Banjo player Laura Stabler completed her bluegrass jamming class October 15, becoming the 5,000th graduate of Wernick Method jam classes. Her instructor, Gilbert Nelson, who has taught the most Wernick Method classes of any of its teachers worldwide, commented, “I love helping jammers come out of the closet.”
Pete “Dr. Banjo” Wernick’s method emphasises the fun and social rewards of informal bluegrass jamming. Developed over decades of teaching, the method cultivates ear and memory skills with no music reading, as musicians play bluegrass standards at gentle speeds in small groups. The classes, held across the United States, Europe and Australia, impart jam skills as well as jam etiquette. Teaching is geared to a range of levels, from experienced pickers to novices who qualify by knowing four chords.
Wernick comments, “Our student surveys tell us overwhelmingly that the method works. We often hear words to the effect: ‘The class has changed my life, and I only wish I’d had this kind of teaching from the start.’ So we are looking to help brand new pickers and would be pickers of any age. Some people come with instruments that haven’t been played for years.”
He adds, “So many students play almost entirely by themselves and lose interest, but we know bluegrass is a team sport, so we get them together. Our teachers love seeing them having fun and encouraging each other to make breakthroughs. In our first six years we’ve had over 500 classes in over 40 states and 10 countries, and we are always looking to involve more teachers and more students.”
About the Wernick Method
Pete Wernick created the Wernick Method as an efficient way to teach bluegrass jamming. Since 2010 he has certified over 100 teachers, training them in all aspects in offering weekly jam classes in their communities, and jam camps nationwide.