An early devote of traditional American guitar styles, Nick Schillace began studying fingerpicking techniques at the Augusta Heritage Workshop in West Virginia with artists including John Jackson, John Cephas, Steve James, Roy Book Binder, Del Ray and many others shortly after picking up a guitar in 1984.

Nick spent a decade adapting these techniques to acoustic and electric guitar, and later banjo, before entering the music program at Wayne State University, ultimately earning a masters degree with a focus on 20th Century American music identity. Centering his research on the late guitarist and composer John Fahey, Nick explored the intersection of folk and vernacular influences and how these influences develop into a cultivated style for artists. This research still informs the way he approaches his own music, as well as his work as an educator. 

In demand as a soloist as well as an ensemble player, Nick works in a variety of collaborations, most notably Lac La Belle, with his wife Jennie Knaggs, and the traditional jazz ensemble Detroit Pleasure Society. He has recorded several albums as a soloist and in ensembles and has made several tours of the US and Europe.

Professional Instruction

Nick has been teaching privately since 1993. In 2000 he opened Orion Music Studio in Lake Orion, MI where he teaches and manages a full service staff of professional music educators.


Teacher's Statement: I believe that the best way to learn is through application. Without practical use there isn’t any other way for a student to be successful. Technique and style are a means to an end, but a student must understand why they are learning something and how it will work for them creatively. Ears, eyes, and hands function in collaboration and all methods of learning are fundamental.


As a fingerstyle guitarist and banjo player, Nick uses traditional techniques to help students understand how to compose and arrange in any style, utilizing theory and improvisation lessons to give students a wide range to express themselves.  


In addition to teaching in Lake Orion, Nick teaches out of his home studio in Detroit and via Skype and is available for group classes and workshops. To discuss setting up private lessons contact Nick for a consultation.