Banjo Instructor

Haymarket Location

Mike took up banjo as a teenager in the 1960’s closely studying Earl Scruggs records. While completing B.S and MS degrees he played in local bluegrass bands in the upstate New York area and later in the Air Force playing multiple instruments in country western bands in the local Omaha area. Mike maintained an avid interest in bluegrass and playing informally during his 35 year business career in Government contracting services. Since selling his last business, Mike admits to a total immersion into playing and teaching bluegrass banjo. In addition to his private students, he has sought out and studied with the finest banjo players in the country, including Sonny Osborne, Bill Emerson, Tony Trischka, Ned Luberecki, Pete Wernick, Jim Mills, Bill Evans, Charlie Cushman, Alan Munde, and Bill Keith. Mike is also a luthier and makes custom banjos and mandolins and performs banjo repairs and setups.

When it comes to learning to play the banjo, Mike says, “While we may aspire to play banjo like Earl Scruggs, it is not necessary to be at that level to enjoy playing bluegrass music. The organic simplicity of bluegrass songs, the repetition of components, and the strong melody lines makes entry level playing fun and rewarding and within the reach of anyone who is willing to try. Playing bluegrass with others is terrific fun and very rewarding. Banjo is the key bluegrass instrument. When folks are jamming together, using new skills, learning from each other, spending less time in front of a TV, enjoying wholesome fun and creating a thriving bluegrass community – it can only result in a better world!”

Mike Thomas 2