Teaching at Stetson Ridge

Sandy began teaching banjo in Manhattan in the year 2000. He has since taught well over 4000 lessons on banjo and guitar, winding up the top banjo teacher in the New York City for about a decade. During this period he also performed steadily with his NYC-based band Citigrass. Now he has left the Big Apple behind and moved with his Marin-native wife, three kids, and three cats to beautiful Kentfield.

Sandy is a good humored, patient, systematic teacher who really loves the job. He works entirely from materials of his own design, developed and refined over many years and many students. One of his real talents is to give students clear, concrete tasks and information to help them move forward comfortably with their playing. His extensive experience with teaching and music in general allows him customize everything for the student based on their interests, experience, and natural ability.

WHO WE TEACH

Beginners

Sandy specializes in getting beginners started, especially on the 5-string banjo. He has many fun pieces and exercises that will get you playing quickly. You’ll learn the basics from the very beginning and get playing right away. Sandy will answer your questions clearly and give you clear instruction every step of the way. You will even find that you get significantly better during the course of a class hour.

Players with experience

Students who have played their instrument for some time, especially self-taught musicians, often find themselves stuck, plateauing, or directionless. For these students Sandy is as much a music coach as a music teacher. He assesses the student with an experienced eye, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and gears his teaching towards filling any gaps he sees. Bring him an original piece and he’ll help you refine it with incredible skill. If a student is stuck, Sandy can strategize concrete next steps. If you’d like to  record, Sandy has the equipment and know-how to do this. Students will have access to extensive material in rock, folk and bluegrass as well as practical technical knowledge such as music theory and song structure. These and other skills will help you refine your musicianship and break through to the next level.

Musicians of all ages

Sandy teaches students of all ages: adults, teens and children.

WHAT WE TEACH

Stetson Ridge Music Studio5-String Banjo!

OK, Let’s face it. Sandy is obsessed with the banjo – and teaching it is his specialty. He brings the skills of both a performing musician and experienced teacher to his practice. Sandy may have the most extensive collection of banjos solos available anywhere. If you want to learn a famous banjo part, he probably has it, and if not he’s happy to figure it out. Sandy has made a science of the patterns used to play bluegrass banjo and can teach you to understand how the instrument works, while bringing up your speed and dexterity.  Also, nobody knows better the banjo player’s job in a band.

Guitar

Sandy has been playing guitar for 35 years. He specializes in teaching rock, folk, and bluegrass. He will figure out and teach you any guitar solo or rhythm part you want. He will find the easiest, most sensible way to play anything. Have you dreamed of playing that hot rock guitar solo like that guy on the record? It’s usually possible. Do you want to accompany yourself while you sing? We’ll figure out how to make you sound great. Sandy also happens to be an expert in bluegrass fiddle tunes for guitar and uses them extensively in his teaching, often drawing from his book, “Fill the Gaps.”

Piano, Drums and Much More

Sandy is a multi-instrumentalist. In fact he believes that the very best musical training develops “musical fluidity” – that is, the ability to pick up and play several instruments and across genres. He works with students to develop general skills like ear training, understanding of music theory, ability to play with others, etc. and applies them across instruments and genres. He is the product of his own training, and is able to pick up, play and teach a large variety of instruments. Students are welcome to try this approach or focus on one instrument/ genre. Kids tend to love the “musical fuidity” approach, as it keeps them engaged and always exploring. Sandy keeps a “smorgasborg” of instruments around and available during lessons, and kids are always welcome to take a break from their current instrument and try others. In fact many kids have discovered their true instrument this way; they come in for guitar, but try the drums and find their true affinity.

Bluegrass

Sandy founded, led, and managed the band Citigrass for three albums and over 600 shows. He is an expert in what it takes for a guitarist, banjo player or any bluegrass musician to function in a jam, a band, or just to learn to play their instrument. He can teach a room full of players to execute songs as a group, even coaching players on instruments they don’t perform. He also knows a huge range of the traditional bluegrass repertoire by heart.

Band Coaching

If you would like to in learn to play in an ensemble, form a band, or move to a higher level with musicians you already play with, Sandy can show you how to do it. Sandy used to run jams and bluegrass jam classes in New York City. He can do the same for you and your friends in folk, rock or bluegrass here.

Recording

If you are a musician interested in recording your work, Sandy has the experience and equipment for multi-track recording. Bring him those songs you’ve been working on and he’ll help you polish them up, bring them to the next level, and create professional-sounding recordings of them.

WHAT CAN YOU LEARN?

 

  • How to play with others
  • How to play in a band
  • How to play while you’re singing
  • How to sing while you’re playing
  • How to play chords
  • How to play solos
  • How to write solos
  • How to write songs
  • How to gain speed
  • How to keep good time
  • How to record your work
  • Practical music theory (very fun, very enlightening)DSC_0357