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Christopher Henry

Music is Just the Way it has Always Been

Growing up in a musical family where both parents are incredibly talented has been a remarkable journey. From the moment I entered the world, music enveloped me, becoming the soundtrack of my life. I picked up the mandolin at age 4 and it has been a passionate love affair ever since. Murphy and Red Henry raised my older sister, Casey, and me while traveling full time playing music with their band Red and Murphy and Co. When I was 11 years old I joined, along with Casey, mom and dad when they formed the Red and Murphy and their Excellent Children band. We traveled together, near and far, playing music and spreading joy. Both of my parents are also musical educators. Together they created the Murphy Method in the early 80's and have taught thousands of folks to play, learning all by ear. This is how I learned (and now teach) as well, without a









I moved to Nashville in 2004 to focus fully on music. I was fortunate to support several incredible musicians, play the Opry, and start a band with my sister, Casey. From 2012-2016 I led my own successful band, Chris Henry and the Hardcore Grass, and we did several tours including two in Australia! In 2016 I traveled to Peru for the first of many trip down south to go work with medicinal plant and trees in the Amazon and this process truly changed (and continues to unfold) my life, for the better. The medicines of our beautiful Earth are vast, profound, and have enhanced my being - body, voice, mind heart, and soul in iimmeasurable ways. In January of 2017, after not having as much commercial success as I had hoped for performing bluegrass, I made the decision to retire the band and move back to Virginia to focus more on teaching. My teaching has been informed by both of my parents who have been educating musicians for over 40 years! Like them, and what is different with the way I teach in contrast to many music instructors, I teach all by ear with no tablature, nothing written down ever! I also aim to infuse creativity into every lesson - not just to teach, but hopefully to inspire! I love helping empower students to unlock their own unique musical voice.

In the fall of 2017 I was driving from Virginia down to Savannah to have my mandolin fixed by Randy Wood. It has suffered a great accident and had been run over by a vehicle. It was devastating, AND, if it were not for that misunfortuante experience, I would not have met my wonderful wife, Brooke. I stopped in Charlotte, where I had some family, to break up my road trip and that is when we first met. We quickly realized that we independently shared a Curandero (healer/shaman) in Peru. I moved to Charlotte about a year later, we got engaged on the Winter Solstice of 2018 and were married on the Summer Solstice of 2019.






As newlyweds we got thrown into the pandemic together, which could have gone any which way, but we survived, we thrived! We have a sweet life here in Charlotte with our furries, one pup and two kitties, and I have a stepson, Gryphon, who attends UNC Chapel Hill. My wife teaches yoga, leads yoga teacher trainings and helps me immensely managing the business of Noya Mountain Music. One of our favorite things we do together is serve Mother Earth and humanity while apprenticing under the renowned Shipibo curandero, Papa Gilberto Mahua. This work enables us to facilitate bi-monthly healing retreats here in North Carolina. Reach out of you're curious to learn more!


single sheet of music in sight. Raised in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the wisdom, creativity, and passion that surrounded me has been a gift that continues to enrich every aspect of my existence. Although I was born into Bluegreass music, my path has meandered through many trails including the exploration of the eclectic beats of hip hop and the thrashing of drums in a punk rock band. From playing for Bill Monroe backstage at the Grand Ole Opry to collaborating with Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan I am grateful to have learned from many diverse musical situations. Lately, my greatest fascination lies in the soul-stirring melodies of traditional Peruvian healing songs called icaros.

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2005 IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year Nominee (long list) 

2005 IBMA Instrumental Album of the Year - Monroe Approved - Nominee (long list)

2011 IBMA Song of the Year - Walkin' West to Memphis Nominee (final)

2011 Gibson Brothers record Christopher's song Walkin' West to Memphis

2015 California Bluegrass Association Emerging Artist of the Year Winner

2020 Carolina Blue record Christopher's song I'm Gonna Wait on Jesus

2021 Grammy Bluegrass Album of the Year Nomination with Peter Rowan's Calling You From My Mountain

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Learning By Ear

This is the Way!

Teaching and learning by ear is important because many folks are learning from tablature and they are not able to properly understand how the phrasing and sound of the music is actually supposed to be and it therefore becomes a crutch. Oftentimes students can play something off of a piece of paper, but it doesn't sound especially musical, and then they are locked into that arrangement and not able to incorporate extemporaneous improvisational ideas into their flow. So to train one's ear without any written notation or tablature from the beginning prevents the crutch from occurring. For those that have been using tab and are looking to switch over, the change can be challenging at first but so very worth it! The response seen over and over again from folks making the transition is that it has been the most valuable change they have ever made in their playing. The thing I have heard repeatedly throughout the years is that when learning by ear, as opposed to tab, the music sticks, it is not only "by ear' but also becomes "by heart."

Murphy Henry, aka "Momma", aka "Pioneeress" of the Murphy Method and Learning By Ear says:

"If you want to sit at home and play mandolin tunes by yourself, perhaps tab is all you need. But, if you want to jam with other people, you have to be able to play by ear. The skills you need in a jam session are based on hearing what’s going on as it unfolds. What are those skills? Hearing the chord changes, playing in time, recovering from a mistake on the fly, and making up a break to a song you’ve never played before. THAT IS JAMMING. You can’t get there using tab. Learning by ear gives you the tools to play with other people. Tab is a dead end."




Christopher Henry’s by-ear method has provided me with some of the most memorable teaching concepts and skills in my short bluegrass mandolin journey. While I am primarily a visual learner with a background in reading music (classical, no less), I can honestly say that the fundamentals and full songs I have learned by-ear from Christopher have stayed with me much more than many elements I have memorized from tab, and I am always able to use them when improvising and trying new things in a way that note learning has never been able to offer. Also crucial to the success of this by-ear method is Christopher’s overwhelming passion and enthusiasm for bluegrass, his deep understanding of its components, and his ability to break things down into fundamentals and clearly explain/ demonstrate to students of all ability levels. He is also extremely encouraging to students as they fumble through getting familiar with new techniques and visibly gets as much pleasure (possibly more!) when we “get it” as we do!

Altogether I’m very pleased with all of the instruction, both recorded and in person, that I have sought from Christopher and can say unequivocally that his by-ear teaching technique, his wealth of knowledge and his enthusiastic encouragement have played a tremendous role in taking my mandolin playing from beginner to almost intermediate in a relatively short period of time. And it’s just been plain fun, too.” ~Theresa Seiders

"This is the best stuff out there!"  ~Issac Revard

 “Learning strictly by ear rather than by sheet music has been a revelation for me … somehow the music gets stored in a different part of my brain and I can actually remember the tunes and licks whereas I seem to forget everything if I rely too much on sheet music.  I bought some more lessons from you then and have been working on them ever since.  They have helped make this pandemic tolerable!” ~ Dave Smith


“I realized no more barely paying attention to what’s going on. No more rote memory on badly transposed PDFs, welcome to the real world. If you listen, you can repeat it…..eventually….This is the best thing I have done for a long while.” ~ Michael Burkes


“I have learned SO much already from the first set and I’m just scratching the surface! The course is excellent – your lessons are inspirational and challenging.”  ~Chris Cantergiani


“I have learned Southern Flavor from your lesson. It was a great stepwise easy to follow lesson I particularly found it good for me as I am legally blind and learn entirely by ear.” ~Colin Scott


“The Advanced Monroe Workshop has given me the tools to first listen deeply to hear the way the architect(s) play the tunes so that we can do that more efficiently and effectively. Chris also helps translate Monroe’s “language” so that we are able to appropriately and tastefully apply this vocabulary to the songs we are learning and playing.”  ~Josh Levine


“I recently joined a popular online course because I wanted to learn this tune The Road to Malvern that John Reishman is teaching. Well, I want to tell you that after practicing The Murphy Method for last year or so I found that I had no desire to even look at their tablature! It wasn’t needed! I learned the tune in like two days, probably just a couple hours of practicing. I of course have a long way to go to get it up to speed and work out the kinks but I was really impressed. A year ago I would have been struggling with the tab for a week or more.  It is much easier just to listen to the music .I want to thank you for opening my ears to your way of learning.“

~Tom Cotter in Halifax, Vermont


“Your lessons are the absolute best for learning traditional Bluegrass.” ~ Jacob Mallach


“This is an awesome package!!! Everything anyone needs is there. Very clear instruction and presentation.” -James Gregory


“You and David really knocked down a wall for me. I’m learning so much more since I got off the tab.” – Mark Doty


“Your way of learning is just perfect” – Sondre Larsen, Norway


“Chris explores the intricacies of Monroe’s playing with loving patience and respect for the Master’s music as well as the student.  ~Butch Waller (World Class Monroe-Style Master)

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