The Birth and Progress of My Musical Life

In 1999, I purchased my first computer. I had no idea what to do with it, and I worked and worked to try to learn and understand what I was doing wrong. I finally hired someone who was good with computers to come over for an hour here and an hour there, and he taught me more in an hour than I could learn in six months on my own. That is when I realized how important my job as an instructor is, that I can teach people in thirty minutes to an hour what it would take them three to six months to figure out on their own.

When I was seven or eight years old, I got my first guitar. I would listen to Chet Atkins’s albums and I would figure out, on my own, Chet Atkins songs at a very young age. I am a self-taught musician, and I started out playing in some local rock and roll bands when I was in my early teens.

I discovered my first real love for acoustic music when I was 23 years old. I ran into a fellow sitting in a music shop playing a fiddle by the name of Benny Sims, who played with Lester Flat and Earl Scruggs in the early '50s, and I fell in love with the fiddle.

I started playing with the Dave Friday Band, who was made up of many professional musicians. We were the opening act for such artists as Merle Haggard, Garth Brooks, Ronnie Milsap, New Grass Revival, Johnny Paycheck, Vern Gosden, Eddie Rabbit, and George Jones, just to name a few. In 1993, I was offered a job playing with Clint Black and because of my mother's illness, I was unable to fill the position.

I started teaching in 1986 under the tutoring of Benny Sims, and when he passed away I took over all of his students as well as mine. In 1999, Jack Tottle, who was the Director of the Bluegrass Program at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City,Tennessee, approached me and offered me a job teaching in the Bluegrass Program. I have been at ETSU ever since and am finishing my 14th year. I teach beginners and advanced students alike, both privately and at ETSU. I also teach theory and the Nashville Number System. I also specialize in teaching children and people with various disabilities.

If you have any questions, feel free to call or email me. And remember, you don't have to live in the area to take my lessons, for I also teach many people via Skype and FaceTime. Thanks for visiting my website.


Dave Yates
November 2013


Appalachian Music Lessons
525 Lee Circle
Johnson City, TN 37604
423 929-2504


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Providing Music Lessons to Students in Johnson City, Kingsport, Jonesborough, Bristol, and the surrounding regions of Tennessee and North Carolina. © Appalachian Music Lessons