Creating and presenting music education programming brings together two of Andy’s life-long passions: music and arts education. He tailors his workshops to each venue’s needs, and he can adapt most to any age group and some to an all-ages group.

Some of his most popular workshop offerings are listed here. Please contact Andy if you are interested in hosting an Andy May workshop on these or other topics.

Instrument Workshops

Guitar 101

Grab your guitar out of the closet or from under the bed and bring it to this workshop. Andy May will demystify flat-picking and finger-picking techniques to help you improve your playing and performance and build your confidence.

Bring your guitar, your questions, and a smile!

— Andy May

Guitar 201

OK. So you’ve worked hard to get the basics down. You can play those first position chords and can handle some melody. Andy will help you take what you know to the next level.

Beginning to intermediate-level guitarists.

In Guitar 201, we will further explore flat picking & finger picking techniques for lead and accompaniment. I will help you build your confidence and introduce you to jam etiquette— skills you’ll need in order to take your playing public.

— Andy May

Mandolin 101

This workshop is for folks who are starting out on mandolin. We will cover single noting, intervals, chords, and beginning tunes.

Beginning to intermediate-level mandolinists.

Bring your mandolin, your questions, and your enthusiasm!

— Andy May


Music Performance Workshop

This interactive workshop is for those who are thinking of making music in their community: vocalists, singer/songwriters, instrumentalists, and others.

Topics include:

  • effectively delivering your art to your audience
  • preparation
  • stage fright
  • choosing material
  • working with other musicians
  • carrying a solo show
  • tuning
  • and more!

In this workshop, I share some of the tools I’ve found helpful in developing successful performances. Bring your questions!

— Andy May

Acoustic Kids

Andy May’s Acoustic Kids Showcases are festival-based non-competitive performance opportunities for young musicians, beginner through pro. A festival setting ensures an interested, supportive audience. In turn, the audience is treated to an Opry-style stream of entertainers, each performer doing one to three numbers.

Andy facilitates the on-stage dialogue in the role of emcee, mentor, and educator, putting the young performers at ease with his laid-back style and genuine interest in their accomplishments. Acoustic Kids has become a much-loved tradition at major music festivals, such as MerleFest and the Walnut Valley Festival, over the past quarter-century.

For musicians 18 and younger (and audience members of any age!)

As a young musician, I was fortunate to be made welcome by the older musicians and music lovers in my community. I started Acoustic Kids with the intention of creating a similar experience for the next generation.

— Andy May
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Jamming 101

Jamming workshop

This workshop is for folks who want to try their hand at jamming or to improve their jamming skills. 2008 IBMA award recipient Andy May leads the workshop and there are plenty of opportunities for group pickin’.

A variety of topics will be covered, including:

  • jamming common sense and etiquette
  • nervousness
  • judging the jam
  • practice techniques
  • face-saving performance tips

Beginning/intermediate; this is a multi-instrument/vocal workshop.

Bring your instruments and be ready to have some fun!

— Andy May


Songwriting and the Creative Process

Andy May Songwriting Workshop, Walnut Valley Festival, 2013

Andy May’s songs have been included on Juno- and Apollo Award-nominated projects and used on network TV documentaries and by organizations like the United Way. In this hands-on workshop, participants are encouraged to bring in and share examples of their songwriting and to bring their instruments and their questions.

Topics covered include:

  • lyric- and music-writing tips
  • getting organized
  • writing for projects
  • co-writing
  • demos
  • performance
  • copyrights
  • and more!

This class is for anyone interested in songwriting whether they play an instrument or not.

— Andy May


The Roots of Bluegrass Music – Music appreciation and history

Andy May

Bluegrass is one of the truly American musical styles, incorporating a wealth of influences from many musical traditions. In this presentation, Andy May narrates an audio journey through the archives of early recordings of American country music. He discusses the impact of technological advances on American music and traces the development and birth of bluegrass, providing recorded examples of the musical influences that Bill Monroe, “the father of bluegrass music,” brought together to create the style.

In The Roots of Bluegrass, I discuss how the development of audio recording and radio — technologies we take for granted today — impacted people’s lives and affected the development of American country music.

— Andy May

Appalachian Connections

A bit of pre-show warm-up on John Henry.

In the early 1960s, musicians from the Appalachians changed the face of American music forever. With their recordings and touring, Clarence Ashley, Doc Watson, Clint Howard, Fred Price, and others brought the music of this region to a larger audience and inspired musicians from across the nation to embrace old-time music. Andy is one of the musicians they inspired. In this workshop he revisits both the music and the era and illustrates the narrative with his own renditions of some classic traditional Appalachian tunes.

In this workshop/performance, I go back in time and revisit the Appalachian music that set me on fire, playing songs I learned as a kid from the seminal recordings and the live shows of these artists. I share the historical context that allowed the music to take root outside its home region.

— Andy May

School Programs

Solo Shows

Andy May - MerleFest Community Outreach - School show

In a program tailored to the school’s needs and the age of the audience, Andy May performs and discusses his original music, and the musical traditions that underpin it. He also shares the creative process—and a bit about what it’s really like to make a living making music.

I particularly enjoy presenting shows to schools and other groups of children because it allows me to combine my training as an art educator with my experience as a professional musician.

– Andy May

The Bluegrass Show, with Andy May and the Bluegrass Band

Andy May & the Bluegrass Band at Mount Pleasant, TN, Middle School for the Visual and Performing Arts

Andy May appears with some of Nashville’s finest bluegrass musicians to bring a fun and musically enriching show to Tennessee schools.

This program offers students and teachers the opportunity to join Andy in exploring the songs, instruments and history of this wonderful style of American music that was born in Tennessee. In the context of a show rich in vocal harmonies and instrumental wizardry, Andy provides an underlying theme of encouragement that supports youngsters in making positive creative choices in their lives.

Guitar and mandolin have been my friends since I was very young, and in The Bluegrass Show I share my excitement about playing music. I talk about how to learn to play an instrument—about practice, and determination—and about how that becomes mastery. I also cover band dynamics, and how people use their social, as well as musical, skills in a band.

— Andy May
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