Just about a decade ago, Roger Miller, along with some fellow steel guitar players, started to worry about the future of the instrument. There weren't a lot of young players. So they did something about it and founded the Jump Start Academy, which pairs seasoned steel petal guitar musicians with young people who want to learn.
"We'll give you a steel guitar to play on and pair you with a mentor for a year," explains Miller. "We've got teachers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa, so this is growing across the Midwest."
During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Miller and his student Nathan Emerson who is currently producing a documentary about steel guitar. When Emerson started learning to play, he said he was a little intimidated.
"I was befuddled. I had 10 strings, and three foot petals," he says. "So, I didn’t know what to do. But at my first lesson, Roger showed me how to play a few chords, and that was awesome."
Emerson is also a part of the Cedar Falls based band TWINS, and is experimenting with steel guitar in genres other than country music.
The 24th Annual Steel Guitar Show is coming up this weekend in Cedar Falls. Find more information about that here.