“Kenny Jackson is one of the best! He is able to break down knowledge of his craft for the beginner to understand, and can teach at any level. I am a beginning fiddle player, and while I am in awe of his musical skill, I still find him to be an encouraging, clear, and excellent teacher. ”
— Sue West
The fiddle music that I teach is deeply rooted in American traditional music, especially from the Appalachian South – the kind of music that was commonly played by country folks long before more modern styles like bluegrass, western swing, and country-western were popularized via mass media, and before contest-style fiddling (like at the famous Weiser, Idaho contest and other events) developed. It’s a beautiful, diverse, and deep kind of music that I’ve loved, played, and taught for decades. I love lots of kinds of music including all the above, but this is where my roots are strongest.
I also teach old-time banjo (clawhammer and fingerpicking styles), rhythm guitar and basic flatpicking, and old-time mandolin.
You can take lessons with me either online via Skype or in person at my home in beautiful Chatham County, NC. I have taught many students online since 2007, and it is a great alternative if you aren’t within commuting distance, are short on time, or if you just prefer to take your lessons in the comfort of your own home. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have before you book any lessons. Life is short, there’s a lot of music to be made, and there’s no time like the present to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is your approach to teaching?
I believe that traditional music is best learned by ear and by heart, with written music used only as a memory aid if used at all, and for learning nothing beats a relationship with a good teacher.
If you’re a complete beginner or have had just a little experience, I will help you to develop a good foundation with your instrument. You’ll learn simple, authentic versions of traditional tunes. We will work a lot on bringing out the rhythms and phrasing of the music in a way that makes your fiddling sound like the real deal. You’ll learn to play in standard violin tuning as well as traditional alternative tunings that lend the music unique character. I will help you to build your skills and understanding of the music so that you can begin to do what is the most fun part — playing music with other people.
For more experienced old-time fiddlers, we can work on expanding your repertoire, honing your technique, learning to play more challenging tunes, and exploring nuances that come with intensive playing and listening. If you're an experienced player in another musical genre, I'll help you learn to shift into "old-time gear", learning what's distinctive about the music, and how to achieve an authentic sound.
What ages do you teach?
Practically all ages! You’re never too old to learn, and I’m willing to take as students children as young as 8, provided they are motivated and well-behaved. However, for students 12 and under, I prefer for a parent or other responsible adult to accompany them for the lesson (contact me and we’ll discuss it).
Should I have any classical training in order to learn how to fiddle?
Classically trained violinists and traditional fiddlers, while using basically the same instrument, play very different music, with very different aesthetics and techniques. Although there are certainly some valuable transferable skills to be gained from classical training, it isn’t necessary for old-time fiddling. Over the generations, there have been many good, and indeed great, traditional fiddlers who had no “proper” violin training whatsoever, having learned in a purely oral/aural tradition. And so I’m happy to work with folks who have had no formal musical training, as well as those looking to make the leap from classical violining to traditional fiddling.
How long do lessons last, and how often should I take them?
For a dedicated student, weekly lessons really help to maintain a sense of continuity and progress. Many students find that in a 30-minute lesson they can get enough material to carry them through until the next lesson, especially when taken weekly. That said, 60-minute lessons can offer an opportunity to go into the material in greater depth, and offer more time for questions to be answered, etc.
It’s also possible to do biweekly, occasional, or even one-off lessons, depending on your needs. Just let me know what those needs are, and we can work out the best schedule for you.
What do I need if I want to take online lessons via Skype?
You’ll need a reliable high-speed internet connection, a webcam, and a Skype account with the software downloaded and installed on your computer or mobile device.
Can I record lessons or portions of lessons?
Yes! In fact I highly recommend it, because it will enable you to get a lot more out of your lessons. You should of course have some means of recording sound/video. Many find that their smartphones work well, for both in-person and online lessons. For recording Skype calls, I recommend Call Recorder for Skype, which is available for both Mac OS and Windows. During an online lesson, I can also make a recording to send you if you'd prefer.
Please note that any recordings that you make or that I provide you are for your study use only, and are not to be shared - especially online!
What are your rates?
Singly-booked 30-minute lesson $30
Package of four 30-minute lessons (equals $25/lesson) $100
Singly-booked 60-minute lesson $60
Package of four 60-minute lessons (equals $45/lesson) $180
How do I pay and what forms of payment do you accept?
Once you've contacted me and we've arranged lesson date/time(s), I'll send you an invoice by email. The invoice will include a secure link which will allow you to pay using your credit or debit card, or by bank draft. If you prefer another payment method, we can talk.
Full payment for singly-booked lessons is due by the time of the lesson. Full payment for lesson series is due when booked.
Refund policy Prepayment for a lesson series is 50% refundable if cancellation is made before the second lesson. After the second lesson, no refund will be made.
What if I have to miss a lesson?
If you need to miss a scheduled lesson due to illness, unexpected family, school, or work circumstances, etc., just let me know and we’ll reschedule for the earliest convenient and available date. You also may "bank" your paid-for lessons for scheduling at a later time if, due to unavoidable circumstances, you must delay taking them. We can almost always work something out.
How can I book a lesson with you?
You can use this website’s contact page to get in touch with me. I’ll reply with my regular email address and phone number so that we can continue to communicate through those channels. You can also contact me via my Facebook page.