Wernick Method Teachers

Show listing by state

Alan Epstein (Glens Falls NY)

[Email Alan]      [Watch Alan play]

Alan Epstein has played mandolin and sung in bluegrass bands in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York since the 1970s. A certified Wernick Method jam teacher since 2012, he has taught at camps around the country and hosts jam classes in New York state. Alan excels at helping students master both mandolin and bluegrass fundamentals, giving them the confidence to enjoy a broad range of musical experiences.

“One of the best group experiences I've ever had!”

“It was informative and fun, exactly what I hoped for!”

“It was great! Everyone got to play -- very democratic.”

“Alan has great skill in using individual student's capabilities as a tool to help everyone progress. He provides constant feedback on progress and techniques, and provides practice suggestions to improve playing abilities.”

“Alan was confident, relaxed, encouraging. Couldn't ask for better.”

“Really fun, and I learned a lot in a short time.”

“Alan has such a great manner in his presentation and explanation. He pushes to get the most out of everybody.”

“Learned what bluegrass jamming was about.”

“Delightful group musical experience.”

“I would take it again from him and still learn a lot.”

“Awesome teacher, thank you!”

“Thanks for a great time!”

“Awesome teacher, awesome class.”

“It was an awesome class and I'm so glad to have been able to participate. Thanks!”

“Alan, somehow after the presentation of the certificates, we failed to acknowledge you, and I feel bad for that. You deserved a standing ovation, this class was all I'd hoped for and a lot more. Thank you SO MUCH - you put yourself into this in a delightful way.”

Allie Lee (Bryson City NC)

[Email Allie]      [Watch Allie play]      [Watch Allie teach]

Allie Lee is a self-taught guitar player, bluegrass and old-time musician, and former 7th grade English teacher. As a member of the Indiana-based band The Whipstitch Sallies for several years, she sang lead and harmony, wrote songs, and played guitar, clawhammer banjo, and harmonica. Allie also plays in a duo with Frank Lee and in the popular old-time string band The Freight Hoppers, based in western North Carolina.

“Allie does a great job simplifying things for me to understand and she's a true inspiration.”

“She is encouraging and knowledgable. Within minutes, she will make you feel like a rock star, and before too long, she'll help you sound like one too.”

“You always made class fun and entertaining, and were always motivating. (former seventh grade student)”

“She's very flexible and can cater to different types of learners.”

“Allie was a terrific instructor. Very upbeat and positive.”

“Allie Burbrink is a first rate instructor and musician who is really good with people. I learned a great deal.”

“The whole group, including Allie, were all so engaged and eager to learn and share ideas.”

Andy Lentz (Oakland CA)

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Andy Lentz started on fiddle with the Suzuki technique, and has been jamming and performing bluegrass and other roots styles for over twenty years. Before recently relocating to Oakland CA, Andy performed in and around Austin TX with Silas Lowe, High Plains Jamboree, and various other groups. In addition to gigging on fiddle, Andy teaches private lessons, presents fiddle workshops, and plays guitar and mandolin.

“As instructor for my daughter, he was encouraging, patient and got results.”

“Andy's workshop was amazing... a group with all different levels but he made us all feel equal. His excitement carried over. He was extremely patient which helped me relax and enjoy the class more.”

“Andy inspired me to play more, practice harder, and become a better player.”

“Andy is extremely patient with new students, it was very easy to begin learning with him. He has a natural way of providing feedback, very friendly and encouraging.”

Angelika Torrie (BOTTMINGEN Switzerland)

[Email Angelika]

Angelika Torrie plays fiddle, guitar and bass, having started classical violin at age 10. Discovering how to play without written music, she began jamming and playing with bluegrass bands such as Down Yonder and the Bluegrass Hoppers. As a mother of two, she put aside most band activities, but continues to guest with bands and jams whenever possible.

“I learned a lot and if I didn’t understand something, Angelika knew how to explain it well.”

“I didn’t feel under pressure.”

“I became more motivated to learn.”

“Angelika was always friendly and in a good mood, no matter how everything went.”

“Angelika considered everybody in the class and was always aware who needed more attention.”

“I will have no inhibitions to participate in a bluegrass jam session.”

“Angelika challenged me and at the same time made me feel nothing can go wrong (even if it did ;-)”

“I felt respected and welcome from the very beginning.”

“The Wernick Method came for me at the right moment. Previously I had inhibitions, as "Not virtuoso" to go to jam sessions. not anymore!”

Austin Scelzo (Danbury CT)

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Austin Scelzo has played music since age 11 in a variety of styles, first in a folk/singer songwriter band and currently in bluegrass bands the Angry O’Haras and On the Trail, performing traditional and cutting-edge bluegrass including original music, on fiddle, mandolin, bass, and guitar. A full-time public school music teacher in Darien, Austin has a Bachelor of Science in Music Education and is certified in the American Music System and the Mark O'Connor Method. He is passionate about empowering others and inspiring lifelong participation and love of music.

“The work you do with the students is wonderful! You are so talented and our school is so lucky to have you!”

“A dedicated and enthusiastic teacher.”

“Your leadership and ability to enable the kids to produce the music was amazing.”

“You are terrific! Thank you for everything you do for these fortunate students!”

Barry Mitterhoff (Scotch Plains NJ)

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Barry Mitterhoff has played bluegrass mandolin professionally for over 40 years, appearing in 49 states and 18 countries. He has toured with Peter Rowan, Jorma Kaukonen, Tony Trischka, Hazel Dickens, and many bluegrass bands, and performed from the White House to Nashville's Ryman Auditorium and in Moscow and Brazil. Barry has taught privately since the 1970s and at many leading camps and workshops throughout the U.S., in Canada, and England.

“He's a great teacher, patient, encouraging and easy to learn from.”

“He takes a genuine interest in seeing you develop.”

“Barry particularly impressed me with his ability to put his students at ease in a group with such a wide range of skill levels.”

“Exceptional in his patience, true interest in students individually, supportive and encouraging. He is a virtuoso, dedicated to music. Anyone who even has a chance to be his student, should grab it!”

“His personal style is warm, welcoming, gracious to a fault and he's got a great sense of humor. I've never had a teacher that offers genuine encouragement as abundantly and sincerely as Barry does.”

Bill Farmer (Elk Rapid MI)

[Email Bill]

Bill Farmer has been playing and performing Bluegrass and traditional music for over 30 years, performing with several bands including the Michigan-based “Raisin Pickers”, the Colorado-based “WhoYaSay”, as well as cajun/zydeco bands Bill’s passion for Bluegrass jamming was ignited when he attended his first Bluegrass festival in 1992, and became a student of Pete Wernick and others, who led Bill deep into the wonderful kinship of Bluegrass jamming. As an experienced Bluegrasser, Bill’s objective now is to share the joy and knowledge he has gained and, through the Wernick Method, to welcome new members into our growing, jamming Bluegrass community.

Bob Altschuler (Delmar NY)

[Email Bob]

Bob Altschuler performs and records on banjo with Thirteen Feet of Bluegrass, Three Quarter North and Shine Hill Road. His picking has been heard on National Public Radio and on radio and TV commercials. An in-demand instructor since the 70s, he has headed the bluegrass beginner track at Banjo Camp North since 2003. Bob has been featured in publications such as Banjo Newsletter and Mel Bay Banjo Sessions.

“Bob combines extraordinary talent with compassionate regard for the beginning student- a rare quality.”

“Bob has a natural gift for teaching a person of any age.”

“I liked Bob's caring and encouraging attitude and excellent, systematic teaching.”

“The encouragement and motivation this class has provided has been nothing short of remarkable.”

“Great job of making jamming skills accessible.”

“This was a great class. Thanks for encouraging all of us and creating such a positive learning environment.”

“You are able to bring learning banjo down to a level we can really understand, and tailor it to our personal skill level- your classes are great!”

“Bob's sequence is wonderful. He opens doors. I learned so much about how to work on my playing and how to move forward.”

“I've taken lessons from others and have never once learned as much as I did the first time I sat down with Bob. His knowledge of the banjo and musical theory, combined with patience and devotion make him an ideal teacher.”

“I’ve learned so much from him and have gained so much more confidence after taking these classes. He does a great job with presentation, instruction, and working with all levels of students.”

Bob Amos (St Johnsbury VT)

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Bob Amos was the lead singer, guitarist and principal songwriter of the IBMA award-winning Front Range band from 1988-2003 . The Colorado-based band toured America and Europe, and their 5 Sugar Hill records received airplay on Bluegrass and Americana radio. Sing Out! magazine called Bob “one of the most consistently interesting and intelligent songwriters in American music.” Bob now lives in northeastern Vermont and is enthused to start teaching jam classes.

“Bob's talent allows him to play and teach in any style. More importantly, it was the most fun I ever had in a music lesson.”

Bob Culver (Charleston SC)

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Bob Culver teaches violin, guitar, mandolin and piano, as well as choir and ukulele at the Cooper School. He strives to get his students making music with friends and family as soon as possible. Bob has played bluegrass and other styles with many bands over the years, including The Harrows. Bob builds custom guitars and mandolins under the label Crooked Tune, and offers instruments and classes in guitar construction. Bob is a recovering lawyer who lives on James Island.

“Bob is a kind and patient teacher”

“Bob's lessons are always fun and productive”

“Being fairly new at jamming, I gained quite a bit of confidence by the last class, something I didn't have going in.”

“Super encouraging and friendly.”

“A terrific format to be able to learn, and put into practice, the basics of jamming. I would not have had the confidence or knowledge to jump into a group without having participated in this class.”

Bob Amos & Alan Epstein (Colebrook NH)

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Bob Amos & Alan Epstein

Bob Amos & Alan Epstein & Ellen Carlson (Colebrook NH)

[Email Bob Amos & Alan Epstein & Ellen]

Bob Amos & Alan Epstein & Ellen Carlson

Buck Thrailkill (Fayetteville NC)

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Buck Thrailkill was born in Meridian, MS and started playing banjo at age 12. Mentored by his big brother and Lee Jackson (Carl Jackson's Dad), he grew up playing all over the south, touring on the Magnolia State Bluegrass Circuit at age 15. He played and taught banjo and guitar till joining the Army in 1981. After his service Buck settled in North Carolina where he performs and records with several bands ranging from hardcore Bluegrass to Country, Blues, and Folk. Buck owns Fifth String Studio in Fayetteville, NC where he teaches and creates customized “Made in Carolina” leather instrument straps.

“Buck is far and away the best, most patient, thorough, kind, passionate, incredibly knowledgeable and inspiring music teacher I have ever had… always prompt, professional, and makes learning so much FUN!”

“I have never had a better instructor. He can impart ideas very clearly and concisely with attention to detail that puts him very much on the "leading edge" of his craft.”

“Mr. Buck equipped me not only to play, but also to teach myself how to learn. He instilled in me a love for the instrument and the music, just because that is who he is. I am beyond thankful.”

“An inspiring and effective teacher with a kind and easy-going demeanor. His love and passion for the instrument and for teaching is evident.”

Chris Roszell (Denver CO)

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Chris Roszell is a recent arrival in Denver from North Carolina. He has played bluegrass banjo professionally for over 15 years with many bands including Colorado's Blue Canyon Boys, Scott Slay and The Rail, and Big Fat Gap. He spends a lot of time thinking about teaching and about music. Since picking up the banjo he has taught a wide variety of students, hoping to instill in them the confidence and ability to play with others and to foster a love for bluegrass music. During that time, he also spent 7 years as a middle school math teacher.

“Chris made learning very easy and fun, he was very reliable and was an amazing teacher.”

“He is very professional and his enthusiasm is contagious! The progress is amazing: I started as a beginner. Now I can pick along full-speed to loads of bluegrass songs and regularly attend local jam sessions.”

“Chris is a lot of fun and was able to hone right in on my skill level. I feel he is approachable for any skill level. He challenges me to become better but in a friendly way.”

“Chris is a great guy, a fantastic teacher, and an awesome player. The lessons were fun and he was able to easily grasp my skill level and tailor the instruction to me.”

“Chris is a great guy, a fantastic teacher, and an awesome player. The lessons were fun and he was able to easily grasp my skill level and tailor the instruction to me.”

Dan Whitener (Matawan NJ)

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Dan Whitener is from Washington, DC, and is currently performing on banjo in the New York / New Jersey / Pennsylvania scene. He has hit the Billboard Bluegrass charts with both the Emmy-nominated bluegrass-hiphop band Gangstagrass and Philadelphia’s own Newgrass Americana band Man About A Horse. Dan has taught banjo, guitar, mandolin, piano, and voice since 2008 up and down the East Coast and enjoys teaching bluegrass fundamentals

“Dan Whitener was a spectacular teacher--approachable, friendly, and super encouraging and positive. It was a joy to learn from him.”

“I found Dan very encouraging, patient, and helpful. It was a wonderful experience.”

“Dan was thorough and had great, specific tips and suggestions for each of the jammers.”

“Amazing. Dan was a great teacher and very encouraging. I'd seek out another class run by Dan at anytime.”

Dave Benway (Underhill VT)

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Dave Benway started picking rhythm guitar and singing on tailgates, fields, and around campfires some 15 years ago. Bluegrass festivals throughout New England became a passionate summertime experience, with jamming always a highlight. In 2010 Dave formed the VT-based band "Chasing 440" from fellow parking-lot pickers who stepped out of the field and onto the stage, performing locally. The transition to Wernick Method jam teaching is a natural evolution of his musical direction. Dave makes no pretense about his instrumental skills: he will tell you that he makes the most of the gifts he has.

“Dave always encourages folks of all ability levels to join in the jam with a big smile on his face. He wants everyone to enjoy themselves.”

“Dave was so encouraging! He convinced me to let go of my inhibitions and go for it!”

“I had a deer-in-the-headlight experience, Dave sang the notes in my ear as I played what he sang. Quick and effective!”

“Dave is a great fun leader of jams. Besides singing great he really makes sure everyone is on board understanding where we are in the jam”

Dave Howard (Louisville KY)

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Dave Howard has enjoyed years of singing and playing mandolin throughout the U.S. with The 23 String Band - winners of the Louisville Music Awards Bluegrass Artist of the Year - and with the Louisville-based Relic Bluegrass band. He has played and sung on numerous television, radio, and feature film programs. He recently apprenticed as a fiddler, supported by the Kentucky Arts Council. Dave directs the Louisville Folk School, a traditional music education community he founded in 2015, and sits on the board of Bluegrass Anonymous - Louisville's Bluegrass Music Association.

“Dave does a great job of teaching to the appropriate level. Thanks to Dave I now have the confidence to participate in jams.”

“He is very approachable and easy to get along with. The Louisville Folk School is a great asset to our city!”

“A positive, encouraging environment that felt safe. I felt free to experiment and make mistakes.”

“The slower tempos allowed for layers of complexity to be added to my experience: sing while playing, paying WAY more attention to other pickers.”

“There are good teachers, and good players. Dave is rare in that he does both well. He understands the struggles new pickers face. Dave's friendly and genuine demeanor is welcoming and makes people feel at ease and ready to dive in.”

“It was my introduction to really learning how to play in a group. I enjoyed it tremendously. Great teachers and even got to sing several songs.”

Dave Kiphuth (Eliot ME)

[Email Dave]

Dave Kiphuth became well-known for his banjo work with the respected Connecticut band Apple Country, performing throughout the Northeast and South in the 1970s and 80s. He went on to work with Lonesome Dave and the North Dixie Road Kings, Chestnut Grove, Walt Michael & Company, and the Red Hen String Band. Dave has taught banjo and guitar extensively since the 1960s and ran a popular bluegrass jam in Ballston Spa, NY before moving to Maine.

“David has been a patient and thorough instructor. I feel very fortunate to have found him as a teacher.”

“He is patient and very sharing with his amazing musical knowledge. He makes everyone of all abilities feel welcome and encourages them to participate at whatever level they play. It is rare to find someone who is both a fine teacher and a fine musician all in one person.”

“My experience with Dave has been tremendous. I could not recommend more intelligent, talented, caring, and enjoyable teacher who serves his students.”

“He's really helped me improve my playing. We also have a lot of fun! I'd recommend Dave to anyone.”

“Dave is a fantastic teacher and amazing musician. He made the class warm, comfortable and not intimidating. I learned more than I expected and even dared to lead a few songs.”

“Everyone left with a better understanding of the dynamics of playing music with others in a jam.”

“He was very professional, talented, welcoming, and provided a wonderful and warm jam setting.”

David Bragman (Chicago IL)

[Email David]

David Bragman

“David Bragman creates a comfortable learning environment and offers solutions that move you forward musically. Because of David I now consider myself a musician.”

Don Julin (Traverse City MI)

[Email Don]

Don Julin

Duck Adkins (Marietta GA)

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Duck Adkins has performed throughout the United States and around the world, including Lincoln Center in New York, the San Francisco Wharf, and the International House of Music in Moscow. Jim has taught banjo and led jams since 1975. He is also a world-class duck impressionist--thus his nickname ‘Duck’. Jim makes his home in Marietta, GA and performs with two bands, Cedar Hill and Atlanta BlueGrace.

“Jim is great at facilitating jams and bringing people together!”

“Generous, patient, kind and fun to be around.”

“He is good at bringing out the best in people in a very diplomatic way.”

“Jim has strong leadership skills and is very knowledgeable about bluegrass and jamming.”

“Jim is good with those of us that are new and coming along. I think he is great!”

“You would not believe what you did for me: for you and Pete Wernick. I just finished my first weekend in a play called Smoke On The Mountain. I don’t act but play backup on guitar, mandolin and banjo, I even have a banjo solo.”

Ed Harvey (Fort Collins CO)

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Ed Harvey has been playing, writing, performing and recording music since the 1990s, mostly on acoustic guitar and upright bass. He also plays banjo, mandolin, mountain dulcimer, and is currently taking fiddle lessons. Ed is a geologist, water scientist, and former university professor, and now also plays upright bass with the Nebraska Boys bluegrass band. He's released a CD, Stories Seldom Told, featuring his original folk and bluegrass music. Ed jams regularly, attends several bluegrass camps each year, and hosts a weekly bluegrass jam in Fort Collins for beginner and intermediate players.

“Everyone loves jamming with Ed! He promotes a welcoming and friendly atmosphere where players can relax and have fun making music together. Ed is a helpful mentor who loves to share his enthusiasm for music with others.”

“I have found Ed to be a friendly, supportive, and talented jam partner.”

“When I was struggling to understand key and chord transposing, Ed took the time to explain to me how it worked in a friendly and understandable way, without making me feel like a musical idiot.”

Ellen Carlson (Nottingham NH)

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Ellen Carlson has been performing on fiddle for over 35 years, currently with the acoustic roots band High Range, as well as swing, old country and Irish with Jim Prendergast. She teaches fiddle, guitar and mandolin, both privately and at major festivals including Grey Fox, Joe Val and Pemi Valley. Ellen leads the NH Fiddle Ensemble and runs her own camp, the Fiddleheads Acoustic Music Camp.

“An amazing teacher!”

“Her supportive and easy-going personality puts the nervous beginner at ease and helps build self-confidence.”

“Learning from Ellen has been such a fun, positive learning experience for me!”

“Ellen is quite skilled at knowing when to step in, what to expect, how to teach each individual.”

“Fine teaching skills and many years of music play and knowledge... a nice combination.”

“The class was organized, expectations were discussed and made clear. We knew what was planned for each class, what we needed to do.”

“Ellen and this workshop have given me the confidence to sing in front of others. Ellen was always encouraging us as well as gently pushing us. This was a fun and rewarding experience for me.”

“I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone, knowing that it was a safe place to do it.”

“This is one of the best things i've done for myself. I have so much more confidence. I feel much more relaxed when I play and sing.”

“She did a great job working with the various skills levels.”

“Ellen was great fun but at the same time knew when to be stickler for the concepts.”

“Ellen is amazing! She is an incredible player and teacher! She is so encouraging, she explains things in a way that I am able to understand,”

“All the little details Ellen taught me mean so much when playing with others.”

“Thank you, Ellen, for leading the way!”

“She did a great job... very gentle and motivating with her feedback. It was a lot of fun.”

“Ellen was great fun but at the same time knew when to be stickler for the concepts.”

“Ellen has such an encouraging safe way of challenging me to stretch. I love that. She is also extremely knowledgeable about music. She is wonderful to learn from!”

“Very special instructor. Patient and yet encouraging to get the student to move to the next stage. It is obvious that she enjoys and is good at what she does, and relentlessly tries to move (some very reluctant) students onward.”

“Ellen is quite skilled at knowing when to step in, what to expect, how to teach each individual.”

“It really is truly amazing how quickly I learned these techniques of how to jam in a Bluegrass session. All of a sudden I really understood patterns. Already, last week I was able to play with a new circle of musicians and follow the chords, and keep up on both my fiddle and mandolin. And I stepped forward and introduced a song to the group & it went very well.”

“Had a great time. Only wish I had begun doing this when I was a child.”

“It really is truly amazing how quickly I learned these techniques of how to jam in a Bluegrass session. All of a sudden I really understood patterns. Already, last week I was able to play with a new circle of musicians and follow the chords, and keep up on both my fiddle and mandolin. And I stepped forward and introduced a song to the group & it went very well.”

Erik Yates (Lyons CO)

[Email Erik]

Erik Yates has been singing and playing the banjo for the past twenty years as a means of self-expression, a way of connecting with tradition, and surprisingly, as a way of making a living. He tours nationally with California-based Hot Buttered Rum (a group he started in college), plays around Colorado with both his own quartet and the Lyons Bluegrass Collective, and has appeared with touring acts such as Rapidgrass, Railroad Earth and Peter Rowan. He also maintains an active schedule teaching banjo, rhythm guitar, dobro and vocals.

“Erik brings a mountain of knowledge, passion, and patience to his lessons, I highly recommend him.”

“Erik succeeded in giving me new tools to use.”

“I learn something new every time. He makes learning fun.”

Gilbert Nelson (Boiling Springs SC)

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Gilbert Nelson has been a regular on the jam scene for 30 years, with a passion for jamming, performing and teaching a variety of instruments. Gilbert's teaching is action packed and always encouraging, emphasizing fun and success, providing a safe and supportive learning environment while still finding ways to stretch comfort zones and bring students to a higher level of musical maturity. Gilbert leads his own band "The Jam Town Grass" as well as coaching other groups in musicianship and stagecraft.

“I highly recommend the class and would do it again in a heart beat.”

“Thanks for the help and confidence I received, letting me feel I could do this.”

“He made everyone feel welcome and important to the success of the group.”

“Why didn't someone explain these things to me before?”

“Gilbert and Leigh, you have empowered me this weekend . . . I'll have you to thank the rest of my life.”

“I can count on one hand the master teachers I've known and Gilbert is one of them.”

“You've given a 58 year-old guy with no "ear" who started with music less than 2 years ago, the belief that I can reach my dream of being able to play music with other people!”

“Gilbert has a fabulous touch and a way to bring a true beginner up to and over their comfort zone.”

“Jamming with Gilbert is one of life's real pleasures. I've never met anyone so positive and interested in others' success. He makes learning fun.”

Gilles Rézard (Igé France)

[Email Gilles]      [Visit Gilles's website]      [Watch Gilles play]

Gilles Rézard discovered bluegrass music at 16. He started learning guitar, then fell in love with the banjo. His two solo albums and recent cover feature in Banjo Newsletter magazine have brought him international acclaim. Based in Ige, Burgundy, music is his full-time activity, performing with Acoustic Boulevard and Broceliande Bluegrass Band as well as teaching. Gilles has taught hundreds of students (on banjo, guitar and mandolin) in 40 music camps in 15 years. To improve connections between French bluegrass musicians, he has created a map locating all who register by emailing him.

“Gilles is a very good teacher, within reach and tuned to the students. He is very friendly and welcoming.”

“Thanks to Gilles I discovered the happiness of jamming.”

“Great teaching and attentive to each detail.”

“Relaxation, method, friendship, cordiality, theory, practice, serenity ... it looks like happiness ... Thanks to Gilles for all this!”

“The atmosphere was wonderful. The slow jam work benefits everyone (from beginner to advanced). Gilles demonstrates a great pedagogy [teaching method]. He is attentive to everyone.”

“Avec Gilles, la mise en confiance est immédiate et j'ai beaucoup apprécié les commentaires et encouragements faits à chacun. Chacun a sa place et est intégré, reçoit des conseils personnalisée, quel que soit son niveau. Je ne peux que remercier Gilles pour son écoute, sa compréhension et ses conseils qui m'ont beaucoup fait progresser et motivé à continuer à me faire plaisir en musique.”

“With Gilles, confidence building is immediate and I appreciated the comments and encouragement made to each. Each has its place and is integrated, receives personalized advice regardless of its level. I can only thank Gilles for listening, understanding and guidance that have made much progress and motivated me to continue to enjoy myself in music.”

Graham Sones (Waverly MN)

[Email Graham]

Graham Sones is a more than forty-year veteran of the banjo, a Scruggs-style picker who enjoys his craft and helping students learn to play. Born in Rochester, MN with strong family ties in Des Moines and the Arkansas hills, he grew up with bluegrass music and festivals. His picking, singing, and recording experience includes three years with Monroe Crossing all over the Midwest at festivals, concerts, and fairs, as well as with bands such as DriveTime and No Grass Limit, and currently Dick Kimmel & Co.

“I give Graham high marks for patience. I'm happy to recommend him to anyone interested in learning from a real expert.”

“Graham has great teaching skills. He keeps it fun.”

“I've learned from many teachers, and Graham is among the best. He is patient, forgiving, and inspiring which makes it easy to learn and fun.”

“Graham was very solicitous of our needs and very willing to accommodate everyone.”

“This is a very necessary element to link me from solo instruction and the woodshed to playing in a jam. Jams are scary and this course helps a lot.”

Greg McGrath (Mooloolah Valley QLD)

[Email Greg]

Greg McGrath has been a bluegrass musician and teacher for some 20 years, teaching banjo and guitar during that time. Since attending Pete Wernick's 2007 jam camp in North Carolina, he has hosted numerous jam classes and camps in Australia for beginner musicians. Greg excels at giving students the skills and confidence needed to be a part of—and to feel welcome at—any jam session.

“So patient and encouraging!”

“Displays confidence but with kindness, humility and a natural sense of humour.”

“Committed to bringing out the best in everyone!”

“I have a rekindled enthusiasm and feel confident about my picking future!”

“An amazing, worthwhile experience.”

“Well done, Greg! Great value for the money.”

Harry Gambrill (Ridley Park PA)

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Harry Gambrill was bit by the bluegrass bug early and began playing the banjo at age twelve. He plays banjo with regional bluegrass band The Jersey Corn Pickers. Harry also plays the bass, dobro, and guitar, and has been giving lessons for over 20 years.

“Harry is an excellent teacher. He exudes a true love for bluegrass music.”

“Great class...very challenging, but fun!”

“Harry was a helpful and encouraging teacher, even though I am a rank beginner.”

“A wonderful experience. I would highly recommend Harry's class to anyone trying to learn the basics of bluegrass jamming.”

“I wish I had known of this course years ago. It was that good and that beneficial!”

“I had never jammed before, but now I am actively seeking out opportunities. Before I wouldn't have tried. I learned that I wanted to be a committed banjo player. I just after received a new, top of the line banjo which I never would have bought unless I was committed.”

“A great musical experience!”

Heidi Olsen (Manasquan NJ)

[Email Heidi]

Heidi Olsen has long been involved in the bluegrass scene in the Central New Jersey area, playing banjo with her band Heidi Olsen and The Night, and hosting the Bluegrass Jam radio program for 12 years. Heidi's mission in life is to pass on her love of bluegrass by encouraging others to sing and play together. To that end she started a workshop ten years ago which has introduced many students to the joys of jamming. Students praise Heidi's patient teaching style and her ability to get everyone jamming in a non-threatening environment.

“I never enjoyed playing or practicing until Heidi made it click for me!”

“If it wasn't for Heidi, I don't think I would even be playing bluegrass music.”

“Learning with Heidi has allowed me to develop the confidence to play out with others -- a dream I had all but forgotten.”

“Heidi is very enthusiastic, supportive, and encouraging. She makes you smile!”

“Inspiring, positive and engaging attitude ... the group wants to do well for themselves but also for you.”

“it was all a great experience for me. Heidi had just the right combination of toughness and sweetness to foster a perfect learning environment.”

“I especially appreciated her tips on jamming etiquette and feel I am comfortable enough to participate in a jam session.”

Ira Gitlin (Alexandria VA)

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Ira Gitlin is widely known and respected in Washington-Baltimore music circles as a versatile multi-instrumentalist, teacher, and writer. A winner of the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship at Winfield, he has also performed with such nationally known performers as the Johnson Mountain Boys, Laurie Lewis, and Peter Rowan. Ira has taught at many camps and workshops, helping students master the basic skills that will make them a welcome presence at any jam session.

“A wonderfully engaging and informative instructor.”

“The best music teacher in the DC area, maybe even the entire world!”

“Not only knowledgeable but can teach and truly cares about the music.”

“The group jams were a great opportunity for everyone to get lots of practice with whatever they needed. Leading songs, taking breaks, singing harmonies, just building confidence with it all.”

“Ira's extraordinary knowledge/mastery of 3-4 instruments means that he can accommodate ALL learners.”

“The no pressure teaching style was an unexpected surprise.”

“Lots of well articulated insights about jamming strategies and rules of the road .”

“Ira Gitlin is terrific!”

Jeanette Curry (Rogers AR)

[Email Jeanette]

Jeanette Curry began teaching 5-string banjo and guitar in the 1980s and now also teaches beginning mandolin. She has performed at bluegrass festivals and state fairs in the Midwest, and at Silver Dollar City in Branson, has played with bluegrass bands including Flint Hill Flash, Subject to Change, and currently plays with Stained Glass Bluegrass and The Good Shepherd Pickers as part of an outreach ministry. Jeanette studied music at the Hutchinson Community Junior College in Kansas and currently teaches at the Arkansas Music Conservatory in Bentonville and at the Shepherd Music School in Rogers, AR.

“Jeanette is a gifted instructor who is willing to spend the time to teach the fundamentals. I could not have found a more knowledgeable instructor.”

“For a first-time bluegrass player the class was comfortable, positive, and a blast.”

“Jeanette has helped lift the "fog" that surrounds a beginning senior banjo player. I can recommend her as a skilled and positive teacher.”

“Jeanette's positive approach took me from a total beginner to intermediate level playing. Her upbeat personality and general enthusiasm for teaching created an environment I always looked forward to. Some 30 years later I'm a veteran of of several bands and countless jams.”

“Really enjoyed the class. The ability to just sit in with a group and feel comfortable playing is great.”

“Jeanette has more than satisfied a lifelong desire to play guitar. I will never be a pro but I can play well enough to enjoy it.”

Jeff Burke (Chicago IL)

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Jeff Burke has been performing on mandolin, guitar, and banjo since 1999--a sought-after sideman who’s toured the U.S. and Europe with a variety of acoustic and bluegrass acts. A certified Wernick Method teacher, he has hosted bluegrass jamming classes in several states, including at the John Hartford Festival in Bean Blossom, IN and the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN. His down-to-earth teaching style and positive approach to learning music have endeared him to students far and wide. Jeff splits his time between Nashville and Chicago where he currently offers jamming classes as well as private instruction.

“Jeff is a great, patient teacher.”

“Jeff is very passionate about music and it shows in the class. He offers positive and constructive feedback. I made huge strides in this class.”

“Wish I had taken this class years ago! It has motivated me to go to more jams and participate.”

“Great class, I have been recommending it to all my friends that play.”

“Jeff is able to convey difficult material into manageable lessons and encourages you to build on what you've learned, even if uncomfortable at first. I highly recommend him!”

“Jeff was very accommodating of people at different skill levels, patient with a group of varied talents.”

“Jeff did a very good job getting me out of my comfort zone with leading songs and attempting breaks.”

“Jeff was always enthusiastic about teaching the class, punctual and easy to follow with his instruction style. I would recommend the class for sure. Very impressed with his ability musically and to remember all our names after the 1st session...”

“Loved the level of folks who were in it. Even though I am still in beginner level,Jeff managed to blend us all in & push us just enough. I learned more in this jam class than I have in the 4 years or so I've had my banjo.”

“The best at helping all of us at all levels push ourselves, have fun, learn volumes of context in easy to understand manner. Jeff really is outstanding as a teacher & jam leader. Very positive, encouraging, approachable.”

“I went from a beginner who did not use a pick and knew only 8 chords to being able to jam, sing, and take solos in 8 weeks. Remarkable encouragement from Jeff moved me much quicker than I thought possible.”

“Jeff worked very hard to prepare for this class and his love of music was infectious.”

“We all had very different skill levels coming in and Jeff had something we could each learn every lesson.”

“Jeff's positive energy and solid knowledgeability were a real inspiration. The class was fun and Jeff was a fabulous leader!”

“Jeff Burke worked very hard to prepare for this class and his love of music was infectious.”

“Jeff Burke is an amazing teacher. Positive, patient, encouraging. Never makes you feel your question is silly. Explains things clearly. Pushes us but if he didn't we'd still be sitting at home, playing our instruments alone! He moves at a fast pace but always is ready to explain & the audio of class& info he emails is always on time & very helpful. Fantastic teacher.”

“I like the emphasize on action - teach and immediately in the next hour put it to work. Enough instruction to understand the theory but not seeking college level credit. Great format to have fun and learn quickly at the same time.”

Jeff Elsloo (Kansas City MO)

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Jeff Elsloo has played and taught music most of his life, specializing in banjo, guitar, and steel guitar. Winning or placing in instrument contests from a young age, he progressed in many styles with bands including 3 Trails West, Hula Girl, and Salty Dog. He has run workshops on banjo and the history of bluegrass, and run jams at bluegrass music clubs in the Kansas City area.

“Jeff is a consummate musician. He will get out of that closet, and give you confidemce, and get you jamming with others.”

“Jeff has a pleasant demeanor, emphasizing having fun and not taking yourself too serious. He has a great approach on how to practice, and attention to detail”

“Jeff is absolutely the best guy you could have in this situation.”

“He has been an extraordinary teacher, very patient and understanding. He has forced me out of my comfort zone into ear training and learning songs by ear. I would highly recommend him to anyone wanting to learn to play or improve their playing.”

“He always had time to answer my questions.”

Jeremy Chapman (Springfield MO)

[Email Jeremy]      [Visit Jeremy's website]      [Watch Jeremy play]

Jeremy Chapman started playing mandolin at age 10 with his brothers and father in The Chapmans. Winners of IBMA’s Emerging Artist of the Year, the band has performed throughout the U.S., in Europe, and on the Grand Ole Opry. When not on the road, Jeremy enjoys teaching private lessons in Springfield, MO and interviewing bluegrass celebrities on Internet TV.

“Jeremy is not only a great player, he is also a great teacher. He knows how to work individually with each student to help them achieve their potential.”

“Learning from Jeremy has been a pleasure. His patience and encouragement have kept me motivated to stick with the mandolin, which has not come naturally to me.”

“Jeremy is an excellent instructor who has taken me from no musical experience (or talent) to being comfortable playing in large groups or jamming at festivals.”

“His love for music makes learning easy to understand, yet challenging and fun.”

Jim Penson (Arlington TX)

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Jim Penson has played in many Texas bluegrass bands including the Front Porch Boys, and currently plays with DeAnn Spence and Full House. A luthier who repairs and restores banjos, guitars, and mandolins, Jim also teaches banjo, mandolin, and guitar, helping students trust their ears rather than read from tablature. His classes quickly get people jaming with ease, even those with limited instrumental skills.

“With Jim's teaching and support I feel confident to try taking a break even on songs I am not familiar with. He is a patient, thorough instructor and his mentoring approach has been helpful.”

“Jim works well with every skill level and personality type. He definitely knows how to lead a class!”

“Jim is skilled on all bluegrass instruments.”

“I'm free from tablature and can actually solo. I must give a ton of credit to Jim Penson and his Wernick style jamming. Jim is extremely patient, focuses on everyone having a good time, goes slow, and sticks to the basics”

Jim Talbert (Cabot AR)

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Jim Talbert has been playing bluegrass music for over 30 years, performing regularly as a multi-instrumentalist with several bluegrass bands including Borderline Bluegrass and Hickory Hill Gospel Bluegrass. Jim has a BA in Music Education and created the Join the Jam program at his hometown public library, helping beginner and intermediate students gain the knowledge and confidence to play with other musicians in a jam. As a certified Wernick Method Instructor, Jim will be working the time-tested Wernick system, teaching jam skills and guiding jammers playing bluegrass in small groups.

“Jim works very well with beginning players.”

“He's always fun and informative. I've learned a lot!”

“Jim succeeded at getting me over my fear of playing in a group.”

Jimmy Heffernan (Haddon Heights NJ)

[Email Jimmy]

Jimmy Heffernan is a multi-instrumentalist, specializing in resonator "dobro" guitar. In bluegrass and country music for over 40 years, he has performed and recorded with top names such as Larry Sparks, Red Allen, Brad Paisley, Charlie Louvin, and many more at venues including the Tonight show and the Grand Ole Opry. These days with the tour bus parked Jimmy focuses on teaching, sharing his music experience with pickers of all levels through workshops and videos.

“I am making great progress and having a lot of fun.”

“You're a truly great teacher.”

“I can tell by the quality of presentation and the level of detail, you have put your soul into helping us.”

“I was able to hook up with some folks and just started playing out over the weekend. Can't remember when I have had this much fun playing music!”

“Jimmy is a great teacher, and an excellent dobro, banjo and guitar player. You will learn so much in this class!”

Jodi Harbin (Powell TN)

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Jodi Harbin is a career musician who teaches mandolin, guitar, banjo and bass. She was the founder of the Colorado bluegrass band, Lonesome Traveler, and has continued her involvement in the bluegrass community after moving to the Knoxville area. She now performs with several groups including The Savage Hearts, and with her husband Tim Harbin. Working with Steve Kaufman at his camp every summer has exposed her to a wide range of teachers and teaching materials on all the bluegrass instruments.

“Jodi is so much fun to work with. She is a great teacher and always inspires me to learn more.”

“She has the patience of an angel and the skills of a master craftsperson!”

“She has a wealth of talent, vast music knowledge but more importantly a passion for teaching, as well as compassion, flexibility and humor.”

“Her knowledge, patience, and ability as a teacher are second only to her amazing talent as a musician.”

Joe Quesenberry (Grand Junction CO)

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Joe Quesenberry started violin and piano at age 6 and discovered guitar as a teenager. He has performed on guitar, fiddle, and mandolin with several bands over the last 40 years covering bluegrass, gospel, blues, country and rock & roll. He hosts a weekly acoustic jam that welcomes beginners to experienced performers, and teaches mandolin and math (!) at Western Colorado Community College.

“I really like this teacher – he is one of the best I have ever had!”

“Great teacher – would love to have again.”

“Joe is an amazing teacher – he works very hard to make sure that we all understand everything.”

“Que rocks!”

Joel Denman (Parker CO)

[Email Joel]

Joel Denman has been a music teacher in the in the Denver area public schools since 1990. He fell in love with bluegrass as a teenager and now specializes in fiddle, guitar and baritone vocals as a longtime member of Kantankerous and Lannie Garrett's Patsy DeCline show. With a degree from Berklee College of Music, he also plays professionally in bluegrass, blues, rock, jazz, and country bands. As a jam coach, Joel mixes his easy-going personality with a drive to inspire life-long musicians. Joel is currently on the board of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society.

“Joel is a dedicated and energetic teacher. He gave me the tools I needed to jam and express myself musically.”

“His depth of knowledge and passion for bluegrass is contagious. Because of Joel, I have the motivation and courage to pick with others and to pursue my dream.”

“Whether it's guitar, fiddle, mandolin or banjo, he's the best!”

“Joel opened my eyes. He showed me how to improvise and play by ear.”

Joff Lowson (Bristol UK)

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Joff Lowson played with top UK bluegrass act The Jalapeño Pickers, has performed on national radio in the UK and Holland and toured Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Holland, and France. He currently teaches banjo, guitar, mandolin and songwriting and performs with top UK old-time band The Buffalo Gals.

“Joff is good company, encouraging and a very patient and intuitive teacher. He sets targets for learning at a very achievable pace whilst being both challenging and rewarding.”

“A highly talented and knowledgeable musician. He can impart information very clearly and effectively. Lessons are enjoyable, and conducted in a relaxed, friendly, non-intimidating style.”

“Joff has a refreshing approach to teaching. Lessons are fun, inspiring and Joff is really patient.”

“Joff is very good at teaching theory through actual melodies, combining the foundations with exciting new songs. He has an extensive knowledge of picking styles, and clearly and patiently explains these during lessons.”

John David (Glendale CA)

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John David is a master on banjo, mandolin, dobro, guitar, and harmonica. He also plays fiddle and bass. He toured with music luminaries the Limeliters, performed with Leon Redbone, and has recorded for many television shows, commercials, and movie soundtracks. John created two instructional videos, on banjo and mandolin, for the Warner Brothers "Ultimate Beginner" series. While the Denver Post describes him as a "guitarist's guitarist", John is also eager to help everyday people with the challenges of learning to jam.

“The atmosphere at the jam workshop made everyone, beginners and experienced alike, feel welcome and comfortable.”

“I was surprised at how much I learned and how quickly.”

“He's able to teach and play every instrument, never become annoyed and keep the excitement and energy going all weekend—superb! Organization, clarity, pacing (fast clip, but seemed to work for the group) kindness, this was the best it could have been”

“John's explanations are excellent and easy to follow.”

“Had lessons from several teachers in the area—John has been easily the best”

“He showed me simple ways to get around roadblocks that had frustrated me for a long time”

“John made me (and everyone) feel at ease, created a fun atmosphere.”

“Each class just gets better and better. Keep doing what you're doing!”

“Always a great time. Always look forward to the challenge.”

“Thanks for all the help, especially the suggestions on vocal improvement.”

“John gets better and better every time I take his class. He's aware of how everybody in the class is doing and he's very self-reflective about small things to add/change to improve the experience. I'm hooked.”

John Holenko (Charleston SC)

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John Holenko co-owns and runs Charleston, SC's popular folk music school Hungry Monk Music -- a place to gather with friends and be encouraged to explore a lifelong love of music. He has published several instruction books with Mel Bay and teaches Bluegrass, Irish music, singing, songwriting, guitar, mandolin and folk dance forms at camps in Charleston, Boston and Maine. John plays in numerous bands and performs and records with The Hungry Monks.

“John is an approachable and supportive teacher for all levels of students, particularly beginners. He has an easy going nature which helps break down barriers. His love for the music and desire to teach comes through in everything he does.”

“We look forward to the jam sessions with John all month! He is incredibly patient, knowledgeable, and encouraging. I wish I had learned to play music like this.”

“I have a blast playing guitar and singing with John. With John's patience and instruction, I feel like I have a great jam coach.”

“No matter your age or skill level John encourages, gently guides, and finds the joy in making music.”

John Treacy (Olympia WA)

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John Treacy of Olympia, Washington plays mandolin and guitar with the Late For Dinner String Band, singing lead and harmony vocals. Since the ‘90s he has performed in numerous bands, playing a mix of old time, bluegrass, and other acoustic string music. John teaches mandolin and has offered workshops on jamming and bluegrass repertoire at Walker Creek Music Camp, California Bluegrass Association’s Summer Music Camp, and the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop. For 16 years, John was part of the leadership of the California Coast Music Camp.

“John is not only a fantastic musician, but an incredibly patient teacher whose unflappable nature helps to create a very safe environment to learn new skills.”

“John's teaching was very well organized. His familiarity with a vast range of tunes was clear in his response to more advanced players, and his inviting good nature had beginners singing and playing along.”

“John is a teacher by nature, and it shows in his generosity of spirit, his patience, and in the way he encourages growth without making you feel rushed.”

“... a patient, knowing, flexible, instructor with a willingness to give each student the help they need. He's calm, reassuring, and encouraging. In other words, a great teacher and a great musician.”

“John is relaxed and responsive in encouraging my growth and the challenges I'm working with.”

Jon Peik (Wauwatosa WI)

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Jon Peik has performed in bluegrass, gospel, and country bands including the Nob Hill Boys, the Pitneys, and Above the Town. His bands have appeared on Prairie Home Companion and with the Milwaukee Pops. Jon teaches bluegrass banjo (his specialty), mandolin, and guitar. His gentle humor and patience quickly put students at ease.

“Jon inspired confidence in even this faint-at-heart beginning jammer!”

“The consummate teacher. He is supportive and encouraging; instruction and information that is easily understood in a relaxing and comfortable manner.”

“Jon Peik knows bluegrass, knows how to teach, and is always ready with a smile and a word of encouragement.”

“Jon kept us at ease with his sense of humor and his encouragement, while boiling down bluegrass technique into easily understood examples.”

“What I liked best about Jon's teaching style is he always gave specific positive reinforcement. . . nudging me toward new skills, like singing and playing breaks.”

“Jon's gentle and supportive teaching style gave me the courage to play with others, improving both my playing and my confidence--not to mention it is great fun!”

KC Groves (Lyons CO)

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KC Groves is an accomplished instrumentalist (mandolin, guitar, bass), vocalist and songwriter at the forefront of Colorado's bluegrass scene. As bandleader of the popular group Uncle Earl for over a decade, she helped bring old-time music to major festival stages in the United States and abroad. Along with founding the successful High Street Concert series in Lyons, KC has spearheaded the long-running weekly bluegrass jam at Oskar Blues and is a member of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society's Hall Of Honor.

“KC has the ability to connect with students at all levels of musical ability. She is incredibly supportive in jams. Most importantly, she makes it all fun.”

“KC helped me understand the basics of singing bluegrass harmonies. I put them to work immediately at the local weekly jam.”

“After only a few mandolin lessons with KC my 9-year-old daughter and I can now pick together!”

“KC's musical expertise, her experience as a performer, and in-depth knowledge of the Colorado bluegrass scene, gives the feel of a "master class" for even the newest pickers.”

“KC is a wealth of knowledge and has a passion for sharing that knowledge with students of all ages in a way that is both fun and very informative.”

Kelly Bogan (Spokane WA)

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Kelly Bogan is a multi-instumentalist, accomplished songwriter, and has taught privately for 25 years. Kelly is also active in the Inland Northwest Bluegrass Association, which has named his band Molly & Tenbrooks Band of the Year, with Kelly winning Dobro Player of the Year. He has taught workshops in banjo, Dobro, and vocal harmony at the Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival and at the Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival in Washington. Kelly is very comfortable with new students and enthusiastic about introducing them to the wonderful world of bluegrass.

“Kelly's expertise, patience, and experience have given me the success and confidence I've needed as a beginning instrumentalist. His joy of music and contagious enthusiasm have given me a love for bluegrass.”

“I have been to other "slow jams" before; these have not been helpful. This class was a really great introduction into actually learning how to jam and play with others.”

“I really enjoyed Kelly leading the class. He has so much experence in all aspects and has a great way of teaching. I thought everyone had a fun time and learned a great deal. This jam class opens our eyes and ears to the wonderful fun of playing with others.”

“Kelly is an excellent and organized teacher and the interaction with classmates was fun and a learning experience.”

“He put in the extra hours and we enjoyed the fun. This type of class is something I've been wishing for for quite a while. I more than feel I got a good value out of the deal.”

“Kelly is very exuberant, happy and fun to be with. He is a great jam leader and invites everyone to do solos. Kelly is extremely talented and his example draws us in and invites us to move forward. I never miss the group unless I can't possibly be there. It is an exciting journey with Kelly's leadership.”

“He put in the extra hours and we enjoyed the fun. This type of class is something i've been wishing for for quite a while. I more than feel I got a good value out of the deal.”

“A good guy, knowledgeable, great picker, and a terrific sense of humor.”

“I learned a huge amount in the class and look forward to taking it again with the hope that I will be more skilled and prepared to improve.”

“It's always light hearted and fun”

“Can't tell Kelly enough how much I enjoy it, and how much we all appreciate him.”

“Keep up the great stuff!”

“A safe environment. I was terrorized at first, but I hung in there.”

“I cannot thank Kelly enough for introducing me to bluegrass banjo and helping me along the journey of a beginning player. I have referred other music students to Kelly without reservation.”

“Kelly is an excellent and organized teacher and the interaction with classmates was fun and a learning experience.”

“I really enjoyed Kelly leading the class. He has so much experence in all aspects and has a great way of teaching. I thought everyone had a fun time and learned a great deal. This jam class opens our eyes and ears to the wonderful fun of playing with others.”

“I love Kelly's jam class. I have gained enough skill to fully enjoy our group and actively participate. It has been the most fun and painless learning I can remember. For me, and the other regular group players, our jam is a time to grow and share music together that is a priority for all of us.”

Kevin Slick (Louisville CO)

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Kevin Slick has been performing, writing, and recording music for over 35 years. A talented multi-instrumentalist (guitar, mandolin, banjo), he has recorded over 30 albums as a solo artist or as part of a group, and teaches music as well. He plays mostly progressive bluegrass with The Savage Hearts and mostly traditional bluegrass with the Steel Pennies. Kevin is a photographer, visual artist, school teacher and long-term resident of Louisville, CO.

“Kevin has boundless energy and a vast knowledge of music and music history which he shares with students.”

“Kevin weaves the magic and mystery of learning into an exciting learning experience.”

“A consistently caring, warm and engaging atmosphere.”

“Kevin's personal warmth and experienced musicianship, as well as his "teacher's heart" makes him a valued part of the Wernick Method system. (Pete Wernick)”

“I'm impressed by his perceptiveness, intelligence and ability to tailor how he teaches to whoever he is teaching.”

“What a magical and memorable experience!”

“Kevin and Terry's patience, humor and skills were hugely appreciated.”

Kristin Scott & Wayne Benson (Boiling Springs SC)

[Email Kristin Scott & Wayne]      [Watch Kristin Scott & Wayne play]

Kristin Scott & Wayne Benson are both certified Wernick Method teachers. Kristin is 4-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year and known for her taste, timing, and tone, and for being a true team player. One of the first females to work in a top-tier bluegrass band, The Grascals, she has performed on The Tonight Show, The Talk, almost 200 times on the Grand Ole Opry, and in concerts for two U.S. Presidents. Wayne is 5-time SPBGMA Mandolin Player of the Year, and in addition to full-time performing with IIIrd Tyme Out he records, freelances, and teaches online and in-person lessons.

“Kristin has a genuine warmth that makes you try hard and lures you into believing "I can do this."”

“Her easy nature and quick wit had me completely at ease. I am somehow left with a previously unknown desire to practice.”

“I was intimidated by Kristin's talent but from the first, she truly welcomed me.”

“Wayne immediately put me at ease. He has a very calm manner and it's easy to tell he spends his days teaching.”

“Wayne is my favorite mandolin player and I soon found that he's as good at teaching as he is playing.”

Larry Kernagis (Mt Juliet TN)

[Email Larry]

Larry Kernagis was raised during the folk revival era of the 60s, cutting his chops on Flatt and Scruggs and the Kingston Trio. Eventually, he became a banjo instructor at the famed Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. Larry has led Bluegrass jams at festivals across the country for the past 30 years. He now employs his banjo, guitar and vocal skills entertaining with "greengrass" Celtic group Def Leprechaun.

“Larry was an excellent instructor. Patient and kind, he brought the music to life and gave me the tools to do the same.”

“Larry encouraged us to try and get beyond our fears and try different things. He is very patient.”

“When I was young I was a classically trained violinist, but Larry taught me to play music with the other half of my brain...It's been a great experience.”

“I really feel like I improved and am now able to jam with almost anyone.”

“Larry made sure I felt comfortable and provided me with appropriate help and feedback to ensure I had a great time. I now wouldn't hesitate to jump in and jam.”

“A great camp. A good balance of comfort and challenge.”

“[Larry] was cheerful, supportive and encouraging throughout the weekend.”

“Larry was very quick to determine our skill level and proceed accordingly.”

“Larry was willing to point out our mistakes in a nice way. I also like that we worked on songs in several keys and went over them in order to make improvements.”

Leigh Nelson (Boiling Springs SC)

[Email Leigh]

Leigh Nelson came to bluegrass music in the 80s when friends were jamming and she wanted in on the fun. Leigh learned by ear and developed her skills at jam sessions and festivals. Most at home on her 5-string bass, she also plays guitar and mandolin. Combining her experience as corporate CEO in Arizona with her passion for jamming, Leigh has been an indispensable partner for her husband Gilbert Nelson at Wernick Method jam camps since 2011. Affectionately known as “General Leigh” at jam camps, she is adored as a seasoned and skilled teacher who treats everyone like family.

“Leigh serves all who attend with genuine pleasure and friendship.”

“Leigh made it fun and easy, a wealth of knowledge.”

“She put me at ease and got me across the finish line.”

“Leigh knows jamming, she’s da bomb!”

Leslie Dare & Susan West (Raleigh NC)

[Email Leslie Dare & Susan]      [Visit Leslie Dare & Susan's website]

Leslie Dare & Susan West have found great synergy in working together to teach others the essentials of bluegrass jamming. Both grew up with music but after being musically inactive for many years, both joined the bluegrass community through their experiences as Wernick Method campers, re-discovering the joys of music later in life. Leslie plays guitar and Susan plays mandolin and bass. They are both active in the Raleigh, NC-area jamming scene, and are the co-founders of the Wolfpack Pickers Jam at NC State University in Raleigh.

“Susan West and Leslie Dare are both excellent musicians and teachers. I have been impressed with their ability to help others learn and grow.”

“Leslie has a very calming and positive energy which informs her interactions with other jammers. She articulates clear, encouraging ideas for improvement when I've felt awkward or self-conscious about my performance and skills.”

“Susan is a positive, encouraging, and kind teacher who has a love for the music.”

“Leslie is a talented, welcoming leader who makes jamming fun for everyone, regardless of their level of proficiency.”

“Other jam leaders have made me feel intimidated; Susan has such an encouraging approach, and you sense that anything is possible.”

“Both Susan and Leslie are great at leading jams. They are both very relaxed, but focused in Jam settings. They go out of their way to involve everyone.”

Liam Purcell (Deep Gap NC)

[Email Liam]      [Visit Liam's website]

Liam Purcell plays all the bluegrass instruments, sings lead and harmony and writes songs. Having grown up in Deep Gap, NC a mile from Doc and Merle Watson, he takes pride in local traditional music and works to keep it growing. Since 2014 Liam has led the band Cane Mill Road, performing at major bluegrass festivals from MerleFest to Silver Dollar City. Mentored since age 10 by Pete Wernick, Liam is the youngest Wernick Method teacher, having taught at over a dozen camps and workshops and teaching old-time classes at Appalachian State University.

“Liam is an amazing coach. He has such a natural talent for teaching, regardless of the age or ability of the pickers he is coaching.”

“So very kind and a natural teacher, one of the most talented people I have met.”

“Liam was a huge help in helping me understand more about fiddle and guitar chords, exactly what I needed to move to the next level.”

“Liam did a great exercise on splitting breaks that was fun and really taught us to listen and jump in at the right spot.”

Lynn Kelley (Virginia Beach VA)

[Email Lynn]

Lynn Kelley took up guitar at age 11 and began playing with others soon after. She performs on and has taught all the bluegrass instruments, with her versatility extending to country, country rock, ragtime blues guitar, contemporary Christian, and Americana. Specializing in flat pick guitar, she has played in bluegrass bands including The Nothin' Doin' Band and The Muddy Creek Band. After teaching for years at Norfolk's Ramblin' Conrad's & A&E Music, she now operates Kelley Music Studios in Virginia Beach.

“Lynn is a great teacher. Of many I have had over the years, she is the best, most knowledgeable, and most fun.”

“Very patient, knowledgeable, and encouraging.”

“With a firm and gentle approach Lynn keeps me on track and challenges me to reach my potential.”

“Lynn is a fine, patient instructor! She stresses the basics, yet makes it fun. I highly recommend Lynn!”

“Lynn feeds off of you, making the learning fun and effective. Very relaxing yet challenging. I learned a lot in a short time.”

“My daughter really enjoys her lessons with Lynn and feels she is learning more with Lynn than in school, especially in the basics. I would highly recommend Lynn to anyone.”

Lynn Young (Buffalo WY)

[Email Lynn]

Lynn Young is a veteran musician and Wernick Method jam teacher who has played in bluegrass and old-time string bands around the country during his 38 years with the US Forest Service. He teaches private lessons on several instruments, plays in local bands and is a regular at the famous Thursday Night Occidental Jam in Buffalo.

“The perfect person to teach a class like this.”

“Lynn is always so upbeat and he knows what he is talking about.”

“Lynn is patient, understanding, knowledgeable, and experienced.”

“He did an outstanding job!”

“It was just SO FUN!”

Maggie Moore (Huntington WV)

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Maggie Moore is a singer/songwriter with Appalachian roots, growing up in Virginia and later moving to West Virginia and Colorado. A music history major, she has sung in gospel, folk, rock, jazz, classical, and bluegrass groups. In Colorado Maggie started performing bluegrass with the Drifter Band, which hosted a regular bluegrass gospel jam. She now teaches mandolin and singing as well as bluegrass jamming. In recent years Maggie has expanded into songwriting. She and her partner, Ricky G Fox, have recorded 3 CDs and are known for their authentic, homespun duo sound.

“Maggie and Ricky were extremely friendly, accepting, enthusiastic, and encouraging. They were also quite knowledgeable of their instruments, the Wernick method, jams, singing, and Bluegrass music. I highly recommend them and their class.”

“Maggie and Rick were very patient and encouraging throughout class and I always left class with a smile.”

“Maggie and Ricky are great, and they made it interesting and informative, and fun.”

“Maggie and Ricky worked well presenting the class. All questions received an informed answer. It was very fun and interesting!”

“Maggie is kind, thoughtful, and a 4 star good musician.”

“Ms. Moore is quite a delightful teacher. She is smart, caring, intelligent.”

“She is fun, loves music, respectful, cares about people.”

“One of the best teachers I have ever had!”

Mark Miracle (Phoenix AZ)

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Mark Miracle plays mandolin and guitar, and has taught at many workshops including the Sorrento, British Columbia Bluegrass Week. With Sawmill Road he has toured the US & Europe, and won Band of the Year at Huck Finn Jubilee.

“Learned a lot. Would never have had the guts to show up at a jam.”

“My objective, getting a lot of jamming done, was met!”

“Mark was superb!”

“The class is just about perfect. Mark did a great job, both with the group and individually. Worth every penny!”

“Very encouraging.”

Mark Sunderwirth (New York City NY)

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Mark Sunderwirth has played music for the past 20 years starting with the Brooklyn-based BTF and recently the Sue Batkin Band. Mark began teaching 10 years ago, introducing both kids and adults to the joys of playing bluegrass and jamming together. Mark's entertaining and informative style of teaching stresses fun, success, and growth.

“Mark's patience and expertise really helped me make the leap from playing alone to playing with someone else. We started playing together from our first lesson.”

“Mark is just a warm and kind teacher. He's non-judgmental and encouraging. He makes it safe to reach and stretch yourself. I never worried about making mistakes or sounding like a beginner”

“Just a darn good teacher! I've learned a lot!”

“Mark's classes are always well thought out and organized. I've had more than a few confusing music teachers in the past. He made it so easy to understand. I wish I had started with him years ago!”

“I really enjoy Mark's teaching style. His enthusiasm is infectious, we always have a lot of fun. He can be pretty funny, and that actually seems to make it easier to learn!”

“Mark is a great teacher and a lot of fun.”

“Mark is simply a terrific teacher. He's knowledgeable, confident, enthusiastic, patient and crystal clear in his explanations. I wish I'd taken this course 20 years ago.”

“Mark is a great teacher--encouraging, clear, challenges students in a wonderful way.”

“I want to thank Mark for his enthusiasm and excellent instruction. We laughed a lot and played a lot of fun songs. And the best thing he did was bringing out the shyest students.”

Matt Richardson (Lincoln NE)

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Matt Richardson Matt Richardson has played, performed and recorded music most of his life. His first love was rock guitar, playing in blues and rock bands before being drawn back to the country style of music he grew up with. He attended many Steve Hanson bluegrass camps and soon after his wife gifted him a banjo, was playing it in bluegrass bands. The couple own Blue Raven Music where Matt teaches banjo, guitar and bass and coaches folk and rock bands. He currently plays in three bands and continues to take lessons to learn different instruments.

“Matt puts students at ease and is good at being able to teach appropriately to their skill level.”

“I appreciate Matt's patient and encouraging approach as a teacher.”

“Matt is very good at making you feel like we're all just at different places in the same journey.”

“Matt provides me opportunities and skills that build my confidence in learning music.”



“Matt provides me opportunities and skills that build my confidence in learning music.”

Max Schwartz (South Miami FL)

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Max Schwartz is from Berkeley CA, currently attending the U. of Miami Frost School of Music on scholarship. He is acclaimed as both a bluegrass and jazz musician, having won the 2019 Rockygrass Banjo Competition and being a two-time member of the GRAMMY® Jazz Combo. He toured for three years with renowned bluegrass bandleader Laurie Lewis and now plays with the Stamps Jazz Quintet. Max has taught bass, banjo, fiddle, jamming, band skills, and more at bluegrass camps including the Walker Creek Music Camp, the California Bluegrass Association Youth Academy, and Fiddlekids.

“His enthusiasm was infectious and his knowledge boundless. He was a great teacher but more importantly, is a great guy who by nature goes the extra mile.”

“Max was knowledgeable, well-prepared, and patient with a very diverse group (experience-wise). Most of all, he was a lot of fun!”

“He comes to a class with a plan, yet is facile and skilled enough to adapt/adjust his teaching methods to meet varying needs.”

“Max is truly exceptional. He is an incredibly positive and patient teacher. He has just the right touch of enthusiasm combined with sincerity. Max’s love of music comes through in his teaching.”

Michael Jockel (Alsbach-Haehnlein Germany)

[Email Michael]

Michael Jockel began playing music as a teenager, in various Rock, Folk, and Country groups. After discovering Bluegrass and the 5-string banjo at age 18, he has now performed on banjo, guitar and dobro with the German band Grass Unlimited for over 35 years. He regularly attends bluegrass jams in Germany and Holland. Michael teaches guitar and banjo and also runs Pickin’ Rooster Recording Studio specialising in acoustic music recordings.

“Michael’s approach is to encourage playing by ear. I used to learn tunes, now I play music.”

“It was a fantastic experience playing together, and listening to one another. The atmosphere was relaxed. Michael made sure that everyone could participate according their skills. He encouraged everybody to play a solo - thus everyone was able to contribute and the whole session was a huge success.”

“Michael is very clear and understandable. He additionally is a likeable person.”

“Michael is a great traditional Banjo player and teacher. He teaches me the "Basics" and we have a lot of fun.”

Michelle Wallace (Prichard WV)

[Email Michelle]

Michelle Wallace has been active in bluegrass music for more than 20 years. Promoting bluegrass music in eastern Kentucky has been a way of life and goal for her. Hosting the "Bluegrass Sunday" radio program for over 10 years on WMKY and leading her own band, Hazel Holler, has kept her involved with bluegrass music in Kentucky. Michelle has studied at Morehead State University's Traditional Music Program and assisted Pete Wernick with his jam camp in Morehead (Michelle at far right in photo below).

“Always positive and encouraging.”

“Fun for the beginner student as well as the advanced pickers.”

“Easy to understand.”

“Taught me a lot about bluegrass music and how to use a capo.”

“Makes learning fun.”

Nate Schwartz and Grant Milliken (Los Angeles CA)

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Nate Schwartz and Grant Milliken have played music together since 2010, performing bluegrass as well as jazz, rock, and R&B in some of LA's most prestigious venues. Nate grew up playing mandolin and singing with his family bluegrass band, Oak Grove, recording two records and playing major California bluegrass festivals. Grant—along with 15 years playing acoustic guitar—is an in-demand keyboardist and record producer, helping bands shape their sound and create compelling performances. Nate and Grant live just north of Culver City, where they record, host concerts and jam sessions, and teach out of their homes.

“Grant follows a 'learning music should be fun' philosophy. Even explaining something technical, he doesn’t rely on jargon to get his point across.”

“Nate has a deep love and knowledge of music, yet is very patient and thorough in his explanation of concepts!”

“Grant always finds exciting ways to tie his lessons back to fundamentals, very helpful as I develop my musicianship.”

“When Nate showed me how to solo using the melody it was like a lightbulb went on in my brain! No more jam sessions dreading my turn for a solo ...”

“Grant has really helped me so I can play with other musicians and know the 'lingo'.”

Nelson Hiller (Sutton MA)

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Nelson Hiller is an experienced bluegrass and Americana musician who plays with the trio Sinner’s Pie. His main instruments are mandolin, guitar and upright bass. Nelson enjoys helping less experienced players and has conducted Slow Jam workshops at Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival and Gibson Hill Bluegrass Festival. He also runs slow jams for Rhode Island Bluegrass Association.

“Nelson is a great jam leader. He excels at putting jammers at ease and builds their confidence, allowing them to concentrate on enjoying the music.”

“He never loses sight of the fact that he was once an outsider looking in at bluegrass jams. This informs his approach to teaching and helps him connect with students.”

“Nelson's passion for teaching is clear as soon as you meet him. He is clear and easy to understand and he makes jammers feel comfortable taking chances.”

“Nelson's patience and ability to notice where members of the group needed advice was a huge help.”

Pat Carine (Medway OH)

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Pat Carine has been teaching private lessons in his home area of Medway for over ten years, on banjo, guitar, mandolin and fiddle. He plays banjo in a traditional bluegrass band, Storm's Creek, and in a new, more progressive group called Mad River Railroad. He hosts jam groups for the benefit of students and others in the community.

“Pat is an amazing teacher! He always comes to class with a sense of humor and creates a learning environment that's easy to feel comfortable in.”

“I learned to play music with other people even if I didn't know the song being played.”

“Excellent job in exposing the bluegrass jam experience and encouraging participants.”

“I enjoyed singing a lot! I felt I was able to build confidence with each class and learn what key I sing best in.”

“Thanks for teaching me mandolin and introducing me your weekly jam session!”

“Pat has done a masterful job at creating a safe environment for us to learn in. Everyone in my groups has lead, played solos and sung a song.”

“Pat is a very good teacher and a good guy. He makes music lessons enjoyable. In jam sessions he promotes participation by all.”

“Pat has been teaching my son guitar and mandolin for 2 years. He is very accomodating and patient, and has become a friend and a mentor as well as a great teacher!”

“At age 52 with no musical experience, learning the banjo could be daunting but Pat has made the experience wonderful. He is very patient and makes it easy to relax and learn at my own pace, but most of all, he makes it fun!”

Patsy Kline (Lawn PA)

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Patsy Kline has led mandolin and jam workshops at bluegrass festivals in several different states, and for many years has assisted at Pete Wernick's Gettysburg Jam Camp and at Steve Kaufman Acoustic Kamps. A multi-instrumentalist, her natural teaching ability and empathy for new pickers enable Pat to educate and inspire.

“Best fun ever playing with a group. Thanks Patsy!”

“Miss Pat is kindhearted and understands how to help a beginner player fit in.”

“You make jamming do-able!”

“You know how to explain stuff and make playing with others really enjoyable.”

“We couldn't run jam camps without you. The kids really get a kick out of you and they're playing!”

Paul Dube and Erin Dube (Pawtucket RI)

[Email Paul Dube and Erin]

Paul Dube and Erin Dube teach as a team. Paul plays Bluegrass, Folk, Blues, Irish, Cajun and Old-Time music on Guitar, Accordion, Mandolin and Harmonica. He has played in numerous performing bands and has led Slow Jam workshops at the Joe Val and Podunk festivals, and since 2003 the jamming program at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival. Erin grew up going to bluegrass jams with her father and over the years learned to play guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and upright bass. Now an English Professor, she combines her love for teaching with her love for music in the Wernick Method.

“Paul is very talented and very personable. He takes time to go over things and makes sure everybody understands before he moves on.”

“Erin was magnificent. She so cut to the chase and made it all make sense.”

“Atmosphere of the class is EXCELLENT!!! Very relaxed. One of the most enjoyable classes I've ever had.”

“Erin was an amazing teacher. Had she taught me in middle school I would have had less anxiety and would not have quit.”

“Paul is a very encouraging, caring instructor who challenges us without overwhelming us. I feel safe to try things with this group.”

“I've been wanting to play more with others but feeling very intimidated. This was a safe encouraging place to start. Loved it!”

“This was the best class so far. I am actually singing at jams now.”

“I appreciate the thoughtfulness that Paul and Erin put into every minute of every class. They sincerely seem to love teaching.”

“An excellent class taught professionally by both Paul and Erin. Truly a thumbs up experience ...”

Perry Brake (Tellico Plains TN)

[Email Perry]

Perry Brake has been playing, singing and performing for most of his life, playing guitar as well as old-time banjo, mountain dulcimer and ukulele. His music of choice ranges from Bluegrass to Folk, Rock and Roll and Gospel. He performs in an acoustic duet and participates at singer/songwriter/performer/teacher workshops and conferences. Perry and his wife Diana have hosted weekly jam sessions at their home in Tellico Plains for several years with great success. Guests come away from the jams with smiles, and he is always willing to work with aspiring musicians to better their ability to play with others.

“When we jam, Perry is always looking for teaching moments. He has me playing songs without sheet music or tab. It's challenging, rewarding and immensely satisfying.”

“Perry would be a good teacher for ANYONE who is truly interested in learning or improving. He is a long-time player who loves music and is more than willing to share his wealth of knowledge.”

“Perry makes you comfortable in participating encourages learning and is able to show how to improve in ways that not only foster a desire to improve, but practical means of achieving it. Perry has the patience with students that comes from caring for them and from the love of music.”

Pete Mirando (Angola NY)

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Pete Mirando has been a musician for over 45 years, playing 5-string and plectrum banjo, mandolin, hammered dulcimer and acoustic guitar, for which he has given private lessons since 1974. His banjo class for Hamburg Central Schools’ adult ed program was featured in a national publication and led to a Folk/Bluegrass Jamboree and an introductory instruction class in two local school systems. Pete has played in bluegrass bands for years and now leads the Sunset Bluegrass Band. He also plays with the Buffalo Banjo Band and the Niagara Frontier Fiddle Club, and is the owner and operator of Southtowns Banjo.

“Pete is welcoming to all players - banjo, guitar, mandolin, etc. The sessions are relaxed and fun. Pete encourages us to do whatever is comfortable and to take lead breaks as we are ready. I recommend him as a teacher.”

“After many years of playing guitar on my own, I joined Pete Mirando's Jam Class and I'm sure glad I did! Pete has a knack for leading groups of mixed abilities. In this fun, relaxed atmosphere, I have grown to love Bluegrass music and am now more confident to play out with other musicians!”

“Pete's love of bluegrass is infectious. He is a gifted teacher and musician who relates to students of all abilities. He makes our jam sessions not only fun, but educational too.”

“A wonderful talented instructor. The pace was perfect for us beginners. His relaxed manner and his “you can do it” attitude was refreshing. We never felt intimidated to try something new, make a mistake, laugh and move on.”

Peter Ruby (Prague Czech Republic)

[Email Peter]

Peter Ruby started guitar in his teens and discovered bluegrass in the 1990s, gaining experience while living in Australia and the U.S., as well as in his Czech homeland. In the U.S. he attended festivals throughout the bluegrass "heartland" and made seven guest appearances at the famous Nashville bluegrass center, The Station Inn. As a lead singer and bandleader in Prague he was named “Discovery of the Year” in 1998 by the Czech Bluegrass Association. In 2004 he started a regular jam session that continues. Peter shares his years of study of bluegrass singing in his instruction book Secrets of High Lonesome Singing.

“Jam Camp in Prague was one of the best times I had during almost 16 years in Europe. The best part was when we broke into groups to practice jamming together. Peter Ruby really stood out. He mentored our group with patience, skill, and good humor. No pressure, just strong encouragement. He made me feel at ease so I could give it my best.”

“.... encouraging, always patient and nice and most of all enthusiastic about the topic of the camp. Ever since I attended the camp my approach to music and Bluegrass has been different. I now know what I need to practice to improve.”

Petr Brandejs (Nový Jičín Czech Republic)

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Petr Brandejs has been voted Banjo Player of the Year three times in the Czech Republic. After leading the Petr Brandejs Band (1995-2010), he now performs with the traditional Czech band Bluegrass Cwrkot. He has produced a banjo instruction book in Czech and a DVD, Czech Bluegrass Hits For The Five String Banjo. Since 1995 Petr has organized workshops and taught in Norway, Slovenia, and Slovakia. He is also a former chairman of the European Bluegrass Music Association!

“I’d like to thank you and the others for a great experience at your workshop!”

“I was VERY satisfied with everything, the workshop really helped me a lot. See you next time!”

Pierre Bastide (Paris France)

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Pierre Bastide (aka ResoMan) has picked the dobro for many years and plays with The Bluegrass Compagnie, The Paris Bluegrass Band, and other bands. He also enjoys playing swing, blues, country and most forms of modern music. He has led several resonator guitar workshops in Europe and coordinates The La Roche Bluegrass Workshop. Pierre is a regular at the famed Walnut Valley Festival in Kansas, where he earned the title of Unofficial Reso Champion 2006. In a news article about WVF campground jams he was mentioned as the "French dobro player that sounded like a Nashville sessions player."

“Pierre Bastide is as dedicated as they come, a strong and sympathetic workshop organiser/teacher and a supportive jam leader with a thoughtful and passionate attitude. His sensitivity when it comes to working with those who are just starting out is second to none.”

“He is very supportive and encouraging. Pierre knows how to take the time to make sure we understand.”

“Pierre's passion for jamming makes him a good teacher for this. He is patient in the way he demonstrates how a jam works, and what my part is. He also transfers some of this passion onto the students. Makes them want to jam and shine.”

“In a slow jam with different instruments, he welcomes beginners and makes sure the more advanced players will not speed up too soon and take over. He will go through a step by step explanation of what makes a slow jam work and be fun.”

Rex Kerbs (Auburn WA)

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Rex Kerbs has attended bluegrass festivals and played banjo at jams in the Pacific Northwest for more than 15 years. Jamming with friends has led to informal bands -- the Orting Valley Pickers and the Second Saturday Bluegrass Boys. A former school principal and teacher in grades K-12, Rex loves to help students succeed and discover the pleasure of learning something new as they find their way in the bluegrass musical community.

“Rex shows endless amounts of patience, helps us learn from our mistakes and achieve goals.”

“I really enjoyed Rex's sense of humor and great teaching skills.”

“Thanks for your dedication to students.”

“Rex is a fun and caring teacher.”

“I appreciate your focus on what really counts.”

Rick Sparks (Reno NV)

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Rick Sparks is equally at home playing banjo, guitar, mandolin, dobro and pedal steel guitar, and singing either lead or harmony. He has developed a reputation as an outstanding teacher on all of his instruments and currently has over 30 students under his wing.

“Rick got us to make music together by the end of the first class--it seemed miraculous to me.”

“Great class, Great fun!”

“Rick is so patient and generous with his time and expertise.”

“Rick did a superb job of teaching a mixed group of mostly beginners (I am one) and intermediate musicians to jam.”

“You know how to put people at ease!”

“Rick's gentle yet persuasive nature is perfect for managing a jam class.”

“The most balanced class/workshop I have ever attended, with the right amount of teaching, playing, and material covered.”

“Our group "final" really showcased how everyone had improved and how much fun we all had.”

“It was a very positive experience that fully met my expectations.”

“I am learning a lot and most importantly having a good time. The instructor and assistant are enjoyable and patient which creates an atmosphere conducive to learning.”

Ron Perry (Webster NY)

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Ron Perry plays mandolin in the Linabelle Bluegrass band and sings lead and harmony. He has also played acoustic and electric guitar in praise bands, acoustic bass in a performing old-time fiddle club, electric bass in Oldies rock and roll bands, and lead electric guitar in blues bands. Ron offers individual lessons for new students of guitar and mandolin. Ron has been a fine arts instructor in continuing education programs in local school districts and served several years as Adjunct Faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology, College of Design, Rochester NY.

“You can see the passion that he has for both teaching and playing music. Very friendly, very welcoming and very knowledgeable.”

“So patient and encouraging ... Thanks for helping me to hear the melody and turn that into a simple flat picked solo.”

“With Ron's patience and skill, I have learned so much, working at something that is certainly not in my comfort zone. Always upbeat and never discouraging.”

Russell Paswater (North Vernon IN)

[Email Russell]

Russell Paswater has played and taught bluegrass banjo and guitar for 38 years. He is a songwriter and sings in two bands including the H2O band, second place winner of the Bluegrass Band contest at Beanblossom, 2000. Russell has guided hundreds of jam sessions at bluegrass festivals and always invites beginners because "It’s all about FUN!"

“It was a great experience and Russell was great!”

“Russell was an extremely effective instructor who was interested in the success of each student and demonstrated excellent teaching skills. This was more like a friend helping you learn.”

“A life-changing experience!”

“Really enjoyed his personality. Good positive role model and very patient with beginner players.”

“A very worthwhile experience.”

“I have been a music instructor since 1968. I think you got it just right. I had not played stringed instrument before and this made it easy and comfortable.”

“Russell and Cindy were great. They offered spot-on information and all the encouragement and cheerleading one could hope for.”

“Russell is a good teacher. His years of experience and training make him well qualified. He is also passionate about Bluegrass jamming and it is infectious!”

“Russell and Cindy are such stewards for the love of Bluegrass. If anyone wants to start learning how to play music this is the class for you.”

Ryan Tilby (Santa Clara UT)

[Email Ryan]      [Visit Ryan's website]

Ryan Tilby is a Utah State contest winner on banjo, mandolin, and guitar, and has worked as a musician or recording engineer in every major studio in Utah. With years under his belt touring with Ryan Shupe's Rubber Band (signed to Capitol Records), Ryan has played venues around the world and recorded on hundreds of projects, including two solo albums. Having recently moved (with his family) to St. George, he enjoys teaching all levels of students.

“Ryan takes the time to find out what I'm wanting to learn and how best to teach me.”

“Unlike most teachers, Ryan has the benefit of being a professional musician. He really knows what he's talking about. And he is a monster musician on multiple instruments and knows the ins and outs of how they all work best together. I feel lucky to get to have a small piece of this passed on to me.”

“Ryan understands my questions and gives me simple answers. He's made mandolin playing simple and approachable.”

“In a few lessons with Ryan I've already been surprised with how quickly the songs are coming along. Playing banjo has always been on my list, and I'm glad I'm finally doing it!”

“I liked that there were people of all ability levels, and that we could learn from each other.”

“Ryan Tilby is outstanding as a teacher/leader. His passion for Bluegrass and willingness to share it are infectious.”

“Ryan did a great job incorporating everyone's' skill an having them feel comfortable in the class.”

“Ryan was great. He has a wonderful way of making people feel comfortable and encouraging them when they are out of their comfort level.”

“... hell of a lot of fun, and I believe my playing has improved tremendously since the start of the workshop. I always felt encouraged and "at home." Mistakes were well tolerated and expected, all with a great sense of humor. Ryan's musicianship was a definite plus along with his openness and willingness to share his knowledge. It gave me an opportunity to experience interacting with other musicians that I can't get anywhere else. It was like coming in each week and sitting down with a bunch of good friends and jamming. Everyone was very helpful and encouraging.”

Scott Hopkins (Delanson NY)

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Scott Hopkins grew up hearing bluegrass recordings in his home. At 15 he took up banjo and also joined the school band on tuba, fully immersing himself in the study of music. Scott received music education degrees from Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and the University of Connecticut, winning the Crane Concerto Competition on tuba. Scott is a school band teacher and has continued to play banjo in bands in New York and Vermont. He currently performs with the Upstate Bluegrass Band and has released an acclaimed banjo recording, using his skills as composer, arranger, producer and engineer.

“Scott blends just the right amount of silly with serious to create a learning experience that’s thorough AND fun!”

“Scott has a way with students like no other, I’m so glad I chose him to teach me how to play!”

“Scott does a fine job of defining goals and structuring our time around those goals.”

“Good for the soul, yet easy. He broke down to simple ingredients, mix in a dash of music theory, a pinch of fun and always end with a jam.”

Scott Wilkins (Cherry Hill NJ)

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Scott Wilkins has been jamming since 1974, first on bass, then mandolin and guitar. He has been teaching music for decades. He has performed throughout the U.S. and currently plays with numerous bands in South Jersey including The Blind Squirrels, Let's Ride Bikes, and Gladstone Revival. Scott started an after-school program at Lindenwood High School, called "Hey, We're Jammin' " in 2009. Scott's natural tendency is to encourage everyone to play an instrument, and his passion is to help beginners learn the art of jamming. Scott is also the founder of BackstageView.com which interviews artists, showcases bands and keeps up with the Grass Roots scene.

“Scott makes it fun to learn. He got me jamming in no time. Best teacher ever.”

“Mr. W's world is music and his enthusiasm is contagious. He always is fun and he has taught us so much.”

“Scott is mister mandolinman sharing his love of music. I couldn't believe I was jamming right away and I love it. 'Hey, We're Jammin'!'”

“He's patient and fun. Easy learning. Now I'm a picker.”

“Scott is very welcoming and puts everyone at ease.”

“Scott really engages the class. He quietly nudges you into singing and the ever-fearful lead.”

“After a short time it becomes more comfortable as Scott was always encouraging.”

“Scott is great - positive, enthusiastic, welcoming. A great ambassador for the Wernick Method, and a true bluegrass believer.”

“Scott is a fantastic teacher and has a great way of communicating.”

“Scott is very patient and encouraging. It's obvious he loves doing this.”

Sue Coulter (Durango CO)

[Email Sue]

Sue Coulter is a member of Colorado's Bluegrass Hall of Honor, a multi-instrumentalist, and an experienced, much-loved teacher. She has started and guided bluegrass jams for over 20 years, and has played in several bands in Colorado and New Mexico. Sue has led kids' jams, and has served as President of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society.

“Her patience with learners is exceptional!”

“A natural ability to help people of all experience levels fit right in.”

“Visitors comment on how welcoming our jam is, and Sue is the reason why!”

“An encyclopedic knowledge of bluegrass material and history.”

“Excellent class for us beginners who are often intimidated. Sue did an excellent job creating an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement.”

Sue Custer (Luray VA)

[Email Sue]

Sue Custer started music on piano and guitar. After years of playing just for her own enjoyment, she was invited to join her church band and so started at age 50 an incredible journey of learning to play in a band, eventually learning banjo, fiddle, and bass. The banjo led her into jamming and Bluegrass. Sue now plays banjo and fiddle in the Shenandoah Valley Minstrels, performing Civil War Era shows, Bluegrass/gospel, and folk shows. Sue tells her adult students--it is never too late to start learning to play music and having fun doing so!

“Sue does a great job of making learning an instrument fun. She brings the instruction down to the student's age level and their ability. She stays positive and is very encouraging.”

“Sue is very patient and creative and has aroused our son's curiosity about music.”

“Because Sue's lessons are fun and I am learning new techniques--different from my previous "violin" lessons--I find I'm practicing more and enjoying it immensely!”

“Sue has patiently helped me work through my timing issues and I am starting to produce more smooth, connected music!”

“Sue is so energetic, cheerful, relaxed, funny! She was patient and encouraging. I usually get really nervous but I felt so comfortable, it freed me up to learn more.”

Tara Shupe (Salt Lake City UT)

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Tara Shupe was born into a musical family, starting on mandolin at age 4. She learned fiddle and guitar soon after and began teaching in her teens. Her youth bluegrass band toured the world, played major U.S. festivals and recorded three albums. She has also performed in many rock, Celtic and folk bands, currently heads up her own band Tara Shupe and the Ponies, offering a blend of Bluegrass and Americana, and performs solo throughout Utah. Her first solo Indie-Americana album was released last April and she will release new music with her band this fall. She teaches individuals and groups fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and uke in Salt Lake City.

“Tara is easy to learn from and to communicate with. She is encouraging. She keeps me making progress on my skills and inspired to take my learning to the next level.”

“Not only is she great with kids and beginners, but is extremely qualified to work with intermediate and advanced students as well.”

“My kids really enjoyed having Tara as their teacher. We love Tara.”

“Aside from her accomplished playing skills she's been easy and fun to learn from, knows her stuff and is encouraging and patient. Teaching music is clearly in her blood.”

“Great class, really enjoyed all the participants. Tara provides a very stable, encouraging, solid background. It is a very positive, supportive environment.”

“Tara was an excellent instructor, very engaged and emphatic. She created a very safe environment to learn.”

“A great positive experience. Tara made this a fun class with her great attitude -- kind, caring and knowledgeable. Every class was filled with 3 hours of playing great songs.”

“Everyone is included and made to feel like they can play and sing, even if they are just starting out.”

Vera Vann-Wilson (Blue Diamond NV)

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Vera Vann-Wilson plays guitar, banjo, bass, mandolin, fiddle, and Dobro, and has appeared on the Lester Flatt Show and the old and new Grand Ole Opry stages. After a 20-year hiatus as a middle school special education teacher, she dusted off her banjo and joined her current band Stuck in Reverse. In her spare time (!) Vera runs marathons.

“Vera is very patient and understands how each instrument fits into the music, allowing her to give insight to each student.”

“I learned so much from Vera, mainly because of the patience and encouragement she showed me!”

“I appreciate Vera's willingness to help anybody that needs a little assistance.”

“Vera helped me go from total beginner to playing with a band and jamming regularly with several groups. I'm really getting better!”

“The class has also allowed me to connect with the Las Vegas bluegrass community, which I had no idea existed!”