Peghead Nation hits its stride

peghead_nation_2Online learning has become the most recent revolution in the education world. Over the past few years it is possible to obtain a college degree studying on your computer, and home school families have embraced cyber classrooms to bring expertise in more advanced subject matter to their children. Most colleges offer online courses as an option for a growing number of popular classes, with a member of the faculty grading work and answering questions.

Futurists have begun claiming that all education will eventually move online, restructuring a part of human existence that has endured for centuries in the process. Already, companies like Khan Academy offer free, online learning in math, science, humanities, economics, and the arts, and entrepreneurs of every sort see these opportunities expanding.

Music education has felt the impact as well. These days private instructors of every kind offer one-on-one sessions using video chat apps like Skype, though limitations of the software make it difficult if not impossible to play together at the same time.

Teja Gerken, Dan Gabel, and Scott NygaardLast year at this time, three friends who had worked together for some time at Acoustic Guitar magazine left the company to start their own online music education outfit, which they call Peghead Nation. Their vision was to offer students of acoustic stringed instruments in the various roots styles a place to find resources and expert instruction in a cost-effective and convenient manner.

Dan Gabel, Scott Nygaard and Teja Gerken launched their site with a bevy of noted instructors for guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, Dobro, and ukulele. Peghead Nation offers a subscription model for students, who are billed $20/month (or $200/year) for any course they may choose to follow. For a second course, the rate drops to $10/month (or $100/year), and access to all course material on the site is available for $100/month.

Bill Evans has two courses for banjo, both Sharon Gilchrist and Joe Walsh have one for mandolin, plus Brittany Haas and Chad Manning for fiddle, and Mike Witcher for resonator slide guitar. Of course coming as they do from Acoustic Guitar, there are currently more guitar courses than anything else, with Nygaard teaching flatpicking and Gerken fingerstyle along with Adrianne Serna, Orville Johnson and Stevie Coyle.

The site also offers videos on instruments and accessories, plus news and reviews of interest to student musicians. Most of these are available free of charge.

See all that is available at

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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.