Andy May (tan cap & mandolin) leads the Jamming Workshop at Augusta Heritage CenterAndy working with an "Acoustic Kid" - Walnut Valley Festival ("Winfield")

Andy’s relaxed, common-sense approach to teaching is rooted in his background in developmental learning and his interest in creative problem-solving.

…His manner is easygoing and conversational. He not only shares his music with students, but also the creative process through which songs are written and instruments are mastered.

—Joan Gardner, Cultural Organization of the Arts, RI

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Andy as Educator

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For over fifty years, Andy has been a professional musician and a teacher. He has performed thousands of shows, taught many hundreds of people to play guitar or mandolin, and instructed extensively in the areas of performance and visual art. Andy has been Artist-in-Residence in elementary and junior high schools in Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York, and he has led seminars in creativity and in programming for both youth and adults at music festivals such as the Walnut Valley Festival (“Winfield”),  MerleFest, the Augusta Heritage Center and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Underlying his in-the-field teaching experience is Andy’s own education: He received the Art Chairman’s award from the High School of Music & Art in New York City, studied painting at the School of Visual Arts, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a degree in Fine Arts and Art Education. In addition to private instruction, Andy currently brings his musical performances to schools and teaches guitar, mandolin, and jamming group workshops at festivals and community venues.

Within each person there lies the possibility of positive creative expression. I create the environment and give folks access to the tools they need to explore their creative path. –Andy

Andy has developed a variety of other kinds of educational workshops through the years, as well. His Acoustic Kids workshop has been a much-loved feature at Winfield since 1990, at MerleFest since 2001, and at Guitar Town since 2016. This educational program provides youngsters with performance opportunities and instructional workshops. The workshops cover various aspects of music and professional musicianship, informing youngsters and their families about the realities of life as a professional musician, and focusing on topics such as performance skills and lifestyle. Another of Andy’s most-requested workshops is the Roots of Bluegrass. This narrated audio journey of recorded music takes the listener from the earliest commercial recordings of country music right through the development and birth of classic bluegrass, as defined by Bill Monroe, “the Father of Blue Grass Music”, and his quintessential Blue Grass Boys band of 1946.

Although he enjoys teaching students of all levels, Andy particularly loves working with beginning and intermediate-level players who are passionate about learning their instrument. He loves giving them a solid framework that will free them to keep learning and advancing even when they are not actively taking lessons, and he loves watching them “get it” as they progress.

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