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TAPES LET BUDDING MUSICIANS PLAY WITH THE STARS

SHARE TAPES LET BUDDING MUSICIANS PLAY WITH THE STARS

Want to learn how to play the piano like Dr. John? Bass like Rick Danko of the Band?

Got 10 or 15 years?You can take a shortcut with instructional tapes - audio and video - from Homespun Tapes, whose faculty includes Dr. John, Danko, guitarists Chet Atkins, Richard Thompson and Gatemouth Brown, bassist John Enwistle of the Who, mandolinist David Grisman and singer Maria Muldaur, to name a few.

"I don't think there's any substitute for a really good teacher," said veteran singer-guitarist Happy Traum, a music teacher and founder of Homespun.

"With books, it takes someone who knows something about music to start with to pull something out of a black-and-white page. The problem is either that most people don't have a teacher in their area who can teach a particular style or they don't have the schedule or the time to go to a lesson every week and practice. The tapes give them an opportunity to learn something and practice at their own pace."

Some of the most respected names in the business, most of whom don't have the time or inclination to teach, give lessons by tape.

Homespun's catalog features more than 450 titles, embracing everything from basic guitar set-up and repair to group singing in the African American tradition to making and playing homemade instruments for children.

It all started when Traum began making individual tapes for his guitar students when he had to go out of town to perform. That was in the mid-'60s when he was a well-known folkie in New York's Greenwich Village.

About 15 years ago, Homespun became so big that it could no longer be run from the Traums' Woodstock, N.Y., home, said Jane Traum, who runs the business.

"We had two people working with us at the house and the UPS man arriving with packages," she said.

"And I'm still in my bathrobe," her husband interjected.

So the Traums set up an office.

The company now has eight full-time employees and a mailing list of nearly 40,000, and it sells tapes by mail-order (1-800-33-TAPES) and at about 700 music stores.

The videos, which run 60 to 90 minutes, generally cost $49.95; audio tapes cost $14.95; sets of tapes are sold for a discounted rate.

Among the best sellers are Dr. John's New Orleans piano tapes as well as Traum's beginning guitar lessons. The teachers are paid an advance, plus royalties.

Traum, who produces the tapes usually in a daylong session in Woodstock or Nashville, does not work with a script.

"I want it to stay very conversational and informal, which is the trademark of our tapes," he said. "I want them to feel like you're in the guy's living room and he's really talking to you."