James Hanford

James H.

Allston, MA
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Lesson Details

Banjo

Levels Taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
I teach 3-finger, 5-string banjo. My teaching style is fairly methodical and aimed to develop strong technique and musicianship. Students will use traditional bluegrass to build solid tone production and right hand technique. It is also important to develop the music theory required to understand how melodies and songs are constructed. I focus on using traditional tunes to exercise deeper musical ideas and technique, rather than learning song after song. I also push my students to get involved in the Boston bluegrass community, finding jams to suit their skill level.

I have been playing music since the age of four, from nationally competing string quartets to jazz combos to Balkan folk music, but devote the vast majority of my time to bluegrass banjo these days. I was a 2017 FreshGrass Banjo Award finalist and play in several folk and bluegrass bands around Boston.
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About

James delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 5+ and special needs

Teaching since:
2018

I started off with violin at the age of four, and picked up mandolin, guitar, and banjo in my teens. I focused on small ensemble playing, especially competitive string quartet. I bounced around from band to band and touched a lot of different genres. Classical gave me extremely solid technical foundations and practice methods, jazz gave me music theory, I learned rhythm from transcribing math rock guitar solos. I started playing folk music with a Klezmer band on the streets of Chicago -- my first experience making money with music. From there, I branched out into Balkan, Irish, and American folk. As I got older, my interest in the banjo became an obsession as I discovered players like Noam Pikelny, Jens Kruger, and Wes Corbett. I ultimately ended up devoting the majority of my energy to it and it has become my primary instrument.

I was a FreshGrass Banjo Award finalist in 2017, and you can find some videos of my playing on jameshanford.org.

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Experience

Banjo Player
Sep 2017 - Present
Unfinished Business

A Boston bluegrass band that plays a variety of gigs around town.

Fiddle/Banjo
Apr 2016 - Present
Savin Hillbillies

A Boston folk band that plays Irish, Bluegrass, and Country standards.

Violinist
Sep 2008 - Sep 2012
Contrapunctus String Quartet

Member of award winning competitive string quartet. First place at St. Paul String Quartet Competition, Rembrandt Chamber Players Competition, and Discover National Chamber Music Competition. Honorable Mention at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition.

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Photos & Videos

A bluegrass standard.
Off the beaten path for the banjo, but Oscar plays the greatest blues ever.

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