Finding Your Niche in This World | Hall of Fame 4-String Jazz Banjoist Cynthia Sayer Shares How She Found Her Calling

Show Notes

Are you still looking to find your niche in this world? The Hall of Fame 4-string jazz banjoist Cynthia Sayer shares with us how she found her calling. Cynthia is now regarded worldwide as one of the top 4-string jazz banjoists in the world. Throughout her career, she has played at The White House, the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall

Website –

  1. Cynthia, you are regarded as one of the top 4-string jazz banjoists in the world today. You’ve performed at the White House, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and tour internationally.  Before all that, my understanding is that you took up the banjo at the age of thirteen years old…can you tell us about this story?
  2. Cynthia, you were born in Waltham, Massachusetts, you spent your early years in Wayland, Massachusetts and you spent the remainder of your growing up years in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. How did your childhood impact the music that you are now creating today?
  3. You are known as a jazz banjoist, yet I don’t think that the average person associates jazz and the banjo as going together. Can you educate us about the relationship jazz and the banjo have together?
  4. Why are you so passionate about this instrument?
  5. Cynthia, how many hours per day did you practice in your teen years?
  6. When did it first occur to you that you were going to play the banjo as a career?
  7. Share with the listeners about playing an instrument that was (and is still) not generally accepted as a true jazz instrument.    
  8. Cynthia, what was it like to be a woman instrumentalist in jazz, a mostly-male field?
  9. Have things changed today, both for women in jazz, and for banjoists in jazz?
  10. When you are really jamming out what is going through your mind, describe what it’s like to really be in the zone for you?
  11. Cynthia, you earn your income and provide for yourself as a professional musician. What advice would you have for all of our listeners out there who are wanting to become full-time musicians?
    1. Get some actual playing experience
      1. Cynthia called up the local nursing home and volunteer to play as much as possible
    2. Get a professional photograph of yourself
    3. Create a well written description of your music
    4. Record some music either at a studio or at home
  12. Cynthia, if you would allow us, the Thrive Nation and I would like to know about your personal life and your daily schedule…On a daily basis, how do you spend the first 4 hours of each day?
    1. Check email
    2. Business tasks
    3. Teaching or consulting
    4. Exercise
    5. Working on projects
  13. Are you working on any big projects this year?
  14. Cynthia, thus far in your career you’ve achieved great success both as a performer, and as an educator. What are your goals for the future?
  15. For the listeners out there who want to learn more about you, what is the preferred website that you would direct all of our listeners to?
  16. Cynthia, our listeners are very action-oriented. What is a book that you would recommend to all of our listeners out there?

Learn more about Cynthia and see her tour schedule and discography at

Also check out the playing experience You’re In The Band


Book recommendations:

  • Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazz Women


  • That Half-Barbaric Twang: THE BANJO IN AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE (Music in American Life)


Business Coach | Ask Clay & Z Anything

Audio Transcription

Welcome back to the time show on your radio and podcast download. On today’s show. We are you. You are in for a treat because we have on the show today with us, a hall of fame inductee in the world of the Banjo Instrument. Now, uh, uh, Cynthia Sayer and all in all due fairness, I want to make sure will get this other. I know that you are a nationally renowned Banjo artists and I know that my favorite comedian, Steve Martin is big into the Banjo and that’s about all I have all I know about the Banjo. Previous to diving into about four hours of research before interviewing you. So my question number one for you, as you started playing the Banjo at age 13, can you tell us that story? What, what, what made you, uh, what, what got you interested in the Banjo?

Well, you know, I come from the land of Banjos, New Jersey. Just kidding. I come from New Jersey, but I didn’t know anything about Banjos and I played a bunch of instruments, hobby, you know, as a kid, I had a guitar. I play piano, I love piano. Uh, I saw a school dance band and I thought, oh, I want to play drums. So I told my parents I wanted to play the drums and they said no way and we had kind of polite about it and one day I came home from school and there was this banjo lying on my bed and I took one look at it and I knew it was a bribe and I would never get my drums. I hardly knew what it was. I had a vague association of bluegrass music, like, you know, I, I never heard any of that kind of music.

I never heard anything about banjos. And uh, it ended up that my parents saw, answered an ad in our local paper for a Banjo teacher and we’re just hoping to distract me. And I went to this teacher and unbeknownst to me, she was an unusual of a very, very rare. She was a woman, professional jazz band. Louis and I had no idea at the time how unusual that was, but I did know that I never saw any grownup women doing things like this and I was enamored of her and she became kind of a mentor and gave me some lessons and introduced me to jazz.

How have you been playing the Banjo in becoming more and more skilled at this forest stringed instrument? Uh, my understanding, and correct me if I’m wrong, and you’ve actually performed now at the White House to Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall. I mean, is this accurate? I mean, you’re silly. You performed at of the biggest venues in the world.

I, I’ve, I’ve actually, I perform worldwide. In fact, I’m, I’ll be touring to China this fall and then before that will be in Sun Valley, Idaho example of extremely different places in the world that I, I’ve, I’ve toured regularly on four continents and, and I’m very careful to balance my home life and my tour schedule and I feel like I have the best job on the planet. I’ve spread joy and good music and I love what I do and, but yes, I’ve had the privilege of working in a numerous. I’m very, you know, a prestigious venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and on these places.

So to be in the White House. Were you worried about spilling on the rug where you’re working?

The matter of fact, I do have a little story about that too because I was completely excited about playing at the White House and I was crushed to learn that because it was a beautiful day. They decided to set us up outdoors on the lawn and I was not happy about that because I wanted to go inside anyway. It was what it was. Of course I had no say in the matter and I had to change into um, uh, you know, to change into my performance outfit and I thought, ah Ha, that’s my chance. They had set up these kinds of lean to changing boots, which was not okay with me. So I went and spoke to some secret service guys and said, hey, can I need somewhere indoors that’s appropriate, you know, where I can change. And so they let me in the White House. It was a whole big regular role. They were not too happy about it, but I got into the White House and I was led into a very ordinary looking hall in room and bathroom. And I didn’t get to see some really cool things. We actually, they did give us a tour afterwards, the band I was with them and uh, and so we did get to enjoy that. But uh, but we were outside.

I want you to notice as I prepare to interview people like yourself are one of the things I try to do and it’s probably weird and creepy because I try to like, listen to as much music or if you’re an author, I try to read your book and really get to know that the, the tapestry, the, the, the fabric of your career and you, you actually are a vocalist as well as a Banjo player. So I’m not hitting on you, but you have a beautiful voice and you’re great, you’re great with your, your instrument. But I think what I was looking you up, and I’m, maybe I’m, maybe I’m ignorant, but I didn’t associate jazz and the Banjo as fitting together Sandy, kind of a symbiotic kind of way. I didn’t think like, oh, jazz, Banjo, those fit together. Could you educate us about that relationship?

No. Happy to do that. And

as a matter of fact, that’s sort of one of my missions when I’m out there because, you know, when people think of Banjo, they mostly think of five string banjo and uh, that’s the kind of instrument that plays bluegrass and folk music, country music and all of that. And that’s the regular. And that’s of course with Steve Martin plays, you know, who you are familiar with and um, and Bela Fleck, many people are familiar with a uh, uh, but I’m the kind of Banjo that I play. It’s has four strings. It has a completely different tuning, a completely different playing approach. And really they’re both called Banjos and they both looked similar sort of on the surface, but other than that, they are pretty different instruments. And uh, this is the original fretted instrument of jazz. And so all the music from the prohibition area and the roaring twenties up through the mid 19 thirties whenever you heard jazz, when you heard when there was a fretted instrument there, it was a banjo.

And, and then in the mid 19 thirties, the guitar came in and then that took over. That became the instrument of choice. But before that it was banjo. So Banjo actually is a very long, a real history in jazz, which, uh, for, I have my theories as to why that is overlooked. But which we can talk about maybe, I don’t know. But, um, you know, uh, the, the Banjo has kind of a troubled history. Uh, it was brought up. The idea of the Banjo came from African slaves. Men, women brought over as slaves and it was, it’s an indigenous instrument that was invented here in the United States, but it had this wave association and American became familiar with this instrument by minstrel shows. And there was this whole kind of low brow derogatory, a connection to the band Joe. And uh, this is just my theory, but when jazz was invented in the 19 twenties in the early 19 twenties, Banjo, if, you know, if you look at jazz books, you read about musicians on all different kinds of instruments, but the Banjo was kind of left out just like women were left out.

And I believe that it is because of the sensibility of the time, uh, has to be a guy thing and banjo was not so cool. So, um, it really fell away from public consciousness. And this is just my theory. I don’t have proof, but it makes sense, you know, in, in my mind, one of the things about your career that I think is spectacular is that you have practiced this instrument to the point of near masculine. And our show is by and large a business show. But the Banjo for you is your business, and so a lot of our listeners out there, let’s say they’re there, they have a print shop or they’re an insurance agent, or there are a Roofer or they’re a dentist. The truly best of every, you know this because you’ve coached a lot of doctors, dentists, lawyers, uh, Cynthia Sayer, Eric actually coaches, one of the top lawyers in America works with him.

This guy represents like Joel osteen and td jakes and some of the top attorneys. And so he’s a master of his craft and you are a master of your craft. So I just would like to ask you, because we’ve asked a lot of our top entrepreneurs the same question, how many hours per day did you practice during your teen years? And how many hours would you estimate you’ve practiced the instrument? I know you’re not. I know you would never call yourself a master. Even though you’re in the hall of fame, you’re still going to say you can always get better. I know how many hours

there’s room to grow and anytime I meet someone who thinks they have at all, I don’t pay any attention to them grow, but, um, I can answer that question. Um, but there’s a twofold answer to it. When I was a teenager, um, this was one of my hobbies. I had no intention of becoming a musician. I had other ideas in mind. In fact, I just assumed I would become an attorney, uh, at least get a law degree and use that for some kind of a business direction. A, I probably practiced about an hour a day. Uh, you know, sometimes I put a little more time in piano. I’m Banjo was for fun. Piano was for serious music for me. But what I didn’t know as a team, which does relate to the agenda of your show, is that the music is half of being a musician. And I didn’t know this when I first started to become a musician either, but it’s in order to have a good career, you need to know your business.

And um, this relates to, um, you know, the, the way that I invest my time today and that I have as a full time musician who has been supporting myself for many years this way, and knock on wood, I’ve done pretty well. It’s, it’s about business. You can be a fabulous musician and if you don’t learn how to do the business side of it, sometimes you know, sometimes someone will take you by the hand, but that’s happens pretty rarely most of the time it’s up to you. And then we know people that are not so great maybe at their skills, but they are awesome business people. They can, they can sometimes get out there too. So the business is important. That’s when you hear that term, the starving artist, right? The well, yeah. You know, when I first, when I would tell people I, I work as a musician or you know, I’m a jazz banjo player.

First they would kind of not know what to say because they never heard of such a thing. And second of all, they would look at me with pity. What’s really offended me? And I’m like, well, actually I think I’ve got a pretty great life doing something I love. Uh, I don’t get that too much anymore or I, I’m trying to think if I get that at all anymore. I don’t think so because now I’m more well established, I guess. I don’t know. But um, yeah, the starving artist thing, it is very, very difficult. This is a difficult field. I’m not going to pretend is, it’s not a, but I do think that a business management, your marketing skills, your, you know, how you, uh, how you pitch yourself, how you develop your career, all of these are important components to have a good career. And I think it relates to anything. It doesn’t choose selling anything, you know, I think that’s, I think that goes for any career.

When did it occur to you that you would do this full time? Like where did you have that epiphany? That, okay, this is going to be my career?

Well, what? My epiphany was sort of two fold. I was about to go to take my sats and I felt like I was heading to the team and I thought, you know what, I’m going to be work for myself. I want to do all these things before I have to be a real grown up and get involved in all these grownup of things and responsibilities. And the only thing I could figure out where I could actually support myself was by playing gigs because, uh, at that time, uh, I don’t know, I would get offered gigs. I, I knew how to pitch myself and I was good at getting, playing experience and so on. And, and so, uh, I just thought, you know, I’m not ready for this. I’m going to have fun first. And then several years later I had to give myself permission to say, you know what? It’s okay to do something you love and do it. This is what you want to do. And I would say that that really didn’t become a hard reality until I was 25 or 26. And so, uh, and all that time I just assumed that I would go back to school and that I would continue in some other direction. And all that time I thought it was temporary or wondered if it was temporary

Sydney, you chose a, a, an, an instrument that is generally not accepted as like the top, you’re not going to go into the top 40 today on billboard and find the show on the top 40. And I think a lot of our listeners out there can identify with that. They’re entrepreneurs and they say, Gosh, I’ve chosen a niche that very few people do. In fact, I met a guy years ago, true story. He’s a personal trainer, a chop. And I asked him, I said, hey, how many clients do you have? And the guy says, 10. I said, 10 clients. He goes, yeah, this is the guy in midtown, tall, nice area. And he goes, yeah, I charge every family, you know, a dollars a month. And then I work with them one on one. Uh, I go to their home doctors, dentists, lawyers, and I bring in 10,000 a month, you know.

And I have 10 clients and I, I, if I lose a client, I gain a client, become a waiting list and this is a guy who goes to your home, Cynthia Sayerand works with you. One on one is a personal trainer and it occurred to me, this is years ago, probably a decade ago. I thought that’s pretty cool. Here’s a personal trainer who only wants to make $10,000 a month and only ones to have 10 clients. And I said, how did you get to that? He goes, Oh man, I used to work in a big box gym. I would charge people $50 a session and I just kept kinda upgrading and pruning and printing to get to where I am today. And so I think if somebody out there wants to become the next band, Joe Hall of fame musician possible, although it doesn’t seem statistics statistically probable, can you talk to us about why you decided to choose an instrument that really isn’t well known or why you decided to pursue? Because you could have probably at age 2018 maybe switch to a different instrument. 19. You know, you’re very self aware. Why did you decide to go all in with the Banjo?

Well, uh, there is always that very, very important component of where does your passion lie. And, uh, I believe in following your heart. I believe in diving into something that you’re really passionate about. That doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for you. But, um, I don’t know. You got to try and, uh, I was attracted to this instrument for certain reasons. You know, there’s something about the instrument which, first of all, I liked jazz and I didn’t even understand that I was attracted to jazz as a teenager. And, you know, until I met my teacher Petty Fisher, I liked musicals, for example, like guys and dolls. I didn’t get the reason was because it was swinging, you know. And uh, so once I made this connection and I also was introduced to an historic player named Elmer Snowden, and I heard the Banjo as this really hot swinging instrument, full of integrity, full of swing.

I understood what a powerful jazz instrument it was instead of this corny show, busy, dorky thing that I heard people play sometimes and that, that had nothing to do with this inspirational historic figure who was also, by the way left out of most history books. And when I heard that I was like, wow, this is what I want to do. This instrument. There’s something about it that’s honest. It’s forthright, it’s driving, it’s powerful, it’s swinging and I connect to it. And when you do what you love, it matters as we all know. And so I, I jumped in and uh, and I learned, you know, issues about the instrument being not being accepted as a jazz instrument. Well, the way you get it accepted is by demonstrating it. And, uh, I have many years of walking into a room. I was kind of a double whammy as you might imagine, you know, jazz was all male, very, very few women, uh, in Jazz.

Thank goodness it’s changing now. Still very small percentage, but it’s nothing like it was. And uh, I was a double whammy. I was playing what was considered a ridiculous instrument. And I was a woman to boot, so I got a lot of eyes rolling and oh my gosh, what kind of job is this going to be? And then when I would start to play, they would be so shocked that I could play, you know, then on, you know, on me went. So, uh, if you have a connection, if it is a passion, I think that is what centers you to pursue something.

Instrumentalists and jazz, which was predominantly up until recently, mostly male. Um, I don’t know the exact percentage breakdown now today. What’s it like to be a female artist in a predominantly male industry? Male field, male career. Um, what’s it, what’s it been like to be pretty much one of the lone females to enter into this career?

Well, as you can imagine, and as any woman in any career can imagine, uh, you have, uh, there are a lot of negative assumptions. There are a lot of double standards. There are a lot of, uh, a higher bars for you. Then for everybody else. There’s pay differentials, all those things in any corporate job that you might find. Anything that you might have out there, you know, and we’re all familiar with the me too, movement and all of these things. Well, I experienced all of those things. And um, now, uh, I, I almost every show someone would come up to me and go, wow, you play really great for a girl. You know, it mean just nonstop things. It’s still a joke of mine to touch, to introduce my musicians. These guys are wonderful for guys. You know, I still do that today. Uh, but, but, um, the, um, I know I’m going off track

editing this a little

bit, but, um, uh, there, there, there was one advantage that I had which was that whenever I was part of a touring ensemble, like for example, um, I would do some tours in Europe where there was one jazz player, one Irish player, one a bluegrass player. Like they would put together these packages and where you would show many sides of the Banjo. My photo would be the one to get into the paper all the time because I was the girl, you know, all that kind of stuff. Uh, so that would often create bad feelings as well, you amongst my colleagues. But, uh, I would say that the difference is that if you, if you can come up with the goods, you know, musicians, artists, I think for the most part if you play, if you really can play musicians embrace you because they really care about the actual art of it presenters, the people that hire you, the people that pay you, the people were, you know, you really earn your living from that can be a little tricky.

And what I went through, I went through years of, of thinking, oh, are they hiring me because I’m this novelty, are they hiring me because I think I’m a good player. And, and I decided I have no idea if this is true or not, that if I was hired initially it was just because they were curious and a novelty. But when I got invited back and that was because they decided I was good, you know, or that I proved that I was good. So that was, those were some things that I did to help me manage these feelings. And, you know, these difficult circumstances, but the musicians themselves, you know, it’s, it’s always been a pleasure. I like working with people who are nice people in who are good musicians and I think, I don’t know, I think most musicians just feel that way in general.

Um, if you can play then you can play. That’s all there is to it. But of course there’s so many things surrounding that as well. And now I would say it’s within, I don’t know, five to 10 years. There’s a whole new world of young women who are great high level players out there. And in fact I, throughout my career I was often asked, oh, put together an all girl band, you know, and I wasn’t going to put together some stupid token kind of group. But I’m also, I literally didn’t know enough women to be able to fill in a band at a certain caliber of playing. I didn’t know them. I didn’t know where to find them. I hadn’t met them. I was touring internationally for 15 years before I ever worked with another woman. Instrumentalists. And I remember I was in, it was in Germany and I walk out on stage and, and it was a concert and there was a woman bass player and I was, I was flabbergasted.

Wonderful. I, I remember it very clearly now. I actually then later, I don’t know, it’s been maybe eight years, I, I created an all women band in Europe, a Europe based all women band because um, I decided it would be fun to work with women for a change. And I’ve nothing against guys. It’s great to work with everybody, you know. But it was a very different experience to work with women and it was a blast. And I have a group called the women of the world jazz band and maybe you saw some of those videos are online, but I only play with that group on occasion. And that is more of a traditional, an older school, traditional jazz hot jazz style band. My own group here in New York City, uh, which is my joy ride band were, were far more eclectic and I do kind of, well all kinds of stuff or whatever. I feel like a, but that is a more focused, uh, hot jazz group and, and I was playing with some of the, some great, great women talent in Europe, but today, even today, if one of them can’t make it because we’re all independent people who tour and work with other people, if one of them can’t make it, it’s not so easy for me to fill in for them. So, um, you know, but we’re getting there. We’re getting there.

One of the things that I, I enjoyed when researching you and kind of looking up about you, is it, you have, you know, you decided to become a full time committed professional musician and yeah, very good friend of mine I went to college with at Oral Roberts University. Uh, Ryan tedder. He’s a Grammy Award winning artist and writer now. He writes for beyonce and Timberland and Adele and Taylor swift. He’s racking up grammys. He just released an album with Paul McCartney. He’s got Ryan tedder has got so many awards and accolades. But one thing that, that I, I love being around him and being his friend was that he was committed to being a professional musician probably before any of us realized what he meant, you know, before people even realize what it meant to be a professional musician when we. Where were you or what, what was happening in your life when you, when you decided, okay, I’m all in, I’m going to be professional. This is not a hobby. This is not a wish. This is not a hope, but I’m going to be professional. And how have you been able to earn an income as a professional musician?

Well, uh, where I was in my life was that I had done some tours and, uh, I had played with some magnificent musicians and uh, I thought what can be better than this? And I decided that I needed to give it a go and actually relating to one of your earlier questions, you know, this music, the passion for the instrument. I also discovered a passion for this certain niche of music. I knew it wasn’t pop music or commercial music. And um, that was okay with me. I something about it grabbed my heart and maybe there’s a good fortune if you’re into a more commercial sound because you can be a real rockstar that way and all that. But I guess that was never a part of my agenda. It was about the connections that I made with this music. And um, I wanted to have a life of adventure.

I didn’t want to be in an office, and I know this might sound trite, but the idea having to wake up early every day on someone else’s schedule was to me like a prison sentence and I just could not imagine having to do that. I loved the idea of me being in charge of my time and my life and I just thought, what am I doing? You know, I, I don’t know about. I suppose if you believe in reincarnation and all kinds of other things, you’ve, maybe it gives you a bigger span. But for me it’s sorta like you live and then you die and I want to make the most of it. And I reached this point where I said, you know, this is fun, this makes me feel fulfilled, it makes me feel rewarded and I’m got to give it a shot and knowing how difficult it is, and I did and I discovered I could support myself.

And little by little I learned to be a better businessperson and create a career out of it, like not just playing gigs, not just playing little nightclubs or parties now and then or something, but to actually do something with it and have a mission about it, which is that this instrument is kind of forgotten or overlooked, I should say, uh, as a part of our American musical heritage. And uh, I like reintroducing it. I like making it popular again. I liked people enjoying this gift of this great music from this wonderful instrument. And uh, it’s like I had said earlier, I mean, how many jobs are there where all you do is something that’s like a gift to others. You know, it’s uplifting. It’s, it’s rewarding. It’s fun if you’re. Yeah,

something positive. This is great. This is where I wanted to tap into your wisdom on this because you’re giving something positive, you’re giving something to the, to our listeners and to your listeners, and hopefully we can merge the two. Hopefully everybody checks out your music after today’s podcast. We have so many musicians who listened to our show and aspiring professional musicians. They want to turned their passion into their job. What advice would you have for all of our listeners out there who are wanting to become full time musicians?

I have some very particular advice, you know, uh, first of all, get some actual playing experience. Uh, and this might sound obvious, but many aspiring musicians find it difficult to get over the hump of performing live. You know, there’s a lot of performance anxiety, particularly at the beginning and the way to do this is what I did as a teenager. I called up, I called up local, um, local nursing home and volunteered to play. I mean, talk about a place where everybody loved you no matter what you did. Uh, and uh, I think I volunteered at the library, like I just started playing. I started playing in front of people, I played, you know, after school I played, you know, I, I created business cards. I knocked on doors to my local restaurant that had music and um, I offered to play, you know, so getting, playing experience and really having something solid behind you so that you have the confidence in the skill to know what you’re doing because I promise you, you will learn just by playing in front of others.

It’s very different than playing alone in your apartment or your house. And the other thing is that get a professional photograph and if you don’t know what a professional photograph is, look online and see the kind of photographs that other musicians have and uh, get a piece of paper and put a very well written description of your music on there. So you want to be able to have something that you can use to pitch for yourself. And it needs to be attractive. It needs to be succinct and it has to be a good piece of selling that honestly describes what you do. Then you have something to email to people and you have something in your physical to offer people a try to get into a recording studio or do home recording, put out a couple of tunes, you know, and invest time, energy and if you need to some money and having a real sample of what you do and have what you can offer and um, you can take it from there. But there are very practical things that sometimes people don’t realize that they need to do. And those are some of them.

No, my, my co host of the show, he’s also a musician. He loves playing guitar. And Eric has a hot and fresh question for you, Ms Dot Cynthia Sayer that he would like to ask you. Yeah. Uh, so getting into kind of the nerd aspect, I grew up playing trumpet and drums and jazz band and I switched over to Qatar, but I’ve always been intrigued by the Banjo. So for anybody out there that already plays a guitar or a string dinner, a stringed instrument wanting to make that switch, what is the first steps or what kind of Banjo even would you recommend for somebody trying to make that change?

Well, first of all, it’s very important that you understand whether you want to play jazz or whether you want to play bluegrass country, that thing. So you have to decide whether you want to play the five string banjo or the four string banjo. And then once you do that, you, uh, you know, you find there are many inexpensive instruments relative for, for this instrument. I know different instruments have different price ranges, a very inexpensive string bass is very expensive. Uh, but I think you can buy a, a Banjo for a couple hundred bucks or a few hundred bucks and then of course they go up to thousands and thousands of dollars. But, um, you know, you some of the information that, you know, as a guitar player, I actually, I also am an avid educator and I have some private students. I published a play along program called your in the band.

It’s for, it’s called the real of playing in a traditional jazz hot jazz band and, and it’s done very, very well. And I hope anybody interested in this particular genre. Uh, we’ll, we’ll look that up. I have a free download sample. It’s for all jazz instruments, not just Banjo, and I hope you don’t mind me offering that. I actually want to pay it forward. I want people to play this wonderful kind of early American jazz, but if you are a guitarist, um, there’s, you know, there’s a pretty vibrant scene out there which most of the young players call it hot jazz. Some people call it classic jazz that’s now not out. That term is now out of favor a New Orleans jazz, traditional jazz. Uh, when I first started to play, people used to call it Dixie land, which is actually refers to something else that the musicians now fine.

Don’t like that word. Yeah, there are all these silly terms. Basically you just find the music that you love to make sure that you are going in the right direction. And getting the correct instruments, I’m contacted all the time by people wanting to learn banjo and not knowing where to go and what to do. And the first thing I ask them is what kind of music do you want to play so I can steer them in the right direction. And if they want jazz, if they want swing, if they want, you know, roaring twenties, any of that kind of stuff, then I’m the right person. But if they don’t, I, I offered them other ideas.

And so that would be the four string would be more of that jazz or swing Banjo?

Yes, it is the fourth string, which is the jazz. And there are two kinds of four string banjo. There’s a tenor Banjo and there’s a plectrum Banjo. Both of them were widely used in the 19 twenties. They both have slightly different histories. They have different tunings. A tenor banjo is tuned in, pitched exactly like a viola. And the plectrum Banjo is sort of a first cousin to the five string. And not to get too Banjo nerdy on anybody, but if you know, both of these are played with a flat pick, just like you play a jazz guitar. So it’s that kind of concept. Whereas the five string banjo is the finger picked, you know, or some frayling it’s a whole different whole different world of music and they don’t know how to do this and I don’t know how to do that unless, you know, some people literally play both, even though they’re all Banjos, they’re very, very different. I mean you can play trumpet and Trombone, but they’re two different instruments. So some people of course play five string and for string, but they are two very, very different instruments.

Thank you very much for that. Very helpful. I would like to tap into your wisdom with three final super tough paint you into a corner. Super divisive superintendents. Gotcha questions. So don’t be overwhelmed. You’re a successful person. I was somewhat argue, super successful person and therefore I’d like to ask everybody on our show who has achieved some level of success that we deem to be abnormal. How do you spend the first four hours of each day?

I wish I could say something very exotic, but probably like 90 percent of everyone else. I check my email when I get up. That’s probably the first thing I do. Um, it’s, uh, there’s a, there’s a, a, I think there’s a dilemma for people in creative arts about balancing business and creativity. And for me, I try to get business done and out of the way and I use the later part of the day for a creative things. I also believe in staying fit and eating right and exercising. So, um, my first four hours will, uh, there’s a, there’s about three different possibilities. There might be all about business, it might be just getting through my emails and getting off to the gym and it also might be doing some teaching or some consulting about my or, or diving into my projects. So, uh, and if it’s my project, of course I put that in a creative category, but I tend to want to get things off my desk first. And I know, I know me sometimes if I get wrapped up in things that means I won’t get outside and won’t get exercise so often I’ll try to do that early but more or I don’t know, 50 percent of the time. It doesn’t happen till later. But. So I don’t know. Is that

question two and three I have here for you, talk about your big projects and your big goals. So right now, question two, what are your big projects for this year? And question three, what are some big goals for your future?

Okay, well, I actually, because I recently published your in the band, I am enjoying that airspace of just playing and uh, and we’re working on, you know, the, the, the work for, for future business never stops as it doesn’t in all businesses. Uh, but I, I have this airspace right now. So I am not working on a project. I don’t want to work on one immediately. I feel that way after every record I make after every big project that I do, I just need a little breather. It recharges, gets the juices flowing for whatever will come next. And I can’t say that I know I’ve got all kinds of little possibilities, you know, floating around in my head, but I don’t know yet and I don’t want to say any of them out loud until I know what I want to focus on so that you happen to catch me during that airspace time.

And in terms of my goals, um, I really, one of my main goals, I, I’m so grateful and humbled to have achieved, which is that I pretty much always get to work with really top players. But that was a big goal of mine to have a certain kind of professional stature that I would be with really excellent people because that’s where it flies. And so that’s, that’s one goal. Another goal is, um, oh, I want people to be familiar with my instrument. I earnestly do. I want people to be familiar with this kind of music that I do. And um, I guess, I don’t know, it would be really great to, to work less hard on the business and have things just fly my way without me even trying. But I know that that’s just not the reality, but that would be a goal.

That seems like a fair, a fair, a series of goals. Now I would like to ask my final question before we wrap up today’s show. So many of our listeners love to read books. You know, they love to read a book that inspires them, a book that pushes them, a book that mentors them, a book that opens the possibilities into maybe the future. Are there, is there a specific book or a couple of books that you’ve read throughout your life as a hall of fame, a Banjo artist, or just as a human on the planet earth where you thought, man, that book really is a book I’d love to pass on to the listeners out there. One you would encourage our listeners to go out there and purchase today.

Well, um, I have to say that I’m not sure if the first book that springs to mind is, it’s, it’s, it’s less relevant than it was to me when I read it, but it’s still relevant. It’s a book called stormy weather by Linda Doll. D, a h, l and uh, and I read this book, it’s called, it’s the music in lives of a century of jazz women. And I needed to read this book because I needed to learn about this world of great jazz women players that were out there and I needed this book, like I was starving for it and it really helped me. It made a big difference. I felt very alone, uh, in this field. And uh, not, not in terms of comradery, but, you know, it just made me feel good. And uh, and then, uh, about the band Joe, if you want to get into Banjo land, uh, I would say one of the definitive books where that has barbaric twing by Karen Lynn, l I n n, but, you know, these are very pointed to my world and, and my, my profession, uh, in terms of the business side of things. Um, I have to say that, uh, my manager, bg Dilworth has really educated me a to a whole new level about a managing my career at a, at a better level and negotiating better and so on. And I would imagine that there are some great business books out there, but I cannot, I cannot tell you,

I appreciate your transparency because I started out as a Dj Cynthia Sayer. My first company was DJ connection Dot Com, one of the nation’s largest wedding entertainment companies before I sold the And so I read an obscure book about how to become a disc jockey from a lady in New York. I think it’s on the shelf there. Chop, you can find it. I think it’s kind of over there, towards the bottom there. But I read this obscure book when I read this book, it was like, to me mind free. And it made me feel I wasn’t alone as somebody who wasn’t quite qualified to be a carny, therefore I had to be a DJ. And so it really encouraged me. And uh, I would just encourage Chubb who wrote this book, what’s the book called? The book is called the Mobile Dj handbook, how to start and run a profitable mobile disc jockey service by Stacey Zeman. I think there’s seven or eight people out there who already bought them. So I’m, I’m no seriously, we’re one more time read the book title. It’s so good for me at the time, mobile DJ handbook, how to start and run a profitable mobile disc jockey service.

Oh my goodness.


You know, I’m also, uh, as you know, uh, one of the other important things is to network and connect to people who you admire and ask them questions. You know, I, I had the great fortune to be to meet and work with and, and be friend Marian mcpartland, a legendary jazz pianist and I was on her, uh, her, uh, NPR show a couple of times and I asked her what was it like for you? I must’ve been really hard. Her, her husband, Jimmy Mcfarland was a, you know, very well established musician. I said, did you get in there just because of your husband or what was it like? And she basically said, you know, well, therapy helped me and you know, and it was like, she’s such a legend. And it was some, it was so humbling and, and helpful thing. I mean, we all go through the same thing. We all aspire. We all have to start somewhere, you know, it’s like you just, it’s just a step at a time and know your goal. And by the way, I’m also a big believer in keeping your goals very fluid because you never know how things unfold in life and uh, it’s great to have a goal but don’t, don’t, don’t tether yourself to it, allow it to grow an Arab and, and sometimes things shift, you know, and so he got to allow that freedom. And uh, so that’s my two cents, I guess

we always want to end the show with a boom. And during the thrive nation we have hundreds of thousands of folks who download each and every podcast and boom stands for big, overwhelming optimistic momentum because they believe that’s what it takes to, you know, attack everyday and seize the day. And so would you be willing to help us do a countdown? We do three, two, one. Then we end with the boom. Would you be willing to supply the boom at the end of the three, two, one. Here we go. You Ready? I’m ready. Emotionally. I remember Jeff, we’ve done the rhythm therapy. We don’t have. We’re not in touch with the rhythm. I’m going to wing it. Here we go. Here we go. Great. One.


Let us know what's going on.

Have a Business Question?

Ask our mentors anything.