About Andrew Lawrence

As the founder of Community Guitar, my own personal history overlaps at many points with the history of this particular approach to teaching and learning. I'll focus here on my personal history as a player. For those of you who would like to know more about the history of the Community Guitar program itself, please check out the pages devoted to our History.

I began playing guitar in my teens in the mid-seventies. I never got the Rock bug and stuck pretty much with acoustic guitar styles. At that time the likes of James Taylor, Don McLean, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and others were at the top of the charts and writing tunes with interesting guitar parts and I learned a bunch of them.

My father played as well, and he had picked up a lot of the material from The Great Folk Scare of the 60’s. In my teens I also had the good fortune to find a teacher whose style and interests suited me perfectly: Stan Scott. (Stan now is best known for his work in the realm of Indian music, so it is only appropriate that to this day I consider him my first and only real musical guru.) Through those two close personal influences I got hooked on more or less traditional fingerstyle guitar: Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Reverend Gary Davis and a lot of the old country blues and ragtime put out on Kicking Mule Records and other obscure labels.

From the very start I have written songs and though all of my earliest tunes are, blessedly, long since forgotten, I have penned some songs I’m very proud of. Throughout the 90’s I performed as a singer-songwriter and produced two CD’s, "Some Windows" and "Point of Contact" which are still available through me.

In the early 90’s I entered a university music program (Towson State, MD) and learned a thing or two about classical and jazz guitar. I only did that one year of music school, but found it useful in many ways, especially in the reading and theory departments. If only they had offered a degree in ragtime tunes from obscure record labels I suspect I would have stuck it out.

Around that same time I began teaching guitar professionally through two fine acoustic music stores in the Baltimore area: Baltimore Bluegrass, Inc. (now defunct) and Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe (still going strong). My experience offering private lessons to a bunch of pretty isolated people led me to shift my focus both as a player and teacher toward songs, musical styles and guitar skills that lend themselves well to jamming with others. Appalachian Bluegrass was where I first started teaching group lessons. The rest is, as they say, history.

Since then the two areas I have enjoyed exploring most as a player are flatpicking guitar (the style of generally associated with bluegrass and traditional country music) and pre-bebop Jazz, with a subspecialty in the guitar wizardry of Django Reinhardt and his heirs in the Gypsy Jazz tradition. This particular fascination has led me to organize an annual Gypsy Jazz festival and music camp here in Northampton, MA called Django in June.

Thanks for your interest, and I wish you the best on your own musical journey.