Mike Thomas
Manassas, VA
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Mike Thomas

Mike T.

Manassas, VA
Profile-background-check Background Check
This teacher successfully passed a thorough criminal background check with SterlingBackcheck. This badge verifies trusted teacher status.
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio
Levels taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Scruggs Style Bluegrass 5-String Banjo

About Mike T.

I have played bluegrass banjo since I was 16 (I am now looking at Social Security). I have been instructing for eight years since semi-retiring from my day job. I use various teaching methods and aids and have participated in training programs with the finest banjo players in the country, including Sonny Osborne, Bill Emerson, Tony Trischka, Ned Luberecki, Pete Wernick, Jim Mills, Bill Evans, Charlie Cushman and Alan Munde.

My banjo philosophy is that while we may aspire to play banjo like Earl Scruggs, it is not necessary to be at that level to enjoy playing bluegrass music. The organic simplicity of bluegrass songs, the repetition of components, and the strong melody lines makes entry level playing fun and rewarding and within the reach of anyone who is willing to try.

When bluegrass musicians are jamming together, using new skills, learning with and from each other, there's little chance they will give up playing music. I'd say they're hooked -- on bluegrass! More people spending less time in front of a TV, and more with each other. Wholesome fun. A bigger, thriving bluegrass community. A better world!

*** Lesson Details ***
I believe that anyone learning bluegrass should first learn the chords to favorite easy songs, and a simple way of accompanying. Playing songs smoothly in real time while using a songbook (or a fellow picker) for the words, is easy, fun, and builds a rhythmic/chordal foundation and repertoire.

Easy jamming is highly recommended and will be part of the learning program. Good sounding rhythm techniques can be added easily as they are learned. Through this process, overall technique is expanded and the music sounds more interesting. Once we have the chords and rhythm, different types of soloing can be added. The easiest method is to "fake it" by just playing simple licks and rhythm techniques while following the chord changes. The next step up might be to play an exact tabbed (a form of written banjo music) basic solo, or (better) a self-composed one featuring melody. This phase is exciting to enter, and of course it creates motivation to really improve and master those solos we all want to play. Since all students come to bluegrass banjo with their own unique skills and experience - I will design a program just for you to ensure you reach you playing goals.

*** Travel Equipment ***
Little equipment is required for bluegrass banjo other than the instrument.

*** Specialties ***
5 string Bluegrass Banjo


Write a Review
19 Reviews
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

First lesson revealed a generous and capable instructor. With out hesitation I recommend Mike.

Posted Oct 27, 2021
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Mike has done a great job teaching me. In a year and a half, I have gone from never playing a stringed instrument, to being able to jam with friends and family. I learned basic three-finger Scruggs style bluegrass banjo, and I making moves now to become an intermediate player. I really recommend Mike. He is kind and warm-hearted, and works with you to meet you where you are and improve your game. I now know about 10 songs that I can play lead on, and I can roll or vamp as back-up on any other bluegrass song. Mike has set me up now to work with intermediate techniques. Mike will help you learn!

Posted Mar 14, 2020
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

I have been taking banjo lessons with Mike for two months. The instruction has been really useful for me. I debated for a long time about whether or not to take formal lessons. I am so glad that I did. Mike is a very good musician and instructor. I am progressing and enjoying the experience. I highly recommend him as an instructor.

Posted Jan 16, 2020
Billy C.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

First lesson was great. I was nervous, but Mike put me at ease and made me feel right at home. The lesson flew by, and I can't wait until we meet again.

Posted Jan 10, 2020
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

I'm in my third year with Mike. I can't rave enough about him and his patient, excellent teaching style. This instrument is the first I've ever tried to learn, and at a late point in life. Mike has helped me make great progress. I enjoy every minute.

Posted Oct 5, 2019
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Mike was awesome. He really worked on my banjo to get it into tip top shape. Lots of adjustments were made. He really knows his stuff, even builds instruments. He explained what we would be working toward and gave me a little exercise to start on. I enjoyed my lesson with Mike. I liked Barney the Bulldog too!

Posted Jul 8, 2019
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Mike is a super musician himself, but he has met me at my true-beginning level. Mike has a way of making you feel very comfortable while imparting proper techniques and advice. He is very patient with my beginning fumbles, while challenging me to make some progress each week. I really recommend him as a teacher. In three weeks, I have three songs I am working on and four finger rolls, with advice on how to learn to be more smooth when chording. This pace was adjusted for myself, as he will adjust to your own current level. You get some funny stories too (always helps).

Posted Sep 16, 2018
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Very good at teaching technique as well as breaking songs down so they are easier to pick up.

Posted Nov 10, 2017
Chris S.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

I'm as new as they come; zero banjo experience. Mike was absolutely outstanding! In my first lesson he taught me how to tune, 3 major chords, strumming, picking, rolls, and I got my first song to practice. I highly recommend Mike!

Posted Nov 10, 2017
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Although it is but one lesson I have had with Mike, I know he has the ability to help me get to the "next level."I could not be happier with my selection of Mike as my instructor.

Posted Jun 6, 2017
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Mike incredibly skilled and patient, has a wonderful teaching manner, and is always encouraging--the perfect mix of traits for a terrific instructor.

Posted Jan 5, 2017
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Great first lesson--Mike is first-class.

Posted Oct 28, 2016
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Excellent choice for instructor. This will be fun.

Posted Jun 17, 2016
Melissa B.
Profile-location-home Student's Home

Mike was excellent! We have started with the basics and now it's time for practice! He's very patience and explains the lesson clearly. He also records what we did with our time and writes out a lesson plan on what to practice. I'm very excited to be working with Mike!

Posted Aug 28, 2015
Steve Clausson
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Mike is a fantastic teacher . He is very patient and very positive. I look forward to many more lessons with him.

Posted Jul 22, 2015
Bob F.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Mike has made my attempt to learn banjo a great and pleasant experience. I look forward to his lessons.

Posted Nov 23, 2014
Rick P.
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Mike is truly a patient, excellent teacher & communicator. He totally understands my needs and limitations, and always finds a way to address them and thereby helps me move forward. I am absolutely confident that in the very near future I will be able to play the banjo and be able to jam with others - and I attribute all of that to Mike and his approach. My only regret is that I didn't meet him 17 years ago when I first moved to the area and decided to learn to play the banjo. I wholeheartedly recommend him for anyone - he loves to play and he loves to teach.

Posted Jul 9, 2014
sheila R.

Best Banjo player!

I'm new to the banjo, having spent most of my life playing the guitar, acoustic, of course. I'd met Mike at a jam and was very impressed by his abilities. I was surprised to learn that we lived near each other, and I was in touch with him when I returned home. I started lessons with Mike and am now playing much better, due to his help. He's very patient, taking the time to show me not only how to play better, but also how to play with others in a "group" situation. I will continue to take lessons until
I'm as good as he is!

Posted Jul 11, 2013
Keith B.

I wish I had found Mike sooner!

I tried to learn banjo on my own. Bought books, instruction CDs, videos on You Tube. It just wasn't happening for me - I was about ready to give it up. Met Mike at a Bluegrass event and after just a few lessons I was really moving forward! After a few months he had me going to Bluegrass Jam Sessions. Wow is that fun!

Mike is very patient and non-judgmental. He easily accomodates my work schedule. While he is a fine banjo player himself - our lessons are always about me and how to improve my playing. I always look forward to our next lesson.

Posted Jul 10, 2013

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