About The Instructor
Greetings, everyone. I am Austin "White Bear" Rogers, PhD. Together with my wife, I run the Rogers School of Traditional Music as Principal Instructor. My motto is: "Anyone can play old time music!" Indeed, anyone can play any type of music. My wife and I are proud Cherokee Indians, but we enjoy, and I play and teach, a wide variety of music, including old time, bluegrass, Celtic, and classical. I believe that music is truly universal; anyone can play music if they so desire.
I also believe that music should be fun. If you are not getting enjoyment or satisfaction out of your music, then something is wrong. To that end, as a music teacher I am non-judgmental and strive to make our School a pressure-free environment. I will push my students to practice and improve, but most of all I want them to be enjoying themselves.
One thing that all students and prospective students should consider is whether they want to be accomplished technicians on a particular instrument, or if they want to be well-rounded musicians, capable of transferring their skills to multiple instruments if they so desire. Both options are perfectly acceptable, but I have chosen the latter for myself and encourage my students to also choose that path. I am happy to teach to either goal, but will try to teach in such a way that the latter will happen naturally while we work on the former!
I started playing music at the age of three, growing up in the hills of North Alabama. When my grandmother bought a piano, I was immediately drawn to it. I received classical training from a peerless instructor on piano for twelve years, and found it to be both challenging and rewarding.
As I grew into a teenager, I discovered other musical interests besides classical music. My father played old records of the Kingston Trio, which inspired me to pick up guitar. Soon thereafter, I met Jim Connor, who was the banjo player for the New Kingston Trio from 1969-1973 and lived nearby at the time. He taught me the Sand Mountain style of old time banjo, which is useful for solo pieces, fiddle tunes, and vocal backup. Interestingly enough, as I started to improve on the banjo, my granny informed me that her father had also played Sand Mountain banjo nearly a century ago, and that my playing sounded just like his.
While in graduate school, I developed parallel, eclectic interests in old time fiddle, bluegrass, and Celtic music. I was fortunate to have some top-notch Alabama fiddlers among my friends, and they taught me to fiddle in the old time North Alabama style. I also explored Irish, Scottish, and English fiddle traditions. I decided that I wanted to develop a core competency in all instruments used for old time, bluegrass, and Celtic music, which led me to also learn bagpipes, mandolin, mandola, octave mandolin, bouzouki, tin whistle, bluegrass banjo, and resonator guitar (Dobro). I had some special encouragement in learning the resonator guitar; my great-uncle Wayne Heard was a fantastic Dobro player.
My wife and I now reside in Austin, TX, where I am proud to share my love of music and the unique musical traditions of the Appalachian mountains.
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