By Taylor Boyd
Charlie Chaney parlayed his love of music and his experience into a new career launched in December – offering lessons to others in rented space.
Chaney opened ‘Charlie’s Music,’ located on Main Street in Stuart, to offer music lessons, after spending 30 years offering lessons part-time at Stafford’s Music in Martinsville.
That business closed last year, but Chaney wasn’t ready to quit.
“I enjoy teaching people who really want to learn how to play an instrument,” Chaney said, adding that his philosophy is that music should be fun.
“If it isn’t fun, it isn’t worth doing,” according to Chaney, who added that he teaches “foot tapping music that you can keep a good beat to” in genres that include country, bluegrass, and gospel.
His teaching style also differs from many other teachers. He does not teach students to read music. Instead, Chaney said he uses a graph method he created to demonstrate finger placement on the various strings, and a pattern of playing notes.
“It gets people playing faster than starting them off learning to read music,” Chaney said. “I was a little late learning to read music, so I teach my students similar to how I learned.”
Additionally, many students learn by hearing, Chaney said.
“I’d say about 95 percent of it is listening and learning by ear. If a student really wants to learn to play an instrument, most of them will be able to play,” he said, adding “most of my students want to learn to play.”
Chaney said he hails from a musical family, and added that he became interested in music when he was “a young lad.”
He started playing the banjo when he was 7-years-old, and has played for more than 59 years.
He began his musical career playing with the likes of Charlie Monroe, Bill Monroe’s brother, when he was 18 for a summer at festivals. He has also played with the Wyatt Family, Rose of Sharon, and Southern Breeze at music festivals, typically placing in competitions with them.
Chaney is a staple performer at music festivals and usually places in the top five. He won at a Galax music festival playing the banjo before COVID-19, and has won two other competitions playing the instrument.
Many of his students also place at competitions when they compete. Chaney said it makes him feel proud as it, “shows how much they’ve improved and their confidence in their abilities.”
Chaney said he considered holding a recital of his students to celebrate Charlie’s Music one-year anniversary, but decided against it due to COVID-19.
As with many businesses, the pandemic also has had other impacts, but Chaney finds novel ways to entertain himself between students.
One of his favorite pastimes is wiling away the time while picking his favorite instrument – the banjo.
“I’d be happy just teaching and playing the banjo all day, but it’s not practical for business,” he said, chuckling.
Chaney has mastered eight instruments, including the banjo, guitar, mandolin, dobro, fiddle, bass, electric bass, and the autoharp. Lessons are available in each instrument. A one-hour session is $30.
For more information or to sign up for classes, call Chaney at (276) 694-5798 or contact Denny Alley, at The Coffee Break. Alley is part of the Patrick County Music Association.