NEW! Take A Look Inside The Breakthrough Banjo Course In This Video
Can You Master the Banjo At Any Age?
Is it possible for anyone, regardless of age, prior experience, or pre-existing “talent”, to learn to play the banjo?
Not just play the banjo, but play it well? To master it, even?
Conventional wisdom would say no.
I say conventional wisdom has this one wrong. Way wrong. Let me tell you why.
THE UNACCEPTABLE NUMBERS
These two things keep me awake at night:
1. Roughly 95% of individuals who take up a musical instrument end up giving up.
2. Of that 5% who stick with it, only a tiny fraction ever come close to reaching their full potential.
Why does this keep me awake at night? Because I know those numbers should be better.
MUCH, MUCH BETTER. Which means that all that disappointment, all those goals and dreams unrealized, are entirely unnecessary. And it’s time we changed that.
Growing up, I really wanted to learn to play the piano. I loved music, and I loved making music. I had a keyboard, and would mess around on it, trying to pick out my favorite pop songs by ear.
I wanted to take things further, so I took piano lessons for a short while, but I wasn’t really making the kind of progress I wanted to make. And my teacher wasn’t really teaching me what I wanted to learn. I didn’t want to just learn songs off the printed page, I wanted to learn how to get the music that was in me out in the world.
It seemed there was nobody who could help me do this. So I stopped playing.
I was part of the 95%.
Years later, when I decided to learn banjo, things were a little different. By this time, the internet was around, so I had no shortage of materials to learn from.
I ordered pretty much everything I could get my hands on. And, for a while, I felt like I was making good progress.
And then I hit a wall.
I’d learned a handful of tunes, but I was stuck. I wanted more. I knew there was this huge chasm between my playing and the playing of those musicians I admired, but I didn’t know how to cross it. Was this just a lack of talent? Was this just the limit of my ability?
Even worse, when I went to play the tunes I’d learned with other musicians in a jam, they would break down. I could play them fine on my own, but for some reason they’d fall apart around others.
My enthusiasm started to wane. Days would pass between practice sessions. Then weeks. Then months.
Now I was part of the 5%.
But that was about to change.
THE “AHA” MOMENT THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
One simple and surprising realization change everything. Once it occurred to me, it was immediately clear why I’d hit that wall, and why so many others were hitting that wall.
It was a realization that seemed so obvious, yet it hadn’t been addressed by the teachers I’d had, or in any of the teaching materials I’d used.
Like magic, my playing took off. That chasm that once seemed insurmountable was gone, replaced now by a clear path towards making the music I’d always wanted to make. I had broken through that wall.
Even better, I was able to apply these principles I’d uncovered to other styles and instruments I’d always longed to play: fingerstyle banjo (bluegrass, old-time), fingerstyle and flatpicking guitar, fiddle, piano, and mandolin. And this while having a full time job and a family, with an average of about 15 minutes or less of practice per day.
Was I able to do all this because I possessed some unique innate ability to play all these things? Nonsense.
I was able to do all this because I had found the path for crossing that chasm.
What was this realization I had? It’s so simple, it can be conveyed in a single sentence:
To learn to play like the masters, you must learn to play like the masters.
Now, the emphasis here is important, so let me present it another way to make sure it’s clear.
To learn to
play like the masters
learn to play
like the masters.
Sounds obvious, right? Almost trite. But perhaps that’s why it’s been so often overlooked. The path I had been on, the path I’d been placed from the teaching materials I was using, was not the path the masters had taken. Which was exactly the reason it wasn’t taking me where I’d wanted to go.
IT’S NOT ABOUT TALENT
You see, I didn’t stall out because of a lack of information about banjo playing. I had plenty of that. Probably too much, in fact.
And I didn’t stall out because of a lack of motivation, will, or talent.
Why did I stall out, then? Why couldn’t I see my way across that chasm? Because I didn’t have the right process.
The process of learning to play the banjo is really the process of changing the brain. After all, it’s ultimately our brain that controls every aspect of our playing. And we create that change through practice.
What and how we practice, then, or the process we use for learning, determines whether we end up with the brain we want, or with one that leaves us stalled out and frustrated.
Our process is what determines whether we hit that wall, or whether we break through it and realize our true potential.
Once I looked at the problem from a new perspective, through the lens of learning and the science of neuroplasticity, the way forward was clear.
A METHOD FOR ADULT BRAINS
I’ve spent nearly two decades in both my professional and personal life now studying the science of neuroplasticity, applying my knowledge to my own learning methods, keeping what works, ruthlessly eliminating anything that doesn’t. Over that time, I’ve built a system for learning designed to take full advantage of our brain’s ability to change itself.
And now I’m sharing that with you.
I’ve also studied the learning methods of master musicians. Time and again the story behind their success is the same.
The story is not one of prodigious natural gifts that manifest the moment they plucked their first note, but rather of an unabiding passion for music combined with hard work, dedication, and, last but not least, an airtight process for learning.
They’d mastered their instrument because they’d mastered the art of practice, or the art of changing their brain.
I’ve written about these principles over the years in the “Your Brain on Banjo” column for the Banjo Newsletter, and more recently in the “Laws of Brainjo” series here. The Breakthrough Banjo course is those principles put into action.
FOCUS + COMMITMENT + PROCESS = BREAKTHROUGH
Learning to play the banjo well doesn’t require any special talent. It’s grounded in biological learning mechanisms that we all share, and that exist in all of us until the day we die.
I want you to reach any goal you have – whether you’re 28 and want to perform on stage, or 78 and are looking to cross an item off your bucket list. And I want to provide you with the most direct path for getting there, so that you to have loads of fun along the way. Cause in the end, it’s the journey we remember.
The Breakthrough Banjo course will take you from total beginner to as far as you want to go. You provide the focus and commitment. The course provides the process.
Together we’ll mold your musical brain.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
Breakthrough Banjo was initially launched in late 2014. Since that time, I’ve been blown away by the support and feedback from members.
Most importantly, I continue to hear from members who’ve taken the tools provided here and used them to reach their goals, in many cases goals they would’ve once thought impossible.
Here’s what a few of them have had to say about it:
WHAT YOU GET INSIDE THE COURSE
After becoming a member of Breakthrough Banjo, you’ll have instant access to an enormous body of learning materials that progress from the beginner through advanced level.
The central instructional content is the primary learning modules. Each module typically includes a video lesson on the primary topic, along with the supplemental materials in the form of picking exercises, tunes, and written materials that reinforce the primary lesson.
In the supplemental learning area, you’ll find “The Vault”, a large and ever expanding library of tunes and songs for clawhammer banjo, in multiple genres, for all occasions, and containing arrangements for all skill levels (Brainjo level 1-5), to help ensure that you’ll always have music to both inspire and challenge you.
It also includes the Breakthrough Banjo “jam player”, an expanding library of backup tracks for you to hone your chops playing backup, picking up tunes on the fly, and just getting used to jamming in general.
Currently, the course includes over 40 hours of video instruction, along with hundreds of tabs and picking exercises, and the content continues to expand.
The sequence of instruction has been carefully chosen based on the principles of the Brainjo Method to ensure you’re learning the right kinds of things, at the right time, and in the right order. To make sure that, no matter where you’re at, you have all the tools and resources you need to break through to the next level.
You’ll learn how to drop thumb, thrive in a jam, learn tunes by ear, play along with a fiddler, pick up tunes on the fly, and much more. Think you can’t do all that? Let me prove you wrong.
For a limited time, membership is just $7 for the first month, $21 per month thereafter. And, just for signing up, you’ll get $69 worth of bonus materials that are yours to download and keep. No hidden fees. Cancel anytime.
Got more questions about the course? Check out these pages: