Eric Shi, a 2023 recipient of an Arnold Shultz Fund grant, sent an update on his progress with educational bluegrass videos created for his online banjo and guitar students in China.

“I’ve been engaged in moving for the last few months from my hometown, Wenzhou, to Dali, Yunnan, in southwest China,” Shi said. “We arrived in Dali last month and started our new life here. The old band in my hometown can’t make it to Dali, but the good news is we have a new official member for the band. His name is Wang Yifei(王逸飞) who majors in double bass. He’s also a bluegrass lover who learned to play Scruggs style banjo when he was a senior high student. Finally, I have someone to jam with! He comes to Dali from Zhengzhou, Henan, to join my bluegrass band, and we will be doing bluegrass music videos in future. He’s been here for a week, and we get together to rehearse and study music every day. We are planning to record our audio live when shooting new videos. This is our first music video together:”

Eric said he discontinued in-person lessons in 2021, but students are encouraged to buy his instructional banjo book. “Over 30 learners bought banjos from me after watching my videos, which I suppose are new bluegrass banjo lovers,” he said.

“Quite a few guitar lovers have been sending me messages to express their hopes that I can develop bluegrass courses, since I shot some bluegrass guitar videos last year,” Eric reported. “By promoting both bluegrass guitar and banjo, people start to be attracted to the bluegrass music style—not just the bluegrass instruments. Some guitar players have started learning bluegrass guitar by themselves and send me videos for advice after they see my videos.”

“One crucial plan after moving to Dali is that I will shoot a series of bluegrass videos arranged by guitar and bass with new bass player, Wang,” Shi continued. “Music videos will be divided into several types. The arrangements won’t be restricted to traditional bluegrass style, but the three-finger bluegrass style will still be the main banjo playing skill. I will keep shooting bluegrass guitar videos in my spare time. There are a huge number of guitar lovers in China. Thus, I believe a large number of bluegrass guitar lovers will emerge and the number will far exceed that of bluegrass banjo lovers.”

Here are a few samples of Eric Shi’s instructional bluegrass guitar videos (in Chinese, of course):

RETURN to the May 2023 issue of The Cornerstone.