Teaching Roster

Banjocats – Michael and Jennifer McLain

Contact Name: Michael McLain


PO Box 156
White Bluff, Tennessee 37187
United States

Email: Click to email

Phone: (615) 496-1996

The Banjocats https://www.banjocats.com/teaching-artists

Celebrating the cultural heritage of Tennessee, Michael and Jennifer McLain use bluegrass music as a way to teach how Tennessee has been important in the commercialization of popular music from the Carter Family in Bristol to the Grand Ole Opry and WSM in Nashville, to the Rockabilly of the early Sun Records artists such as Johnny Cash. Blues, gospel and string band music are included. The Banjocats have performed in 27 states and appeared on NPR, NPT, WSM, RFD and PBS. Michael directed the Bluegrass Ensemble at Belmont University for 13 years and Jennifer holds a Masters of Education degree.

Contact the Banjocats at info@banjocats.com

Sample Programs Offered

Program Title: Program Types

Program Type: Arts Curriculum, Arts Integration, Arts Appreciation

Program Description:

  • Field Trips
  • Touring Performances
  • In-school Residencies
  • One-time Workshops
  • After-school Residencies
  • Residencies for Community Organizations
  • Professional Development

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

Program Title: The Story of Molly and Tenbrooks: Illustrated with Banjo Music

Program Type: Arts Curriculum, Arts Appreciation

Program Description:

Through the story of the horse race between Molly and Tenbrooks students will explore traditional southern culture and music. The story is illustrated on banjo using iconic American tunes including: Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Whoa Mule, Bugle Call Rag and Bill Monroe’s classic, Molly and Tenbrooks. The story culminates with the running of the race illustrated on two banjos. Also included are some well known bluegrass songs such as the Tennessee state song, Rocky Top.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

Program Title: The 5-String Banjo in Bluegrass Music

Program Type: Arts Curriculum, Arts Appreciation

Program Description:

An informative demonstration about the role of the banjo in bluegrass music. Scruggs roll, melodic and single string styles will be discussed using traditional tunes such as Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Soldier’s Joy and Blackberry Blossom. Specific soloing, back up and rhythm techniques will be discussed using a variety of traditional and contemporary bluegrass songs and instrumentals. Other topics include: tuning, range, articulations and unique characteristics of the instrument.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

Program Title: Improvisation in Bluegrass Music

Program Type: Arts Curriculum, Arts Appreciation

Program Description:

The relaxed nature of bluegrass and American folk music provides a great introduction to improvisation. An overview of three primary techniques will be used 1) Melodic Paraphrase – using elements of pitch, rhythm and contour, 2) Formula – connecting licks from a known vocabulary, and 3) Motivic Development – developing musical ideas. Students will learn several bluegrass songs such as Bill Monroe’s Blue Moon of Kentucky as these techniques are combined. Other topics include continuity, essential melodic elements. melodic rhythm and embellishment patterns.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

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