The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!
7067 reviews in the archive.
Richie has been working with me since May of 2013. Wasn't sure what to expect, being I haven't had any formal musical training since my high school days. Anyway, I had sort of plateau out trying to teach myself, and was in need of that one-on-one instruction. He agreed to take me on as a student knowing my work schedule would not allow a "same day" every week routine. He is very good about answering my phone calls, and texts when it comes to scheduling, and or, questions concerning the previous lessons. His method of teaching "music theory" has clicked with me. It is simple, to the point, and sticks with me long after the lesson. Yes, he is very attentive to my inability to maintain the required tempo, or maybe that eighth note ends up being a quarter note, or that fingering is not quite right. He holds me to a high standard of performance without being overbearing. If I end up having a tough time getting something right, he usually will find a different technique, practice pattern, or choice of words to get me to that end goal of learning a particular song, or exercise. In other words, he has many techniques at his disposal to help me out. I would not hesitate in recommending him as a teacher. I have seen how he handles himself with other students, and the feedback he receives from them in regards to their performance. This in turn, validates everything I have stated previously.
As a caveat to his excellent teaching, he is also my main luthier. On two occasions, he has installed a set of 5th string spikes on my RK35, and repaired spikes on my Bishline, which were done after the lessons. He has done a setup, added two side markers on the 12th fret, and accomplished a setup on the Bishline, which took 5 days from drop off to pickup. Not too shabby.
He is to me, a one stop shop. Again, I highly recommend him.
Overall Rating: 9
I would highly recommend Richie Dotson to any aspiring banjo player, and any seasoned banjo player that is trying to expand the breadth and depth of his/her playing. Richie has a lot of experience teaching students and understand the various playing styles (Scruggs, Single String, Keith style...etc). He also teaches Clawhammer, but that is not a style I have been interested in trying.
Richie's teaching style (for me) is a combination of tabs, music listening, videos and theory. He breaks complicated pieces into parts that are easy to understand. He has a good way of pushing me to continue to grow as a player, but I don't feel pushed or rushed. Richie lumps related songs/skills together, so I can learn multiple songs at once.
Theory is a topic where I usually glaze over. But, Richie explains things in a way that I can understand them. And, when I don't... he explains it in different ways until is "clicks." He's theory is not so much that it feels like learning for learning sake... everything he teaches always feel relative and useful to the task at hand.
I know that Richie changes his teaching style to fit his students. If you are a person that can get tab, he can show the the songs in a note-for-note learning style. And, probably get your tab reading up to par as well through explanation. If theory is tough for you (like it is for me), Richie will take the time to make you comfortable and will not confuse you with tons of non-essential information. He's just a great teacher that wants he students to live us to their potential and reach their own personal goals.
When I first started learning banjo... I took lessons from a nice man who knew a little. He showed me what he knew , but at the time I did not have a wealth of teachers with the experience necessary to keep adding new skills and styles to my playing. Then I swithed to a teacher who was awesome, but the drive was 1.5 hours each way and the drive became a grind. In many cases, banjo students have a hard time finding someone who is good and close. If you live anywhere close to Richmond (or Tidewater)... Richie is both very good and very close.
I really appreciate all of the things he has done for my picking. I give him a 9 only because I don't like absolute statements.. The day I say, "Richie Dotson is the best", someone on BHO will write me saying, "No, Joe Blow is the best..." So, I choose not to get into stuff like that. But, Richie has been very good and I consider him a great teacher, luthier, and friend.
Overall Rating: 9
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