Something about the Fretted Instruments School. I have been teaching Bluegrass Banjo, Clawhammer Banjo and Acoustic Folk Guitar in NYC since 1970. I've published many articles on Acoustic Folk Guitar and Bluegrass Banjo and have recorded numerous Banjo and Guitar sound tracks for Jim Henson's Sesame St. TV programs. I regularly contribute articles and banjo tabs to BNL (Banjo Newsletter) and have also contributed several "Teach In" articles to Sing Out! magazine. I have a BA and MA in Music Composition and work as a Music Theory instructor at New York University, NYC. Please go to the Contact page for lesson information — Jack Baker

Here's how it all began. In the late 1960’s there were two stores in Greenwich Village where people came to shop for acoustic instruments, chat about folk music, and perhaps hear an unknown folk singer practicing on a new or used instrument.

Israel Young, the unofficial “mayor” of the Village, owned The Folklore Center at 321 Sixth Avenue. Izzy, as he was known, sold guitars, banjos, basses, fiddles and mandolins and sponsored free Saturday night folk concerts. Some notable performers were Terre, Maggie and Suzzy Roche (The Roches), Bill Keith, Bob Dylan, Judy Roderick, Joni Mitchell, Tom Paxton, Emmy Lou Harris, Rory Block, John Burke, Phil Ochs, The New Lost City Ramblers, David Bromberg, Pete Seeger, Hazel Dickens, Paul Siebel, Rosalie Sorells, Suzanne Vega, and Phoebe Snow and the list goes on. Any “folkster” wanting a chance to be heard could just pop in to play for Izzy and perhaps win a spot as a warm up act on Saturday.

The Fretted Instruments Store, located next door at 319 Sixth Avenue, sold more “high end” guitars and banjos and repaired instruments. Marc Silber, the owner, had an excellent repairman named Eddie Diehl - the best “neck man” in the city and an incredible jazz guitarist. Fretted Instruments also provided guitar and banjo lessons and Marc hired me to teach "Chet Atkins Fingerstyle Guitar", Delta Blues Guitar, general Folk Guitar and Bluegrass Banjo.

In the late 1970’s, Izzy shocked the Village by moving to Stockholm Sweden to start a Folklore Center. Marc moved shortly after to Berkely, California and does extremely well there selling and repairing guitars. Marc offered me the chance to take over Fretted Instruments. I renamed it Fretted Instruments School of Folk Music to reflect my interest in teaching rather than retail sales. I taught most of the guitar and bluegrass banjo lessons, but hired extra teachers for fiddle, old timey banjo, delta blues guitar and mandolin. I shared teaching duties with artists including Happy Traum, Bill Keith, John Burke, Russ Barrenberg, Rick Schoenberg, and Stefan Grossman.

Today, after more than 20 years, the old storefront is gone and I’m still teaching guitar and banjo in Greenwich Village. Lisa Gutkin is teaching Fiddle and David Goldenberg is teaching Mandolin. I teach Fingerstyle Folk and Blues Guitar. I also teach Bluegrass, and Clawhammer banjo.

I completed my BA and MA degrees in Music Composition at New York University in New York City and began to teach there and at Long Island University in Brooklyn. My primary interest still lies in giving private Guitar and Banjo lessons. Because guitar and banjo have expanded beyond folk music into other genres, I changed the School’s name to Fretted Instruments School of Guitar and Banjo in 1998.

Click on the Music button above and you will find numerous Guitar and Bluegrass Banjo midis for your listening enjoyment. Just click on the Midi button and you will hear the midi music file. They vary from beginner to advanced levels. To hear the Midis, you may need to download a "Sweet Midi" app for your iPhones and hand held devices. Private Acoustic Folk Guitar, Bluegrass Banjo, and Clawhammer Banjo lessons from beginning to advanced, are given at the school.

On weekends, I give Bluegrass Banjo, Clawhammer Banjo and Guitar lessons in Hampton NJ, Hunterdon County. Please click on the Contact button above for lesson information.

This is a Not For Profit site and all material posted on this site is for educational purposes only. Please enjoy your visit — Jack Baker