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Governor's Awards Spotlight: Jim McCutcheon


Dayton | Montgomery County

Bio: Jim McCutcheon has played the guitar since he was 11 years old. He graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in physics and a medical school acceptance and then went on the road with a band. When the tour concluded, he knew music would be the best career for him, and he returned to Dayton, studying music at Wright State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in music (Guitar Performance) and later a master’s degree in music education. As a member of the Ohio Arts Council’s Touring Roster, Jim has performed all over Ohio as “The Guitar Man” and has also performed in England and Russia. He has made four recordings for adults, as well as two specifically for children. He has several publications of guitar compositions and instruction books to his credit, and has written a variety of magazine articles published in the U.S. and England. Jim reviews recordings for Soundboard, the journal of the Guitar Foundation of America. He also serves as Guitar Adviser to the National Federation of Music Clubs. Jim can be heard weekends on Dayton Public Radio’s “The Intimate Guitar,” which he has produced since 1986. He currently is Artist-in-Residence at the University of Dayton, and adjunct faculty at Wright State University and Miami University. He owns and operates McCutcheon Music in south Dayton with his wife, Debbie, which, with a staff of 50 teachers, has won Dayton Magazine’s “Best Music Instruction” for the past two years.

Nominated by:

Luke Dennis |  WYSO Public Radio | Development Director

 “Jim ‘The Guitar Man’ McCutcheon’s love of music- teaching it and playing it- is contagious. And he is never NOT teaching or playing.”

Support from:

Mary Campbell Zopf |  Muse Machine | Executive Director


“Jim knows children come to school singing, dancing, drawing and imagining many roles for themselves. And he fashions imaginative learning experiences that build on natural curiosity and creativity. Engaging children in the first years of their lives profoundly impacts their future learning and success.”

Dr. Perry Yaney | University of Dayton | Professor Emeritus of Physics and Electro-Optics 

“Jim McCutcheon is a performing artist with a unique mixture of leadership, musical talent, and actively deep knowledge of science and a talent for teaching. He is, by any measure, a person dedicated to using music to teach and to instill the desire to learn.”

Amy Wert | Mother of  one of Jim’s students 

“Jim’s teaching style is hands-on and adaptive. In class, he sits on the floor and plays with the kids; he plays different instruments and meets them where they are at, all the while encouraging good technique. He praises them for hard work and not just for performing well. He is investing in their characters.”

Martha Masters | Guitar Foundation of America | President

“What I didn’t realize until I was much older was how incredibly rare it was in that time to have a guitar teacher who actually taught good technique-proper hand position, a great free stroke, solid tone, etc… I always knew I was lucky to have had Mr. McCutcheon for a teacher for so many reasons, but it was when I reached college that I gained my first real appreciation for how little I had to go back and correct technique.”

Christy Smith | Ohio Federation of Music Clubs | President

“The one thing that I admire about Jim is his passion for promoting the classical guitar to people of all ages. He performs wherever he can to introduce this string instrument with a beautiful sound that is ‘held closest to the heart’.”


The Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio is a statewide program that showcases and celebrates Ohio artists, arts organizations, arts patrons, and business support of the arts. The public is invited to nominate individuals and organizations in seven awards categories. A selection committee, made up of Ohio Arts Council board members and three individuals selected by Ohio Citizens for the Arts, chooses the winners. The program is presented by the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation. The 2017 Arts Day & Governor's Awards Luncheon will take place Wednesday, May 17, noon, at the Columbus Athenaeum. Visit for more details.

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