Jack grew up in a musical family in rural Illinois and began playing guitar at age 5. When Jack was about 12 years old, he began playing bluegrass banjo (he learned from hearing his father play) and a little later took up mandolin and then fiddle. He began teaching full time at Gryphon Stringed Instruments in 1979 and has developed a complete lesson program on banjo, mandolin, fiddle and guitar.
He has taught thousands of students over forty years, many of whom have become top players in the Bay Area and beyond. He has been especially successful with children, some of whom have grown into major talents on the local and national scene. His current and past students heavily populate the jam scene in the South Bay and on the Peninsula.
He is also the music editor of Fiddler Magazine and has written twelve instructional books. Jack has developed and taught special seminars in History of Bluegrass, Critical Listening to Bluegrass, Bluegrass Improvisation and Music Theory for Bluegrass and he is known across the nation for his work in music education.