Best Teaching Experience

Murphy HenryI had the best experience a banjo teacher could have yesterday.

My sixteen-year-old student Logan Claytor (he said I could use his name) was in for his lesson. Logan has been taking from me since he was twelve and lately he's really ratcheted his playing up a notch. But like many teens (and adults too) he doesn't practice as much as I would like. Of course he always has some good excuse. So lately, as soon as he sits down, I've been asking him to give me his excuses before we start, so we can get them out of the way. This week it was homecoming.

Then I asked him if he'd learned the low break to "Amazing Grace" that I had recorded last week. No, he had not. But just as I was getting ready to chew him out (not!), he said, "But I did sorta learn a high break to 'John Hardy'."

"Let's hear it," I said.

So he procedes to play this most EXCELLENT up-the-neck break to "John Hardy" which he had made up out of his own head! Now, Logan can do simple, first position improvs to almost any three chord song but he's never done any improv up the neck. So for him to make up this break was simply mind boggling. I was SO proud!

Naturally I asked him how he did. I was thinking maybe he'd worked it out lick by lick while he was practicing. But no. He said the whole break just came to him---in his head---while he was sitting in class thinking about playing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." Amazing.

I told him I was going to steal one of his licks for my own break. And I meant it! It is something I'd never thought of doing before. (Too bad we don't do tab here or I'd show it to you!!) [TOO BAD WE DON'T DO TAB? Who are you and what have you done with my mother??]

So, way to go Logan! I hope your story inspires some other pickers to go and do likewise!

Thursday I'm heading over to Nashville for the IBMA World of Bluegrass, joining Red, and Casey and Chris who are already there. I'll be at the FanFest Saturday and Sunday. If you're in the neighborhood, drop by and shake and howdy!