He's Taught Millions to Strum Along

By R. B. Fallstrom Of the | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 14, 1994 | Go to article overview

He's Taught Millions to Strum Along


R. B. Fallstrom Of the, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


THE PICK of the pickers is a self-taught guitarist who's taught millions of others how to strum tunes of their own, just like Arthur Murray taught thousands how to dance.

Over the years Mel Bay, who lives in Kirkwood and is now 81, has sold more than 7 million copies of the beginners volume of his seven-volume set of instruction manuals. His method book for orchestral guitar topped 5 million back in the 1960s.

"I would say about 30 million have played from my books," Bay says. "That's a lot of pickers. The whole thing is mind-boggling."

Many of the books were bought by people with two left thumbs; some by future stars from every conceivable musical category. One day, they're plunking out "Kum-Ba-Ya" and "Buffalo Gals," the next they're making a living with a Fender Stratocaster.

"There are some trendier approaches, but that's not unusual for method books," says Bay's son, William, who runs the family music-publishing business.

"One of the corniest methods I've ever seen is the Suzuki violin method, yet millions of children learn on it. This is an approach that works."

When the Eagles played Riverport Amphitheatre in early July, they stopped at Bay's music store at 113 West Jefferson Avenue in Kirkwood to pay homage to the master teacher. Same thing when the Who came to town, even though Bay didn't know Peter Townshend from Peter Rabbit.

"These boys from England stood out in the front, wanted a picture of me and gave me their album," Bay says. "I said, `Boy, this is a crazy name for a group.

"The guys in the shop think I'm a little square."

Maybe so. He's also partial to wearing ties dotted with tiny treble clef signs held down by a guitar tie clasp. But don't judge him too harshly on appearance, or on the antiquated tunes that fill his books.

Judge him on the results.

"For guitar methods, he's one of the grand old men of the music industry," says Madeleine Crouch of the Retail Print Music Dealers Association in Dallas. "There's not a print-music store anywhere that hasn't sold a Mel Bay book."

It's been a rich life for Bay, who got his first cheapie guitar from Sears as a 14-year-old in 1927 and now owns a D'Angelico archtop model depicted on the cover of all of his basic instructional manuals - worth $150,000 on the collector's market.

Bay got his start playing the banjo to attract crowds for a snake-oil salesman. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

He's Taught Millions to Strum Along
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.