Pete Wernick has created a format for teaching bluegrass, having formalized his methods of bluegrass jamming instruction and certifying teachers to offer bluegrass jam classes. The Wernick Method office in North Carolina supports the certified teachers’ classes with a smooth-running organization responsible for administration, guidance, evaluation, and a healthy measure of promotion. For this group of services, the Wernick Method generally takes 15% of a class’s total tuition income. With smaller classes, the cut is either one full tuition or 25% of income, whichever is less.
Certified teachers receive written and video training in the Wernick Method with personalized support, publicity through the popular LetsPick.org (a.k.a. DrBanjo.com) website, email, and the customized flyer and publicity materials.
While scheduling and pricing are left to the individual teachers, the Wernick Method Office handles:
More than 100 teachers nationwide, in Australia, Canada, and Europe have received Wernick Method certification. Over 900 classes have been completed, with over 10,000 students registered. Publicity for the Wernick Method is ongoing, with our active Facebook page, web ads on multiple bluegrass-related sites, and in a variety of bluegrass-related publications including Bluegrass Unlimited, Fiddler, and Banjo Newsletter. Our online class pages are viewed typically at least 150 times each, sometimes many more thanks to websites of festival class venues or social media work by the teacher. Roughly half of our students first heard of the class directly from our publicity (website, emails, ads).
As of late 2020, Wernick Method teachers have collectively earned over $1 million from their classes.
The Wernick Method is eager to certify qualified teachers. Currently there is no fee to apply for certification, or to be certified. Nor is there a charge for the training materials, and no fee is taken until the beginning of the teacher’s first class.
To qualify, a teacher should have a multi-year involvement with bluegrass music, preferably as either a performer or teacher. There is no need to be a multi-instrumentalist, but all teachers are expected to be able to play rudimentary bluegrass guitar, carry a tune vocally, be able to play passable lead breaks on an instrument, and to understand and be able to communicate the roles of the different bluegrass instruments and voices. A Wernick Method teacher must be familiar as a participant in bluegrass jamming. Group teaching experience is valuable but not required.
To learn more about certification and being a Wernick Method teacher, request our introductory folder with a hard copy of this document (how we work with teachers), the Essentials of the Wernick Method, our student prep materials, and sample flyer. To facilitate your request, use this online form.
Take special note of the document Wernick Method Essentials, which outlines the Wernick Method sequence and philosophy. Once you’ve had a chance to review all the materials, we will invite you to arrange a one-to-two-hour phone call with Pete Wernick to discuss your bluegrass experience, the Wernick Method, and to answer any questions.
You may be asked to provide a recorded sample of your playing, preferably as part of a group, to show your competence as a player who can play rhythm and lead on a bluegrass instrument, and sing reasonably in-pitch.
If Pete feels satisfied that you are qualified to try a provisionally-certified first Wernick Method class, by the end of the call he will grant provisional certification, pending the receipt by the Wernick Method Office of the signed Wernick Method Essentials document, with your signature agreeing that you will teach these skills and this philosophy whenever you are advertised as a Wernick Method teacher. This is our only required signed document.
Once the signed “Essentials” document is received, you will be mailed a “Provisional Wernick Method Teaching Certificate” to allow you to start teaching Wernick Method classes. The certification is subject to termination if a teacher allows a year to go by without offering a class, or if student comments indicate significant problems with the teaching that aren’t being properly addressed.
Upon provisional certification by Pete Wernick, teachers receive by mail (not-to-be-copied) teacher training materials:
Summarizing the benefits the Wernick Method gives teachers, certified teachers receive:
The evaluation process is a critical part of the Wernick Method system.
Two sessions into a teacher’s first class, students are invited by email to take a short survey about the class, no name required. Within days, a summary report is tabulated and sent to both the teacher and Pete, who reviews with the teacher any concerns raised from the report.
Immediately following that class and every subsequent class, students are invited to take a larger survey. Response rate is 60-90% and typically the students highly approve of the teaching. The surveys may also raise problems and suggestions which call for discussion (generally by email) with Pete.
If serious problems are indicated, a “probationary” situation may be called for, where continued certification depends on the teacher’s concern and improvement based on Pete’s mentoring. Certification is rarely revoked but is possible if the teacher is not successful at improving their performance or if Pete deems them uncooperative.
The key factor in continued certification is the student evaluations viewed as a whole.
While perfection is never expected, closely following the Wernick Method Essentials and student reports and overall satisfaction are the main determinants of continued certification.
Upon certification, a teacher is expected to start planning their first class. Typically and preferably, the class starts within 6 months of certification. (If no class is scheduled in that time by the teacher, certification may be reviewed and withdrawn.)
The teacher selects and arranges for a class venue that meets basic criteria provided. The venue needs both an adequate-for-12 main teaching room and at least one other room adequate for a second simultaneous smaller jam.
To publicize his/her class, the teacher must promptly provide the Wernick Method Office:
For examples of the content of class pages, see the pages shown on wernickmethod.org, linked from the master table on the home page.
The teacher submits a New Class form setting the tuition, class start and end dates and times, number of sessions, and venue, subject to Pete’s OK.
Recommended class session length is 2.5 – 4 hours, with 20 hours total the recommended standard. 2.5 hours works well for weeknight sessions, and 4 or more hours is possible on weekend days.
Suggested pricing is typically $10-15 per teaching hour, or roughly $25-35 per typical 2.5-hour weeknight session. So an 8-session weeknight class might cost $195- $250, as would a weekend afternoon class of five 4-hour sessions.
Some experienced teachers have tried higher pricing with good results (consistent with students giving their classes high scores on “well worth the money”).
A standard early discount is offered (optional — can be removed at teacher’s request), usually $10 off before a deadline of a month pre-class. Other discounts can be added at the teacher’s request.
(If class size is 9 or more, an assistant/coach is needed for at least the 2nd half of the first few class sessions, coached small group jam time. Please see the assistant protocols information on the FAQ page. If attendance exceeds 16, a third room and a second assistant will be needed, at least for the small-group jamming part of the first 2-3 class sessions.)
Upon receipt of the teacher page material (bio, headshot, student quotes, and as available, links to music sample and website), and with a venue chosen and dates and pricing determined, the Wernick Method Office promptly creates the class’s web page and flyer, for approval by Pete and the teacher. With that approval, the class is officially scheduled and listed on LetsPick.org to take payments and registrations, and a PDF file of the flyer is sent to the teacher for printing and distribution.
Promotion includes emails by the Wernick Method Office (at least one as part of a 5x/year email to our full list, advertising all upcoming classes with links to each class’s page; also a customized followup email for each class to our list in its region, 2-3 weeks out). Weekly classes are advertised to a circle within 70 miles of the venue. Camps (teaching on consecutive full days) and classes at festivals are advertised to a larger region, a 250-mile radius. Teachers may request customized print and web ads and radio announcements, created at no charge by the Wernick Method Office (allow 2 weeks’ lead time pre-publication deadline).
Students register through the LetsPick.org website, though if a class is offered through a music store, music camp, or other sponsoring organization, other arrangements are possible. Teachers typically collect payment balances and may also collect deposits or full payments, with all included in the accounting.
The Wernick Method Office registers students, collects deposits and promptly emails the students their class materials. In time for the first class session, the Office emails to the teacher the student roster and an accounting of deposits and registrations received.
Once the class has started and the accounting is approved by the teacher, the Office mails the teacher a check for collected deposits (less the Wernick Method fee and any other amounts owed to the Office) as well as an updated roster for printing and distributing to students. If the teacher had collected some of the prior payments, it may be the teacher who sends a check to the Office to square the owed amount.
For each class, the Wernick Method generally takes 15% of a class’s total tuition income. An exception: With smaller classes, the cut is either one full tuition or 25% of income, whichever is less. The other exception: The WM cut for overseas classes is 10%.
We will mail you a folder including student materials, Essentials of the Wernick Method, a sample class flyer, and a hard copy of the online article Wernick Method Teacher Information. Please review the materials with care, and write firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re ready to proceed with certification, or ask any questions. About two weeks after you’ve received the folder, we will follow up by email. Please let us know then whether you are interested or not, or whether you need more time to review the folder.