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Tim Moon is accomplished on multiple instruments. (Contributed photo)

He couldn’t make himself ‘sell out for a while’

Tim Moon has spent his whole life doing what he loves … teaching others how to play music. 

An outstanding musician who is accomplished on multiple instruments, the 53-year-old is right where he wants to be, spending time with his family, serving the Lord in his church and community, performing locally with friends, and teaching around 70 students per week on various stringed instruments.

“The Lord was in it. God shaped my path,” the married father of two confidently stated.

Raised in the Erect community, Moon was drawn to music at an early age.

“I grew up in music. It had a huge impact on me. My grandfather, WC Kiser, played in a bluegrass band. My mom played piano. My dad played guitar and mandolin. He showed me how to play ‘Wildwood Flower’ on the guitar and ‘Bury Me Beneath the Willow’ on the mandolin.”

Eager to learn more, Moon started music lessons with his grandpa. The family patriarch worked with him on the guitar and mandolin, but when his grandson wanted to learn the banjo, outside help was recruited. 

“Grandpa took me to see Harold Chriscoe (the late Seagrove banjo picker and instrument builder/repairman). He taught me the three-finger roll on the banjo. Then Everett Moffitt showed me how to play the bass fiddle.”

In his mid-teens, Moon formed a band, Back Creek Bluegrass, with other area musicians that included his high school instructor, the late Allen Ridge, who picked banjo, Bill Ridge (Allen’s dad) played bass, Jeff Hayes was on guitar, and the late Alan Perdue sawed fiddle. Moon picked mandolin to round out the ensemble.

“For our age, we were pretty good,” Moon recalled. “Alan and I won the talent show at Southwestern Randolph (High School).”

Chriscoe gave the aspiring musician some sage advice. “He said, ‘If you forget half of what you know, you’ll be tough.’ At first, I didn’t understand what he meant. He explained, ‘If you play a song and folks don’t recognize it after the first 10 notes, that’s not good. Play to your audience. They want to recognize the song.’ ”

Moon took those words to heart. “I’ve learned if all else fails, play the melody. Keep it simple. It works every time.”

Teaching begins

Moon took Chriscoe’s life lesson and passed it on to others desiring to learn a musical instrument. During his senior year, Moon started teaching music lessons for Richard Evans at Evans Music Center in Asheboro. It was a perfect part-time job for the music lover. 

Upon graduation, Moon attended Randolph Community College to obtain a degree in business, continued to teach at Evans, and assumed additional instructional duties at the college. There the Randolph County native had an epiphany.

“I taught (string music classes) at RCC and had about 80 students per week (between his two teaching jobs). I realized that this is what I wanted to do (for a living),” he said.

As Moon embarked on a teaching career, he was offered professional positions in traveling bands, but opted out. 

“Gena Britt (Grammy nominated banjoist from Star) contacted me with offers to play as a road musician. I was grateful, but just knew in my heart that teaching was for me.”

Moon had amazing experiences and doors kept opening.

“I got to play Bill Monroe’s mandolin. I played mandolin some with Alison Krauss. Doyle Lawson asked me to audition for a position in his band. Lonesome River Band wanted me to play mandolin with them.”
Each time the accomplished multi-instrumentalist chose teaching and staying home rather than hitting the road playing music.

“Ricky Skaggs told me, ‘You have to sell out for a while. Music is your life.’ I thought I don’t think I could totally do that. Teaching is where I need to be.”

Featured twice on FOX8’s Roy’s Folks, Moon is happy with the decisions that he has made in life.

“Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t choose life on the road. God has sent me some wonderful folks (to teach).”

Successful students? Many

Moon’s list of students who earn their living playing music is extensive.

“I taught Ashby Frank (Nashville mandolinist) from the ground up. I taught Kevin Richardson (Merle Monroe guitarist) when he was nine years old. I taught Daniel and Carolyn Routh of Nu-Blu (in Siler City). I taught Zeb and Samantha Snyder (professional musicians from Lexington) and Trent Callicutt (who recently played the Grand Ole Opry twice).”

Callicutt praised his former instructor. “I began taking lessons from Tim at age 12. A great player is hard to find, and a great teacher is hard to find. Finding a great player who is a great teacher is a rarity. He possesses both those traits. Tim is definitely that person.”

Richardson added, “He taught me a lot when I was first starting out on banjo and later guitar. I will always be appreciative of his time and patience with me.”

Other notable local musicians Moon started on their musical journeys include Donna Hughes (song writer and singer), Boyd Hulin (former owner of Got2Pick Music in Asheboro, mandolinist with Destination Bluegrass, and now an instrument instructor himself), the Burrows Brothers (Jake picks banjo with Kevin Prater Band and Adam fiddles with Larry Efaw and the Bluegrass Mountaineers).

“Tim Moon is a sensational musician on any instrument!” Hughes said. “Very versatile and accomplished! Most musicians that took off started under the hand of Tim Moon! He is also a great singer, and puts on a wonderful show! I am honored to know Tim. He always has a bright and sunny attitude to share.”

Adam Burrows readily agreed. "Tim Moon is one of the most versatile music teachers I know. From bluegrass, country, jazz to rock, he can cover it all. I would not be where I am today without his guidance. I treasure our friendship."

Moon taught the late Daniel Luther (Long Gone Bluegrass Band mandolinist killed by a drunk driver), Pam Davis (founder of High Lonesome Strings Bluegrass Association in Greensboro that has 1,000 members on Facebook) and Jake Goforth (15-year-old powerhouse guitarist). He has also worked with whole families that have formed bands, including the Stills Family, the Smith Family and the Walters Family.

“I held my first recital at Randolph Community College. I was told (by administration) that recitals were not well attended. I said let me give it a try. Bluegrass people are a very tight and close knit group. I believe they’ll support it.”

Moon was exactly right. The auditorium seated 275. On his inaugural recital, all seats were filled and doors were opened so people could sit outside and still hear his students perform.

Moon's son joins in

When COVID hit in 2020, something good actually came from the world shutting down, Moon gained a special student.

“My son has become my favorite student,” he said.

Prior to the pandemic, Nolan, his 14-year-old son, had played drums, but when he became stuck at home, he wanted to do more musically.

The proud father shared, “I had no work. He had no school. He came to me and said, ‘I don’t want to sit and play video games and watch TV all day. Can you teach me to play music?’ I said sure, what do you want to play? He said, ‘I want to learn everything (banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, bass). I want to be like you.’ ”

So the Moon household became a music school with father instructing son. Starting with the guitar, Nolan worked six months, 8-10 hours a day, absorbing the music like a sponge. 

“We formed a close bond,” the senior Moon stressed. “Nolan’s got a good ear and good timing. He’s more gifted than me, but our time together helped to hone my skills. If my students pass me, it’s my own fault.”
Nolan did learn it all and now serves as utility man in his dad’s band, True Grass, playing dobro, fiddle or whatever is needed for a particular song.

The band’s banjoist, Matthew Nance of Farmer, shared his take on his bandmates. “Tim has taught many great musicians over the years and helped to preserve the music we love. Nolan has definitely took after his dad. He is very talented and just a good kid overall.”

Tim Moon recalled the words that his grandfather relayed when he started his grandson. “He said, ‘You’ve learned more in six months than I’ve learned in 40 years.’” Laughing, Moon added his own perspective, “Now I’m there with Nolan.”

Looking back … so far

Reflecting on 35 years of teaching and more than 10,000 students, Moon was quick to respond when asked what was his greatest accomplishment.

“My children! My son says that he wants to do what I do. If my son can continue this …keep the music alive and keep it going. Plus our daughter, Amber, is an amazing singer, guitar player and pianist. If I have passed along my music and my love of Christ to my kids, that’s my greatest legacy! Starting back with my grandfather, we’ll soon have 100 years of music in our family.”

The musical instructor is busier than ever, currently teaching in three separate locations. In addition to Evans Music Center, he teaches three string music classes to middle and high school students at his son’s school, Asheboro Hybrid Academy, and in his music studio beside his home off Zoo Parkway.  

Moon is a happy man, content in what he does, and pleased to see the next generation of music masters in the making. 

Once in Chriscoe’s little instrument workshop, he encountered a professional musician enlisting the aid of the Seagrove luthier. During their meeting, Moon sat down and played some music with the man who made his living performing on the road.

Moon reflected, “After hearing me play, the professional picker said, ‘You could have done anything you wanted.’ Harold just nodded and said, ‘He did.’ ”

And Tim Moon has.

Interested in lessons? Contact Evans Music Center 336-629-4666 or Moon 336-625-7937.