Richard Stillman

Montclair, NJ

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About this pro

I teach banjo, mandolin, guitar, ukulele, bagpipes, harmonica and penny whistle. I also teach acting and tap dancing.

I play with a bluegrass band, a dixieland band and an Irish band. My Irish band was featured in 2007 at the Hunter Mountain Irish Festival. For the past 20 years, I have been touring my shows to theaters, schools and festivals. Two Silly Fathers Productions is a musical theater duo, and The Mythmakers is a storytelling and music group. I also perform music and tap dance shows with guitarist, Paul Byrne.

I was featured on the premier episode of the PBS TV series, Shining Time Station. I received critical acclaimation for my performance in "Lady Be Good" at the Kennedy Center and the Goodspeed Opera House. On Broadway, I played the clerk of Oxford in "Canterbury Tales" and understudied "Mummenschanz". I performed at the New Jersey Folk Festival, opened for Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog, and perform every year at the New Jersey Storytelling Festival. I studied at Dartmouth College, Columbia Teachers College and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. I also studied privately with the legendary vaudeville musician, Roy Smeck.


Montclair, NJ 07042

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7 Reviews
  • Larry W. Jun 18, 2013
    In order to deal with my turning 40 mid-life crisis, I took up the Ukelele after a trip to Hawaii after I turned 39. Prior to that time I never played a string instrument (other than the Piano...which I play poorly). I have been taking lessons for about 2 months and have only the best things to say. A few quick points: 1.) You can tell Mr. Stillman appreciates teaching...being a teacher is more than just playing an instrument well 2.) while he does not have a fancy studio, he can teach you over the internet or in person in Montclair, NJ. 3.) One of the things I like is he will record the lesson we did -- so when I get home I can hear what I am supposed to be playing, (Having been born and only starting to realize that I have a decent ear for music this is very helpful to me). 3.) He is responsive, lets say you have a question while you are practicing, you can count on Mr. Stillman to get back to you via e-mail 4.) He will work with the songs you like. I got a few ukelele song books (including some cheat books). Mr. Stillman will actually take the time to arrange the music for you as part of the lesson. Also for a very reasonable price he will take the music and actually take the time to arrange the piece for you. 5.) Mr. Stillman works with what he has...what I mean here is that if you have talent in one area he will work to use that talent. In one of my lessons he said you have a decent ear and I want to use that. I appreciated that, because it allows me to advance better by using whatever talent (albeit limited I have). Teaching is not about being a robot, its about knowing your student and getting the most out of them! 6.) He makes learning enjoyable! 7.)Mr. Stillman teaches a number of string instruments. This is important because if I decide to move into a new instrument like the guitar, I have a teacher that can make that transition easier. Said another, way if I move to the guitar me nor the teacher will be starting from scratch. Two months into my lessons I am playing a number of songs, not just strumming a few chords, but also the chord melody part which makes the Ukelele sound great. Still have a long way to go, as any person who plays such an instrument knows that grabbing chords crisply takes practice. That being said this journey into taking up the Ukelele has been one of the most refreshing and relaxing things I have ever done. To be honest when I first started I would have gotten board or just given up, instead I find myself wanting to learn more; the teacher certainly has something to do with that!
  • Rich H. Jun 13, 2013
    My 13 year old son has been taking lessons with Richard for 3 years. Richard is a great teacher and has an uncanny ability to make learning banjo interesting, challenging, and a lot of fun. Plus, he's a great guy.
  • Julia L. Jun 13, 2013
    I have been taking banjo lessons from Richard Stillman for a year. He is a patient and inspiring teacher who listens to what his students want and adjusts his teaching accordingly. When I get stuck in between lessons, I can call him for advice. He will record difficult passages online so that you can reference them while practicing. If you want to play a particular style of music, he will find pieces for you. He is also an extremely talented musician and performer, with an impressive list of instruments that he has mastered. I highly recommend him.
  • Dave W. Jun 12, 2013
    When I decided to put my old tenor banjo back in playing condition I also decided to take some lessons, being a slow learner and already in my 70's. I found Richard on the web and called him thinking he could recommend a tenor banjo teacher here in northern Virginia. Instead we ended up doing the lessons on Skype, which works great. Richard is a patient and understanding teacher who puts up with my deficiencies. He is always on time and always prepared. He frequently follows up the lesson with a quick MP3 so I can practice correctly. I am getting comfortable with the instrument, learning to read music and able to find notes on the fretboard. We are currently doing a single string version of 'June Apple' and a chord melody arrangement of 'Ain't We Got Fun." And it is fun!! As soon as I finish mastering my banjo I'm going to take bagpipe lessons from him. Or ukulele. Or tin whistle.
  • Jason R. Jun 12, 2013
    I've been taking lessons with Richard for a little over a year now. I've been playing music and taking lessons for various instruments since I was in middle school and Richard is without a doubt one of the greatest teachers I've ever had. He's word of encouragement have made learning the banjo not only easy to get through the hard times but fun as well. My lesson days have become one of the highlights of my week. My girlfriend has also even booked him to perform for her senior center where she works. I would HIGHLY recommend Richard.
  • Tim L. Jun 12, 2013
    I have been learning bluegrass banjo with Richard for one year. He's a great teacher. I started from the absolute beginning -- didn't really even know how to hold it -- and have progressed to play more and more complicated pieces faster and faster! We've been using Peter Wernick's book. Richard makes it fun and interesting. And he has very flexible hours. I've taken lessons most days of the week and as late as 9 PM. I highly recommend Richard.
  • Ross R. Jun 12, 2013
    Working with Richard has been very rewarding for me. Trying to learn my first instrument has been a lot of fun, but as I began studying on my own, I realized how challenging it can be to understand proper mechanics and technique, read music and learn music theory. Richard has been instrumental in helping me to assimilate all these areas efficiently. He has been able to help me identify my strengths, highlight what needs to be improved, provide insight and guidance as to practice methods and is consistently encouraging. He is dedicated, passionate and makes lessons fun. I look forward to my weekly lessons and can't recommend him highly enough. Just don't take my time slot!