Hawks And Owls String Band

Hawks And Owls String Band

1 hire on Lessons.com
3 employees
53 years in business

About this pro

Bruce Ling, one of Michigan's finest musical treasures, is a River-side mystic, eloquent storyteller and passionate caretaker of America's collection of traditional music. Raised in a multi-faceted musical family, Bruce found his calling at the ripe age of eight, earning his first $5 playing in a garage on Chicago’s South Side for a birthday party. He grew up learning from many older musicians, and became the recipient of a vast amount of “Oral Tradition”: songs and stories passed on from older to younger generations.  He has since honed an extraordinary repertoire of traditional string-band tunes from near and far. He plays with equal flair and skill on fiddle, mandolin, and flat-picked guitar.  With stage performances that combine the expressive style of Garrison Keillor or Will Rogers, he paints musical portraits celebrating the colorful history of rural America with a broad repertoire of both original and time-savored traditional folk songs.  As singer and songwriter, Bruce understands the importance of keeping the history of this timeless musical genre alive and well. He shares his keen knowledge with caring and passion, and his inspiration has propelled a legion of young musicians to continue playing these songs...a true testament to Ling's talents as a teacher and mentor.

     "Bruce is an all around musical genius. He plays mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and sings as a great bass vocalist. He is one of the best around." --  Glynn Russell, Wheatland Music Festival, Remus, MI 

Whether performing solo, joined by his wife (world class old-time rhythm guitarist Becca
Ling or combining forces with additional string band members in Hawks and Owls String Band, Bruce's dynamic versatility is unmatched. Critics and fans alike herald his expertise on the guitar, fiddle, and mandolin in concert performances and Contra dances. 

Bruce's original songs showcase both his eclectic life and the unique characters that he's met along the way, and are inspired in great measure by his experiences spent living alongside Michigan's wild and scenic Rivers and the denizens and creatures who inhabit them.  

Hawks and Owls string band

the acoustic evolution of rural American music

Bruce Ling and the Hawks and Owls String Band offer audiences an engaging and memorable live performance experience. For more information on booking him for concerts, Contra dances, recording sessions, and instructional workshops for fiddle, banjo, mandolin and flat-picked guitar, please contact: 

Becca Lynn


[email protected]


Whoa! The full answer to that could extend into tomorrow!

In a nutshell, I love seeing the "aha!" moment when someone that's learning from me gets it. There's a noticable shift in energy, and everything gets a bit brighter.

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Comstock Park, MI 49321
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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

I first access whether a student will learn best by ear, Tablature, or Notated music. I ask questions, not only of musical experience, but of their intrests, pets, etc., and pay attention to finding out who they are and their reason for learning or improving on a specific stringed instrument.

I require that my students bring a video recording device, in which I will put the highlights of the lesson for them to work on at home.

I also produce the string band for the large Grand River Folk Art Societies Contra Dance, and offer my students an opportunity to sit in with a professional band and play Traditional American fiddle tunes. This happens the first Friday of every month at the 5th Street Hall, 701 5th Street. 

As well, I'm a founding member of the Great Lakes Music Camp, and act as an Advisor to Jason Wheeler, Executive Director of the GLMC. The non profit that I founded and am president of is the fiduciary for the music camp, and other music and educational exents in West Michigan. 

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

I began playing slide guitar at age 4 under the instruction of my father and uncle, both professional musicians playing Country and Rock and Roll, respectivley.

At age 8 I played my first paying gig, earning $5 playing in a garage band with teenagers for a Birthday Party. Wow! I realized folks would pay me for what I loved doing!

At age 13 I had my first guitar student who wanted to learn fill-in licks. The word got out about me teaching, and I started doing this weekly. I realized shortly thereafter that everyone who came for lessons forgot 70% of what they learned when they walked out the door, and so I started recording the highlights of the lessons on a cassette tape. Today my students use iPhones and such. 

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

$50 an hour.

No half hours. The energy needs time to build, and a half an hour is a waste of everyones time. I'll not do that to an aspiring musician.

If a Teacher can not easily keep a Student's attention for an hour, and not selflessly pour out his/her energy and musical experience to keep that Student energised, they have no business being involved in the sacred occupation of sharing knowledge. 

How did you get started teaching?

At age 13 I had a guitar player ask me to show him how I played fill-in licks. 

A long time ago, I discovered that I have an unlimited amount of patience, and can sit for long periods playing the same thing over and over as a student gets a phrase down pat.

I am recognized as a keeper of Oral Traditon, and I receive Grants to financially support those talented students that I identify and feel will carry on what I learned from the old folks when I was younger. These Grants are through the Wheatland Music Organization, the Northern MI Songwritters in the Round, and BlissFest.

What types of students have you worked with?

I work with all types of students! 

Recently, I have a young man who wants to be a fiddler. Unfortunatly, he's tone deaf and can not hear the intonation requiered to play a non fretted instrument. After a year of frusteration, I talked his parents into getting him a mandolin. Frets! He's flying on the mandolin!! And, he's translating what he's learning on the mandolin to the fiddle, and lo and behold, his intonation is perfect and he can now sing a very passable DOE-RAY-ME...

Years ago, 6 year old Serek came for weekly fiddle lessons, till he went off to college. His mom videoed each lesson, and Serek had to play along with the video for 15 minutes before school every day. He's now graduated with a Masters in Music Education now, and is an excellent mandolinist.

I encourage multi-instrumentaism, if I feel the student is capable. 

I work with all ages. My students range from beginners to professional musicians that wish to learn right hand techniques and tricks.

Describe a recent event you are fond of.

I founded the Grand River Water Festival and the Grand River Watershed Arts and Music Council, a non profit 501(c)(3), now celebrating it's 10th Anniversary.

Last week we held a Fundraiser to support our non ticketed June 22nd Grand River Water Festival event at Riverside Park.

Our Fundraising event featured our Mayor Bliss saying good words about our non profit to those assembled, and it was held at a 33rd Floor Condo at the River House/Bridgewater Place, the home of friends of mine. 

We had the best view in town, the River House being the tallest residential building in Michigan, and after the Fundraising presentation my guitarist/wife Becca, former mandolin student Jason Wheeler (Fauxgrass), and myself on fiddle played a few tunes for the gathering.

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

You'll not know if you've found a good fit with a Teacher until you sit with her/him.

If after 3 lessons you dread returning, your Teacher has made you feel inadequate, or any other things of a negative aspect... run screaming!!

I hear all sorts of horror stories from middle aged folks that come to learn, who had started out as a youngster with a bad Teacher and that bad experience haunted them for way too many years. 

They set with me and say, wow, this way is so much easier, you're nothing like my first Teacher.

So, avoid those that do not make you feel good about yourself and your growing talents.