The ToneWay® Project: helping people play music

Success Stories: Randy Shelton

Here's a letter (unedited) I got a few weeks ago that just makes me so happy. Seeing this kind of enthusiasm for learning keeps me going, page revision after page revision. My favorite part is how learning music had a direct, measurable effect on his health and quality of life…

Dear Luke,

This letter is to thank you and your entire family for putting up the web site, sharing with the world ways that music can enlighten one's life. I am retired, sixty five years old, and was tired of sitting around the house watching TV or playing card games online. I had never played an instrument or sang, ever, in my entire life. After attending several bluegrass festivals I got the bug to learn to play so I could participate in jams in the evenings. popped up as the result of a Google search and I was “off to the races”. I was excited to play my first song, Shady Grove, with your help, on July 25, 2011.

After a couple of weeks of playing along with your lessons every day, my wife said to me, “you are much calmer, your blood pressure must be down”. I realized after a month that the TV had not been on but for an hour or two the whole time and that online card games were almost a thing of the past. My wife was correct, my blood pressure was down 20 points, my doctor was amazed.

Your lessons teach the basics of the guitar, dobro, fiddle, mandolin, and banjo. I had no idea how these instruments related to one another nor did have a clue about music theory. Thanks to your all inclusive lessons, today, 2 months down the road, I feel comfortable playing and singing several songs from your songbook. Through your lessons it seems easy to play a few melodies on each instrument. You are correct in stating that using more than one instrument helps one understand how music works. I am a “happy camper.”

Your new article/video about getting kids into music [here] was impressive, and has been sent to my son-in-law, a bass player in a rock band. Hopefully he will see the light and get the grandkids some instruments and encourage them to play, making music part of their family.

Like I said to you in person at GOF [a local bluegrass festival], thanks again for putting a smile in my heart.

Randy Shelton


Randy is what you call a natural. I first met Randy in Susanville, he was giving fly lessons. Three months later at a blue grass event in Reno, Nv Randy sounded like he was a pro, playing all kinds of except the banjo. But give him time and he will have that one down.

Bill Vallandingham
Sparks, Nv


Interesting. When I met Randy at the GOF festival, he attended a singing workshop of mine and was having a bit of a hard time singing on pitch, as I recall. He struck me very much as a beginner, albeit an incredibly enthusiastic one. I think the larger point here to the public is, don’t cut yourself short! Someone else may have hit difficulty early on and said, “bah, it’s beyond me” or “I must be too old.” But you never know what you’re capable of if you stick with it.

Randy’s case of being a “natural”, though it seems uncommon, is something I have seen many countless times in classes. And the funny thing is, as experienced an instructor as I am, I’m almost never able to predict who’s going to progress the fastest in a group. It rarely correlates with how well a person is doing in the beginning. I believe it has more to do with their attitude toward “going for it” and “stumbling as a child.”


Oh yeah… and specifically, having difficulty singing on pitch at first is no indication of how well one will be able to sing with a little practice. :-)


I just found this site late last night. I almost forgot to go back today. Sure glad I did. I’m a newbie almost 1 month into it and have found this an incredible resource!

I have purchased several books, CD’s, PDF’s and can clearly see this is one of the best places to learn.

Thank you Abbott family for developing this cite and sharing your talents… :)


Right on Randy!!

I'm always glad to see one start music and no matter what age! I've got a lot of Shelton kin in the NE corner of AR, and just played some good ol foot stomping music!! I can't get enough! I'm always glad to meet someone else who can appreciate it, and impressed when they take the attitude, “I CAN DO IT!” It's those types that usually CAN!! Good on you man!
George Cavaness

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