Noam Pikelny coming to ArtistWorks in 2020

ArtistWorks, the multi-instrument, multi-genre video learning system for online instruction, has announced that they will be bringing banjo wizard Noam Pikelny onto their faculty in the spring of this year.

From the time he hit the scene as a member of Leftover Salmon in 2002, Noam has mesmerized banjo lovers worldwide with his unique mastery of the instrument, both for playing the traditional bluegrass he grew up admiring, as well as the more envelope-pushing style he has pioneered with Chris Thile and Punch Brothers. Since Earl Scruggs made the banjo into a serious instrument in the late 1940s, very few players have reimagined it to the degree that Noam has, bringing in a new generation of students eager to learn his style.

The industry has recognized him as well. Pikelny was the initial winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2010, and has twice been named the Banjo Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. The IBMA also awarded him their Album of the Year in 2017 for his remarkable project, Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe, on which he performed note-for-note transcriptions for banjo of Kenny’s fiddle breaks from the 1976 original.

When his videos go live on ArtistWorks, they will join the more than 50,000 such available to members on the web site. He will also join Tony Trischka as a banjo teacher at ArtistWorks using the company’s patented video exchange system. Members can not only view and study the lessons created by the faculty, they can also send in response videos of their own playing for critique. Those response videos, and the teachers’ responses to those, are also available in the library for all to view. It’s a bit like a permanently archived master class online.

ArtistWorks was created by David Butler, an early lead programmer for AOL, and his wife, Patricia, when David developed an interest in learning jazz guitar in 2008. Having difficulty finding an instructor, he envisioned a system where top players and teachers all over the world could use the Internet to offer their knowledge to students wherever they might live. Now they offer just that for as little as $23/month.

The brilliance of the system is that the instructors do not need to purchase or learn to use sophisticated video equipment, and can craft their response videos wherever they may be in their busy lives of touring and recording. Both student and teacher communicate when it is convenient for them, and allowing other learners to watch as well helps everyone at the same time.

Here’s a brief video Noam created for those who may be interested in studying with him.

ArtistWorks has created a special web page where interested pickers can sign up to be notified when Noam’s lessons are available. Those who sign up in advance will also get pre-release access to sample lessons.

You can also view pricing options online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.