Lessons

September 15, 2021 -In this fiddle lesson George Jackson presents ‘Mississippi Sawyer” in three parts. The first part is the “classic” version of the tune. The second version is one that is influenced by West Virginia old-time fiddlers. The third version is a transcription of the recorded version of the tune from George’s album “Hair & Hide” (reviewed in our October 2021 issue).


September 9, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to take a simple melody—using the song “When The Saints Go Marching In” as the example—and create a mandolin solo by using chordal strums, major pentatonic scale notes, and scale runs to fill in between the melody notes.


September 2, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller shows how to build a solo on the Dobro for the song “Salty Dog Blues.” He starts with the melody and then shows several different ideas regarding how to build a solo from the basic melody.


August 26, 2021 -This week Dan Miller explains a bit of the theory behind Circle of Fifths chord progressions using the song “Salty Dog Blues” as an example.


August 19, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to play “Old Joe Clark” in the melodic style. He then demonstrates how you can mix the Scruggs, single-string, and melodic styles to create an interesting solo to “Old Joe Clark.”


August 11, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to create a single-string style banjo solo from the simple melody by using the tune “Old Joe Clark” as an example.


August 4, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to create a banjo solo from the simple melody by using the B part of “Old Joe Clark” (the A part was demonstrated in Part 1). You will learn a simple Scruggs-style arrangement, and learn some variations of that arrangement.


July 28, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller teaches you how to create a solo on the banjo from the simple melody by using the A part of the song “Old Joe Clark” as an example. You will learn a simple Scruggs-style arrangement, learn how to modify that arrangement, and learn a more complex arrangement that adds embellishments such as hammer-ons and pull-offs.


July 21, 2021 -This is a continuation of a video series about how to create a guitar solo around a melody using various techniques. In the first video Dan Miller taught the Carter style technique, tremolo, double stops, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides, and adding bass runs. In this video he demonstrates how to add the techniques of crosspicking, the toggle, and neighboring notes.


July 14, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to take a song melody and prepare a Carter style arrangement on the guitar. He first shows a basic arrangement in the open position in the key of D. He then demonstrates moving that arrangement to the key of C, with the capo on the second fret. He then shows how to embellish that basic arrangement using techniques such as tremolo, hammer-ons and pull-offs, double stops, and bass walks into melody notes.

06:21 Basic Carter Style in D

07:48 Basic Carter Style in C

13:39 Carter Style adding Embellishments

14:26 Arrangement using Tremolo

14:54 Arrangement using Double Stops

15:59 Mixing Techniques with Carter Style Strums


July 7, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller continues his series on Learning Music By Ear by finishing up showing how to find the melody to “When the Saints Go Marching In.” This is the third video in this series.


June 29, 2021 -Nearly 20 years ago Flatpicking Guitar Magazine produced an instructional video with Wyatt Rice titled “Advanced Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar,” hosted by Dan Miller. In this excerpt, Wyatt Rice demonstrates a straight-forward approach to rhythm over a G, C, and D progression. He then demonstrates how he might spice that up with various rhythm techniques. He then demonstrates, in detail, his crosspicking rhythm technique. That is followed by a segment where Wyatt demonstrates how he would use the crosspicking technique by backing up Rickie Simpkins playing “Dusty Miller” on the fiddle.


June 23, 2021 -In this video Dan Miller demonstrates how to find the melody of a song by ear. In an earlier video, he demonstrated how to find the key and the chords to the song “When the Saints Go Marching In.” In this video he demonstrates a method that you can use to help you find the melody to that song.


June 17, 2021 -In this video Brad Davis demonstrates various types of guitar capos, discusses not only the basic use of the capo, but also demonstrates how two guitar players might capo in different positions when playing together in order to provide different textures to the same tune and he also shows how to play a “Drop D” tuning in any key by using two capos on the guitar neck at the same time. You will also hear Tim May and Brad Davis play “Whiskey Before Breakfast” and Brad play “Rueben” with Tim backing him up.


June 9, 2021 -In this video lesson Dan Miller demonstrates how you can learn to use your ear to find the key and the chords to any song. Recommending that you start ear training with very simple songs, Dan demonstrates how to determine the key (from your own singing voice), and then find the chords to a song. He uses the simple song “When the Saints Go Marching In” while outlining helpful hints and guidelines for this process. The approach Dan shows here is also presented, in more detail, in his book “Learning Music By Ear for All Stringed Instruments.”


June 3, 2021 -In this video Tim May, a talented instrument builder and repairman—as well as a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter—talks about how to care for and maintain your instrument. In the video, Tim mentions “Acoustic Music Pro” and their website address. This company, and website, no longer exist. They have given Bluegrass Unlimited permission to post this video.


May 26, 2021 -This video is part of a much longer video titled “Rhythm, Timing and Groove” that was put together as a companion to a book by the same name. The book was published, but the video was never produced. Here Brad Davis talks about three interesting rhythm guitar concepts: the “Muted Strum,” the “Rake,” and the “Push” and demonstrates how you might use them.


May 18, 2021 -In this lesson Banjo Ben Clark teaches you how to play three variations of the famous “Shave and a Hair Cut” banjo ending.


May 12, 2021 -In this video lesson Mike Mitchell, from the Floyd Music School, teaches you how to play (and sing) the classic “Wildwood Flower” on the fiddle. He demonstrates a simple melody-based version and a couple of variations.


May 3, 2021 -In this video lesson David Benedict, from Mile Twelve and “Mandolin Mondays” fame, demonstrates how to put a swing feel into your mandolin playing and provides you with a few right hand exercises to help you add various accents and dynamics into your playing and gain better control over your right hand.


April 26, 2021 -Huckleberry Rag, like a lot of songs, is a big blend of many cultures. We talk about how this tune comes from the blues and uses a lot of blues like elements in the melody. Blues notes are generally lowered 3rd and 7th degrees of the scale. Here, we are in the key of D so we invite you to try out some lowered 3rds (f naturals) and 7ths (c naturals)…see how bluesy you can make it with these new notes. Sometimes, we just start a solo on one to see if we can figure out our way back to the melody! Annie Savage (violin), Blake Shaw (bass), Craig “Pappy” Klocke (guitar)


April 26, 2021 -Huckleberry Rag, like a lot of songs, is a big blend of many cultures. We talk about how this tune comes from the blues and uses a lot of blues like elements in the melody. Blues notes are generally lowered 3rd and 7th degrees of the scale. Here, we are in the key of D so we invite you to try out some lowered 3rds (f naturals) and 7ths (c naturals)…see how bluesy you can make it with these new notes. Sometimes, we just start a solo on one to see if we can figure out our way back to the melody!


April 20, 2021 – In this lesson Orrin Star teaches how to flatpick “Old Joe Clark”. This is an excerpt from an instructional video that Orrin produced for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. Unfortunately, Orrin passed away in 2017, but his excellent flatpicking instruction lives on. We hope you enjoy learning this version of “Old Joe Clark” from Orrin Star.


April 14, 2021 – This is the second of a two-part video lesson where Tim May teaches you how to develop creative solos on the mandolin. In this video he talks about using straight scale and folded scale patterns drawing from six different scales: major scale, major pentatonic scale, major blues scale, minor pentatonic scale, minor blues scale, and the mixolydian scale. He also discusses the use of dynamics, phrasing, and note articulation.

0:06​ Using Scales

1:36​ Understanding Straight and Folded Scales

2:53​ Straight Major Scale

3:54​ Major Pentatonic Scale

5:18​ Major Blues Scale

6:46​ Minor Pentatonic Scale

8:04​ Minor Blues Scale

9:44​ Mixolydian Scale

10:52​ Wrapping Up Scale Choices for Fills

11:35​ Dynamic Picking

13:21​ Phrasing

16:19​ Articulation

18:26​ Singing Your Solo

20:51​ Wrapping Up


April 8, 2021 – This is the first of a two-part video lesson where Tim May teaches you how to develop creative solos on the mandolin. He first teaches the melody to “She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain”. He will then run through a variety of techniques that you can use to embellish that melody. In this first video he will teach you how to use Tremolo, Slides, Hammer-ons, and Pull-offs, Drone Notes, Neighboring Notes, and Crosspicking. In the next video he will add more techniques to your repertoire.

1:49​ “She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain” Melody

2:27​ Tremolo

5:27​ Slides, Hammer-ons, and Pull-offs

10:39​ Drone Notes

16:17​ Neighboring Notes

19:03​ Crosspicking


March 30, 2021 – In this video lesson we are remembering our dear departed friends George Shuffler (1925-2014) and James Alan Shelton (1960-2014). You will see George and James play a few tunes and discuss the origins of the Clinch Mountain style crosspicking the guitar. James will then demonstrate the technique and show you how to use crosspicking on the tune “Rank Stranger.” This video is an excerpt from Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s instructional video “Clinch Mountain Guitar”.

1:41​ Origins of Crosspicking Discussion

4:00​ “Will You Miss Me”

4:43​ Crosspicking Pick Pattern Discussion

8:00​ “Katy Dear”

10:15​ Crosspicking Basics

13:40​ “Rank Stranger”


March 24, 2021 – Anne Luna provides you with some great ideas regarding walking bass lines show how to walk the bass line within a chord and while passing from one chord to another in a progression.


March 16, 2021 – In this lesson Andrew Collins teaches you how to learn to play faster using the tune “Daybreak in Dixie”. If you feel like you are stumbling at fast tempos, check out Andrew’s advice and technique for improving speed and learn a great classic bluegrass tune while you are at it!

Click here to download a PDF transcription of “Daybreak in Dixie” 


March 10, 2021 – Christopher Henry teaches his approach to Monroe style mandolin improvisation. He presents beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels of difficulty using the song “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” as his example. This is video 1 of 2. This video presents the instruction. The second video presents demonstrations of the tune at various tempos and practice tracks.


March 10, 2021 – This is the second part of Christopher Henry’s Monroe style mandolin improvisation video. Here Christopher demonstrates the solos to “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” at various tempos and also provides rhythm tracks so you can practice your solos. This is video 2 of 2 for this lesson.


March 2, 2021 – In this video Brad Davis will show you how to practice the “Rhythm Pick Pattern” or RPP. The exercises help you to work on right hand control and accuracy on the guitar and Brad will show you how you can utilize the technique to spice up your rhythm playing.


Feb 24, 2021 – Vocal coach Dede Wyland teaches the basics of breath support to help you improve your singing abilities.


Feb 16, 2021 – In this video the fiddle player for the award-winning bluegrass band Nothin’ Fancy, Chris Sexton, shows you very helpful details about holding your fiddle bow and bowing technique.


Feb 9, 2021 – In this video award-winning songwriter Mark “Brink” Brinkman explains how to find rhyming words when writing your songs. He teaches you how to keep the message of your song the priority, not the rhyme…and he gives you some hints on how to do that.


Feb 3, 2021 – In this video Kenny Smith from kennysmithguitar.com teaches how to play a lick on the guitar.


Jan 26, 2021 – In this video Bronwyn Keith-Hynes teaches how to play a very nice Vassar Clements lick on the fiddle. She then demonstrates how to use the lick in the song “Paddy On The Turnpike.”


Jan 19, 2021 – In this video Stephen Mougin explains and demonstrates bluegrass harmony singing using “Lonesome Road Blues” as his example tune. This informative and entertaining video will help you understand the basics of singing harmony in bluegrass music. For more information about Stephen and his guitar, vocal and band lessons, visit: www.stephenmougin.com


Jan 12, 2021 – In this video lesson from Tristan Scroggins you will learn how to read guitar chords if you are not a guitar player and want to watch a guitar player to learn the chord changes in a jam session. A very useful tool!


Jan 5, 2021 – How you go about learning a tune will determine how far you can take it and how well you actually know the melody. Tabs can be great resources for ideas but they can also keep you from seeing the bigger picture if you aren’t careful. It this video I discuss and demonstrate my method for learning a tune and point out some things to watch out for using Billy In The Lowground as the reference tune. You’ll also find some arpeggios that will help you map out the fretboard for common chords/keys.


Dec 29, 2020 – Megan Lynch Chowning provides fiddle players with some great ways to kick off, or lead into, a fiddle solo on a bluegrass song.


Dec 21, 2020 – In the first video, Casey Henry demonstrated how to play “Suns Gonna Shine In My Back Door Someday” on the 5-string banjo. She played the song up to speed and slowed it down. In this video (2 of 2) she breaks down the song into its component licks and teaches you how to play it by ear.


Dec 16, 2020 – Joe Wilson discusses how to play “Go Tell It On The Mountain” of the resonator guitar. This is video 1 of 3 in this lesson. Video 2 of 3 shows how to play the song slow. Video 3 of 3 shows how to play it faster.

Click here to download PDF of TAB | Click here to download Play-Along Track


Dec 8, 2020 – Ned Luberecki teaches how to play “Jingle Bells” on the banjo.

Dec 8, 2020 – Vocal coach Dede Wyland teaches the basics of using your body and breath to improve your singing abilities.


Dec 1, 2020 – Everything you need to improve your tone! Nate Lee teaches how to make great tone by honing your skills in your picking hand and fretting hand. Master these skills and you’ll make pro level tone, even when playing easy songs!


Nov 24, 2020 – In this video Becky Buller demonstrates how to play the well-known fiddle tune “Over the Waterfall.’ Becky plays the tune at a typical jam session tempo, then she slows it down and plays it again. Finally, she breaks the song into smaller pieces so that you can study each piece separately.


Nov 16, 2020 – Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine brings you this instructional video by bassist Anne Luna. She gives you tips for both the left and right hand that will help you improve your skill level on the upright bass.


Nov 9, 2020Ned Luberecki gives you some valuable pointers on the execution of hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides on the banjo. Even if you’ve been playing the banjo for years, you may find Ned’s tips will help you take your playing to the next level.