Mike Thomas

Mike T.

Manassas, VA
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100% Satisfaction Guarantee

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

Try the first lesson and if you’re not satisfied we'll refund any unused lessons.
100% Satisfaction Guarantee

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

Try the first lesson and if you’re not satisfied we'll refund any unused lessons.

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

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  • Teaching since 2010
  • Teaches Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Teaches students 16 to 75

Reviews (17)

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Lorie Jan 16, 2020
Banjo · In 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.

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Billy C. Jan 10, 2020
Banjo · In 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.

Rita Oct 5, 2019
Banjo · In 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.

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Sue Jul 8, 2019
Banjo · In 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!

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Reed Sep 16, 2018
Banjo · In 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).

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Christine Nov 10, 2017
Banjo · In studio

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

Chris S. Nov 10, 2017
Banjo · In 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!

Jay Jun 6, 2017
Banjo · In 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.

Rita Jan 5, 2017
Banjo · In studio

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

Chris Oct 28, 2016
Banjo · In studio

Great first lesson--Mike is first-class.

Mike Jun 17, 2016
Banjo · In studio

Excellent choice for instructor. This will be fun.

Melissa B. Aug 28, 2015
Banjo · In 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!

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Steve Clausson Jul 22, 2015
Banjo · In studio

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

Bob F. Nov 23, 2014
Banjo · In studio

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

Rick P. Jul 9, 2014
Banjo · In 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.

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sheila R. Jul 11, 2013
Banjo ·

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!

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Keith B. Jul 10, 2013
Banjo ·

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.

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