Thursday, February 29, 2024

North Main Music Student Profile

Meet Jim Smith

North Main Music's Longest-Attending Student 

Jim Smith has been taking guitar lessons at North Main Music since 2006. As the school was founded in 2001, Jim has the honor of being the school's longest-attending student. He was in his mid-50s when he began taking lessons with school director Mike McAdam. 

Yes, he had a guitar in his teens and said he knew a few "cowboy chords" but never really learned the instrument. Decades later, the Scotland native was listening to music on headphones on a flight home from Glasgow and decided he wanted to learn to play a complete song. He searched online and found North Main Music. 

"My first interaction with Mike was that he seemed like he genuinely wanted to help me learn guitar," said Jim. "He accepts people at their level, where some teachers may not. The way he has set up the school it suits a lot of people with different proficiencies."

"Mike lets the students choose the songs. He'd ask me, 'What do you want to learn next?' And if I couldn't think of anything, he'd suggest something that would challenge me. I also learned some music theory."

Highlights Over the Years

A few highlights from his 17 years of lessons include playing in a country band for two years with other students and a recital duo he performed with Mike where they exchanged leads on The Whipping Post by the Allman Brothers, which you can view in the YouTube video below.

Jim said the student concerts were a big reason he stuck around for so long as they gave him something to work toward.

"For the next few weeks, we'd go through the song until it was the way I wanted. Playing in front of an audience offers both a challenge and a reward."

North Main Music is a Community

"Apart from learning, it's a community at North Main Music," said Jim. "From recitals and group bands, people get to know each other. I have made friends there — not just Mike, but other teachers and Ryan Brooks Kelly, who plays with Jilly Martin and has become a successful musician."

"Ryan was always asking me to join him on stage during one of his concerts, but I didn't know the songs. So, Mike helped me learn a ZZ Top song in Ryan's set-list." 

Having learned the song, Jim was confident enough to play with Ryan at an open-air venue. 

"He played rhythm, and I played lead. After the show — I pulled it off — I couldn't sleep I was so excited," Jim exclaimed.

Advice to Other Students


"I would suggest taking lessons for better enjoyment, and if you can play publicly, that's something to aim for," he said. As for practice, Jim admitted, "There will be times that you are so busy that you can't get through what you learned from the prior lesson. But don't let that bother you; at some point it will click. It's worth persevering." 

A Fond Farewell to Jim

It is with both excitement and sadness that North Main Music says goodbye to Jim as he and his wife prepare to move to Newburyport. One of Jim's goals after settling in, aside from enjoying fishing, kayaking, cycling, and walking, is to play at an open mic night. 

Stay tuned...