Mike Thomas

Mike T.

Manassas, VA

About Mike T.

Background check: Last verified 07/02/2016
Mike passed a background check on 07/02/2016 that included the following:
  • National Criminal Record Check
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Mike teaches: Ages 10 to 75
Teaching since: May 2010
Last sign in: 2 days ago


I have played bluegrass banjo since I was 16 (I am now looking at Social Security). I have been instructing for six 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

Photos and Videos

"Southern Connection" playing on stage at the world famous Station Inn, Nashville, TN.

9 Reviews on Mike T.

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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 Beetham 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!
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.
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!
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.
Mike Thomas
Mike T.

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