Composer, improviser, and performer Jacob Means enjoys experimenting with new sounds while still maintaining a relationship with traditional folk music. A versatile musician, Jacob has traveled around the world performing in a variety of settings, including an a cappella ensemble in Shanghai, China, and a bluegrass band at the International Folk Festival in Slovakia. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Vocal Performance at the University of Wyoming, Jacob is now pursuing his passion, the mandolin, and received his Master of Music degree in Contemporary Improvisation at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA.
Now Jacob has formed a trio called The By & By, a new Boston band taking a fresh approach in reviving American Roots music. The trio features Jacob Means on mandolin, Brad Barrett on bass, and Leah Hennessy on vocals. On stage, they're just as likely to borrow and bend a tune from the Carter Family as they are to steal a tune from Muddy Waters or Blind Willie Johnson. Though the tunes themselves are largely borrowed, the music is new and challenging, meant to be heard with fresh ears as a beautiful take on something that you love. With elements of jazz and improvisation, it's a contemporary, groove-oriented take on American folk. Jacob's other influences include musicians like Chris Thile, Jeff Buckley, Joe Morris, Cecil Taylor, Wayne Shorter, Mike Marshall, Ricky Scaggs, Alison Krauss, Crooked Still, and many, many more!
Jacob’s music is highly intuitive and technically precise, and his sensitive playing creates a relaxed aural space for collaborators and audience members alike. Performing in venues as diverse as the distinguished Jordan Hall in Boston and the renowned Colorado folk festival, Rocky Grass, his compositions and performing style range from deeply emotional and poignant to playful and adventurous. In its clean harmonic language and melodic lines, his music reflects a sense of space influenced by the great Rocky Mountains and clear skies of Wyoming, where he spent his childhood experiencing the great outdoors.
Jacob is also a teacher, with over 7 years of experience, working with people of all ages on mandolin, voice, guitar, theory and improvisation at summer camps and workshops all over the world. Committed to bringing his new approach to traditional music to the community, Jacob has also successfully led free improvisation workshops around the New England area focused on bringing people together.
My teaching style is student centered and focuses on giving students the tools they need to learn and play the way they want to. Using ear training, specific technical exercises, and playful improvisational lessons, I am able to get students playing and creating music right away as they work towards their goals. Since I grew up playing folk music in an aural tradition and also had formal musical training in school, I really like to use the entire spectrum of teaching; from call and response, to reading music, to composing melodies on the spot, I try many different things with each student to find what works best for them!
Lesson Materials will be discussed during lessons and will be made to specifically address a student's needs. Lesson materials may include transcriptions, written technical exercises, sheet music, short instructional videos, etc.