A Few Minutes with Drew Emmitt

Tell us about your teaching style and why you like to teach.

I started playing the Mandolin in 1980 and cut my teeth at bluegrass festivals and jam sessions learning traditional Monroe style as well as New grass and Dawg styles. I was fortunate to be able to study early on with Tim O'Brien who gave me the foundation for my playing style.

I was then in and out of Bluegrass bands for the next ten years playing festivals such as Rockygrass, Telluride Bluegrass and Strawberry music festival before forming Leftover Salmon in 1989. We became a mainstay of the festival and touring circuit and combined Bluegrass with other styles of music like Cajun, Calypso,Zydeco, Rock,Reggae, Jazz, and swing.

Some of my biggest Mandolin influences are: David Grisman, Sam Bush, Mike Marshall, Tim O'Brien, John Paul Jones, Chris Thile, Roland White, Jesse McReynolds, Adam Steffey, Ronnie McCoury and of course Bill Monroe. This background and set of influences has shaped how and what I like to teach. I’ll be focusing on the philosophy of soloing and/or building the extended solo, and progressive rhythms or the mandolin’s role in a jam or rock band. I will cover technique and different ideas and exercises that will help with soloing and stress the importance of good timing as well as attitude and intention of the soloist. What is the purpose of a great solo? To impress? Or to move the audience in a way that evokes an emotional response?

To me teaching is a very rich and rewarding experience that is also as much about discovering my own playing as it is helping others to learn how to play.

What other things do you expect to experience at the Symposium this year?

What I am most excited about: picking with lots of different mando players and learning from everyone as well as teaching.

Drew Emmitt's Web Site