Wernick Method Instructor Jeff Burke has just commenced his sixth class at the Station Inn, a world-famous bluegrass performance venue in downtown Nashville. The classes have been very successful, often selling out. And now comes a lengthy, impressively detailed article about jamming, Jeff’s classes, and the Wernick Method, just published in the Nashville Scene. Here is an excerpt:
The bluegrass jam circle is a remarkable cultural product. Through and through, the bluegrass community is dedicated to accessibility and participation. There are few other genres where you can anticipate a large chunk of the crowd at a show being proficient in one, if not most, of the instruments onstage. It’s due both to this community and the structural simplicity of the music that bluegrass has such a vigorous jam culture. Fans have a relatively easy time meeting one another and learning enough on an instrument to be able participate in the enormously social experience of the bluegrass world.
Sadly though, many bluegrass fans wind up in what’s known as the “closet-picker” trap. The music moves them enough to learn an instrument, maybe even to seek out a teacher — but for shyness or lack of access, they never tap into the resources to learn to play with other fans. Relegating bluegrass to alone time in your living room is a tragedy on par with doing the same thing to swing dancing or Scrabble. It’s just not built for that.
Relegating bluegrass to alone time in your living room when you live in Nashville, Tenn., however, is a tragedy of proportions that exceed easy comparison. Nowhere else in the world can you find such a wealth of resources to participate in bluegrass.
Jeff Burke is a local teacher who leads group classes based on a method developed by internationally renowned bluegrass teacher Pete Wernick. He compares playing music by yourself to boxing against a punching bag: “Ultimately people always aspire to do it in person, in the moment. It’s what lights up the experience.” Burke’s jam classes bring about 15 students together to practice the fundamentals of playing in groups. Week by week students learn to play backup, signal others to take solos, and give the cue to end a song — all the connective tissue to make a jam flow that’s lost when your learning and playing stay private – Nashville Scene.
Read the full article on the Nashville Scene Website.