influence. As with banjo students and Earl, you had better plan on listening to some Bill Monroe if you want to play bluegrass mandolin. It isn't surprising that the other primary instrument for band leaders is the mandolin.


Mandolin may require a larger array of technical skills than either guitar or banjo and a large amount of those skills reside in the right hand (the one that holds the pick). A beginner should expect to spend a lot of time developing and working on his or her right hand. Andy aspires to be a good mandolin player, knows what it takes and wishes that he had enough time to become one. If you want to give the mandolin a try, Andy can get you started and help you progress. Ultimately, though,  you will need a more advanced teacher and Andy can help you find the right one when you're ready.

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