Dwight Diller: Clawhammer Banjo Instructor

”There is something extremely important about what Dwight strives to teach, which many students can’t or don’t want to see.  We live in a culture that is fixated on the foreground (notes, technique, tunes, etc.), and yet Dwight struggles to reveal the background (silence, rhythm, cultural context, etc.).  This background is the source of the power and drama of the music.  It gives life and makes the music breathe.  It provokes rather than distracts, confronts rather than pacifies.  This is why the old music can be offensive.  It doesn’t sit nicely within or beside our contemporary culture.  Most people only teach the foreground and most people only ever “get” the foreground, because it is the easiest part of music to acquire.  It is easy to point to; it’s tangible, but it is also superficial.  The foreground is important only to the degree that it points to the background, to make the background leap out.  This is what it means to for the music to “get” you–to be seized by the power of the old music.  What Dwight seeks to teach isn’t mere metaphor; it isn’t just talk.  It is precisely what is deepest, most poignant, and most real about the music.” Dr. Bradley Park

About Dwight: Dwight Diller has been teaching banjo and fiddle or almost four decades. He plays and teaches the music he grew up with and is considered one of the pre-eminent West Virginia musicians of his generation. More

Interested in learning to play the Banjo or Fiddle?

Dwight has been teaching “African down stroke” [ thumpin, frailin, rappin, clawhammer] banjo style since 1971, and offers students banjo and fiddle retreats throughout the year.  These retreats are a wonderful way to learn about the music and the culture the context in a quiet setting in the high Allegheny mountains of West Virginia. You can find links to more information about these retreats here on this website

Dwight’s itinerary

Dwight travels to and performs at a few local festivals, and also teaches several classes per year at Brown’s Creek. Check his itinerary for more information.


Subscribe to Dwight’s email list to receive news and commentary also posted on the “Newsletter” page of this web site.  To subscribe, click the Follow button at the lower-right corner to get started.



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