We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Jim Penson. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Jim below.
Jim, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today What’s something you believe that most people in your industry (or in general) disagree with?
One thing that teachers of music get wrong is making the association between musical skills and teaching skills. There’s an old saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.” I would rephrase this as “Those who can do don’t necessarily know how to teach.”
Jim, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I’ve been a life long musician and lover of wood working. This eventually led to building and repairing string acoustic instruments (luthiery), as well as performing and even teaching music. My main function is these days is acting as a sort of “court of last appeals” for people who have taken instruments to big chain music stores and have been told that they don’t do repairs on certain instruments, or repairs and restorations of vintage instruments. I have built mandolins, banjos, and guitars, mostly do repairs and restorations. I currently have a 1955 and 1956 Gibson guitars in for restoration. Working on these highly valued vintage instruments is flying without a net so many shops will turn work like this away.
I’ve been playing bluegrass music for most of my life, and have been teaching for over 30 years. I’ve played with some great musicians, and taught a few, too!
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
In my early 30’s I married and had a family. I went to work in IT and made a fairly good living until the early 2000’s when nearly all the work went to contract. It still paid well, but I wound up spending nearly as much time looking for work as I did at work. Finally, after my kids grew up and moved out, I had to sell my house and day take day work as a maintenance man. This was a blow to my pride, but it opened up the time needed to focus on music. My teaching and instrument work eventually took off and now I earn most of my living from music in some form.
Any insights you can share with us about how you built up your social media presence?
One of the best things about being in somewhat of a niche field is that it’s easy to be found on social media. I can quite honestly say that I would be able to do this were it not for the internet and social media. Inexpensive website platforms are all over the place, and produce very professional results without investing in learning coding or web design. Facebook groups are an invaluable source of referrals. Find a group with your interests, and work will come to you.
- Website: northtexasluthier.com
- Instagram: @jimpenson
- Facebook: banjoist123 or Jim Penson, bluegrass musician
- Twitter: @banjoist123
- Youtube: banjoist123