Carolyn Cruso

Flute, guitar, hammered dulcimer
Available: Thursday and Saturday
Ages Taught: 8+
Levels Taught: Beginner to intermediate

Carolyn has been a performing multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter for twenty-five years. She’s recorded nine albums and has traveled the country and Europe with her music. She’s known as an innovative dulcimer player, pushing the boundaries of tradition while respecting its roots.
Carolyn’s philosophy on teaching and learning is to always keep an open mind. You start from where you are. You delight in the discovery of music and in the wonders of experimentation as well as the discipline of music basics. It is experiential and yet systematic. It is a give and take where the teacher learns through teaching and the student teaches through learning. Carolyn believes in a gentle yet focused approach and students consider her an excellent and patient teacher.

Steve James

Guitar, Mandolin
Available: By appointment
Levels taught: Intermediate to Advanced
Ages taught: Adults
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Steve James is a blues musician, a notable songwriter, one of the best modern bottleneck slide players, a storyteller, and a compendium of interesting facts. In the world of contemporary acoustic and roots music, he’s earned his reputation with decades of tireless international touring, a stack of solo recordings, a funny, kinetic stage presence, and an unmistakable style of playing and singing.

He’s shared his creative instrumental approach on guitar, slide guitar and mandolin with books, print lessons, DVDs and on-line tutorials for Acoustic Guitar and Homespun.

His own recordings engage with other top-notch musicians—Cindy Cashdollar, the Bad Livers, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Del Rey, and a host of others. As a sideman, both on stage and on record, he’s played with Howard Armstrong, Bo Diddley, John Hammond, Maria Muldaur, Furry Lewis, and James McMurtry. He often gets a shout-out to “get on up here” from the likes of Tommy Emmanuel, Hot Tuna, or Chip Taylor. Steve has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, Austin City Limits, NPR Morning Edition, and many other syndicated broadcasts worldwide.

Orville Johnson

Dobro, guitar, slide guitar
Available: Tuesday
Ages Taught: Adult
Levels taught: All

Orville is a nationally acclaimed player and teacher of lap-style dobro. He also teaches fingerpicking, flatpicking, and bottleneck slide styles on acoustic guitar, covering many roots music genres. He’s available for consultations on recording, arranging, singing, and music theory.

Orville was born and raised in the southern Illinois heartland. He is a singer, instrumentalist, record producer, songwriter, session player, teacher, and, above all, an instinctive and sensitive musician. As his entry in the Encyclopedia of Northwest Music (Sasquatch Press 1999) states, he has become a vital figure on the NW music scene in the 30-some years he’s lived here, appearing on over 400 CDs, movie and TV soundtracks, and hosting a roots music radio show.

Orville is known as a patient and insightful teacher of music and has taught at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, International Guitar Seminar, Port Townsend Blues Week, Euro-Blues Workshop, and many others. His teaching style is based on helping students accomplish their goals, developing an approach that fits their own ways of learning, adding technique and repertoire, and, ultimately, bringing them to a point at which they can teach themselves. Knowledge is power.

Erie Jones

Banjo, bass guitar, guitar, percussion, singing, ukulele
Available: Wednesday - Saturday
Specializes in early learners ages 4+
Levels Taught: All

Erie specializes in working with young people. Each child brings something wonderful and different to the table and Erie seeks to engage with that while challenging students musically. Musical rigor, emphasizing creativity, humor and playfulness, are a significant part of the process. From the get go, he teaches and supports creating music as well as performing it. When a student creates and (formally or informally) notates music, she gains a deeper understanding of her developing concepts and skills. One of Erie’s main goals is to foster autonomy, whereby the student becomes his or her own teacher.

Erie uses tablature, staff notation, playing by ear, observation, audio recording, singing, and more—in whatever mixture best benefits the student. Erie plans for immediate success so his students can start making a joyful noise right off the bat. There is no one “right path” but there is a great feeling of “rightness” when students learn and produce music which grows naturally from their creativity and aspirations. In addition to playing music, Erie encourages and helps his students to create and write their own musical pieces.

Erie grew up in a musical household and has been playing music since junior high school. A former Seattle school teacher, he taught music the last several years of his career there. He’s excited to now be in the middle of a second career teaching young people (and adults too) the mysteries and joys of the various fret boards.

Papa Josh

Acoustic and electric guitar
Available: Tuesday and Thursday
Ages Taught: 7+
Levels Taught: All

Papa Josh teaches guitar to beginning, intermediate and advanced players of all ages and styles. With a master’s degree in jazz performance studying with renowned virtuoso Fareed Haque, Josh has developed a thorough understanding of music theory and improvisation and amassed a wealth of experience putting these concepts into play. Josh has developed his own fun and enlightening approach to teaching beginners and helps lifelong guitarists open up to new skills, musical perspectives and approaches to playing. He encourages confidence by remaining patient, sensitive, and open to students’ individual tastes, abilities, and unique struggles.

Papa Josh is an exciting guitarist, bass player, and vocalist. A protégée of world renowned guitar virtuoso Fareed Haque, Josh began performing rock, blues, funk, and jazz at age 16. He has since performed at the 2003 Monterey Jazz Festival, 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 2012 World Loop Championships, to name a few. Since relocating to Seattle in 2013, Josh has performed with Joe Doria, Skerik, D’Vonne Lewis, Klozd Sirkut, Marmalade, Tetrabox, Six Demon Bag, and more. A well-studied instructor with a graduate degree in jazz performance from Northern Illinois University, Josh began teaching guitar while in high school and has gone on to lead master classes and ensembles and teach music theory and improvisation at high schools and universities. Josh has also worked extensively with beginner and intermediate students of all ages. His patient and playful approach imbues confidence that helps overcome any obstacle to musical development.

Dave Keenan

Bluegrass banjo, guitar, mandolin
Available: Sunday
Levels taught: All
Ages taught: All
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Dave specializes in roots music of all sorts, including bluegrass, country, western swing, old-time, fiddle tunes, and three-finger Earl Scruggs picking, among others. He also teaches rhythm and lead in all of these styles and likes to work with songwriters and people in bands that want help working out grooves, parts, and leads. Music theory, ear training and technique are also part of his focus.

Dave Keenan got his start at the age of 8 when his dad taught him to play ukulele. He soon picked up all the instruments around the house, eventually studying Scruggs-style banjo at age thirteen, and teaching at age seventeen. Dave is a busy music camp instructor, teaching guitar, mandolin, and banjo at several camps each summer. He plays in many bands in Seattle, including The Downtown Mountain Boys, The Buckaroosters, and many other roots music bands. His playing is always twangy and tasty. “Why do I teach? I was lucky enough to have good teachers and want others to have the same chance!”

Eric Madis

Acoustic, electric, and slide guitar
Available: Thursday
Ages taught: Adult
Levels taught: All

Eric specializes in acoustic and electric guitar covering both flat- and finger-picking blues, bottleneck slide in open and standard tuning, ragtime, folk, country, and Hawaiian slack key guitar. He also teaches fretboard logic, strategy, and efficiency, and helps songwriters develop guitar arrangements for their songs.
Eric feels that musicians need a mentor; someone who can answer their questions and help them to develop their playing to a performance level, whether the performance takes place on stage or simply sitting on the edge of their own bed. He loves to help others develop arrangement and improvisational abilities.

Eric began playing guitar at the age of ten and has a lifelong amazement with the instrument’s beauty and versatility. He is a prolific soloist, bandleader, and veteran session musician. He has performed with a variety of artists, including blues legend Big Walter Horton, Hawaii's Farden Family, ukulele great Bill Tapia, swing violinist Paul Anastasio and poet Nicki Grimes. Eric began teaching in 1976, privately and for National Guitar Workshop, Northwest Folklife, UW Experimental College, Dusty Strings and

Birch Pereira

Upright and electric bass, piano, guitar, and ukulele
Available: Tuesday
Levels taught: All
Ages taught: All
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Birch is a well known stand-up and electric bassist in the jazz, funk, hip hop, Americana, and rock scenes. His secondary instruments are piano (beginner to intermediate jazz/pop), guitar, and ukulele (beginner to intermediate folk/jazz), and he also teaches music theory.

Birch has built a strong reputation in the Northwest as an accomplished bass player, composer, and producer. His diverse musical background includes playing in symphony orchestras, a jazz performance degree from the University of Washington and years of gigging experience ranging from jazz to Americana, funk, hip hop, salsa, Brazilian, and Afro-pop bands. Birch starts with a focus on good technique and then explores the genres of music in which the student is interested, helping them grasp the rhythms, harmony, patterns, and feel that gives each style of music its distinct character.

Barry Pollack

Classical, fingerstyle, and steel string guitar
Available: Wednesday - Saturday
Ages taught: 10+
Levels taught: All

Barry works with beginners to help them start with best practices and with experienced players of all styles and levels who want to expand their musical horizons. He enjoys playing and teaching finger styles including blues, folk, jazz, classical, and Spanish guitar. Barry teaches traditional and modern approaches to song accompaniment, lead guitar, and how to arrange folk, pop, and jazz tunes for solo guitar playing. He’s a master at teaching music literacy—understanding how melodies, chords, improvisation, and rhythms work on the guitar. He also conducts the Dusty Strings All Guitar Orchestra and Group Guitar.

Barry has opened for or appeared with Ray Charles, Jeff Beck, Tom Petty, Bo Diddley, Heart, Mikael Baryshnikov, the Seattle Symphony, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, the Joffrey Ballet, and the Portland Opera. He is the author of Popular Guitar Music (a Prentice Hall text book), one of the first books to use extensive transcriptions of actual recorded and popular licks, riffs and rhythms to teach how to play the guitar and understand musical ideas. PDFs of the book are available for free on his website.
At every level of playing and learning there is a next step. He works with his students to find that and to guide them towards musical and guitar playing goals. Lessons are not a test of what you did the week before but an opportunity to study and play together and get direction and inspiration for the coming week.

Jason Stewart

Bluegrass banjo, guitar, and singing
Available: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings
Levels taught: All
Ages taught: 8+
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Jason is excited to share his own experience and passion for bluegrass music with new students. In his lessons, he focuses on the three-finger picking style and working towards the student’s goals for the banjo, taking time for them to become familiar and comfortable with the instrument. The right hand is really important, both for beginners and experienced players. Jason takes the approach of breaking down the mechanics and discussing proper hand positioning to make things work smoothly.

Jason has been playing the banjo since early childhood, growing up in East Tennessee. His musical experience has included performing at the Grand Ole Opry and performing and recording with Jim Lauderdale. He also was a sideman with James Monroe and the Midnight Ramblers. Currently Jason performs locally in the Pacific Northwest with the bands Prairie Flyer and Dysfunction Junction. He takes great enjoyment out of connecting with new folks and sharing all that he has learned.

Jonathan Shue

Guitar, ukulele, voice and singing
Availability: Saturday mornings and afternoons
Levels taught: All
Ages taught: 12+
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Jonathan specializes in helping students realize their singing and instrument-playing potential whether they’re a total beginner or seasoned performer. He believes everyone can sing and play an instrument and that it’s never too late to learn. It’s all about breaking things down into small, manageable steps.

Voice. Jonathan helps students connect breath and voice, re-open the vocal channel, and re-discover their own voice. He emphasizes “the whole self,” drawing upon the Alexander Technique and Kristin Linklater’s groundbreaking voice work. A seasoned professional actor, musician, and singer, Jonathan also helps prepare actors and singers for auditions by offering constructive feedback, help with selecting audition material, monologue and scene work, and real-world advice on professional marketing for performers.

Guitar and Ukulele. Jonathan breaks down students’ goals and helps them find a pathway toward achieving them. He helps students discover how their instrument works mechanically and musically and to build a repertoire of songs they feel confident performing. He also teaches how to sing and play at the same time and can help students develop their own, original songs.

Jonathan has performed in award-winning regional theatre, toured internationally, produced three albums, and either composed or arranged music for many plays and new works. For ten years, he taught music and drama as an artist-in-residence at public schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also the Education Director for Dusty Strings. Learn more about Jonathan at

Alex Sturbaum

Bodhran, bouzouki, button accordian, and Irish guitar
Available: By appointment
Levels taught: All
Ages taught: All
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Alex Sturbaum has been playing and teaching traditional Irish and trans-atlantic music for over a decade. He began his career in Cincinatti, OH, teaching with the Riley School of Irish Music and playing in various local groups.

Alex attended Oberlin College, where he founded the successful contra dance band Gallimaufly, as well as teaching a course on Irish music within the Experimental College. He has gained recognition in traditional music communities all over the country for his complex, powerful accompaniment and energetic accordion playing.

Alex now lives in Seattle, where he plays with various groups including Countercurrent and Piper Stock Hill. He is a capable multi-instrumentalist, switching with ease between guitar, bodhran, button accordion, and bouzouki.

As an educator, Alex emphasizes connection with the music, listening skills, and lift.

Stuart Williams

Fiddle, guitar, and tenor banjo
Available: Monday and Wednesday
Levels taught: All
Ages taught: All
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Stuart plays and teaches the old time fiddle music of the Greater Northwest: Missouri and Southern hoedowns, Canadian jigs and reels, Scandinavian waltzes, and more. Having studied the details of the personal and regional styles, as well as repertoire of the older masters of this art, he is eager to pass this knowledge on to you.

Stuart is eminently interested in matching his approach to your best learning style and interests. He also enjoys teaching fiddle tunes and fiddle and song accompaniment on mandolin, guitar, and tenor and clawhammer banjo. Music theory that you can understand and readily use permeate his approach to teaching, but the most important thing is to help the student develop his or her musical ear, a feel for the music, and find their personal style and way into this wonderful social and dance music.

Stuart focuses particularly on details of style and bow work that characterize the individual and regional styles, having learned first-hand from experienced dance fiddlers in rural Michigan and the Pacific Northwest since 1972. He plays throughout the Pacific Northwest for contra and square dances, including stints with Flash in the Pan in the 1970s and Pleasures of Home in the 1990s, among others.

He also has extensive experience documenting the older generation of fiddlers and presents this music through recordings and written works. Stuart has taught full time since 1993, both privately and in workshops through the Washington Old Time Fiddlers’ Association and other Northwest organizations. He was featured in the summer 2014 issue of Fiddler magazine.