How’s Lessons?

Frequently, someone asks me how teaching banjo lessons is going. I always tell them it is great. And it is: I have just about a full schedule now (I only teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work) with a great bunch of students. It’s very uplifting to be put on the spot for what to cover at each upcoming lesson.

I also have discovered several unexpected benefits of teaching music. One is when you start seeing patterns of successes and patterns of difficulties across many students. For instance, Almost everyone has had questions on playing the break to ‘The Ballad of Jed Clampett’ when they get to the first measure of D in Earl’s tablature. To be aware of these is to be able to more readily address them.

Also, I can now lump most people into one of three categories: those that have initial difficulty doing D position chords, those that have initial difficulty doing F postion chords and those that just breeze through them all. Of course, some have initial difficulty with both D and F but eventually, they seem to have conquered one or the other first.

Among the successes is the satisfaction I have when a student starts showing progress and really gets interested in practicing. At that point they can learn so much! And it mainly has to do with their interest; get keenly interested in something and you’ll overcome a host of roadblocks.

I tell everyone I plan to teach full-time when I retire. Perhaps I’ll add Mandolin, Dulcimer and Bluegrass Guitar to my classes, but who knows when that day will come. I look forward to it, though.

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About Phill Gibson

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama where I work as a Systems Engineer and part-time banjo and mandolin instructor. I've been playing various instruments since my teen years. I started mandolin at about age 17 and banjo at 20. I love just about all kinds of music. In terms of banjo styles, I play Scruggs and melodic and am working on becoming more advanced with single string. I'm also working on 4-finger banjo, which is way off the beaten path. I would like to see more jazz techniques integrated into bluegrass situations; counterpoint, especially. So long-term, that's what I'm doing. I'm also very keen on astronomy, ATM (amateur telescope making), birding, christian homeschooling, martial arts, organic gardening and about 30 other distracting hobbies to a (mercifully) lesser extent.
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