The BREAKTHROUGH BANJO Course Tour
ABOUT THE COURSE: Breakthrough Banjo is a complete, beginner-to-advanced course for clawhammer banjo. It is based on Brainjo Method, a neuroscience based system of instruction designed so that anyone can learn to play, regardless of age or prior musical experience.
On this page you’ll find a video tour inside the course, along with descriptions of the various content areas.
Watch the VIDEO TOUR Inside the Course:
Course Content Areas
As you can see from the video, the course is divided into multiple sections, all of which can be accessed from the main course menu. Below is a listing of the major sections of the course, along with the kinds of content they contain.
PRIMARY LEARNING MODULES. This is where you’ll learn the fundamental skills and knowledge of clawhammer banjo. You’ll do so in a carefully chosen, step-by-step sequence.
Topics of the Primary Learning Modules Include:
- Chords & Tunes in Standard G Tuning
- Dead Simple Drop Thumb
- Delightful “Double C” Tuning
- Hearing Chord Changes (playing by ear, part 1)
- Finding the Melody (playing by ear, part 2)
- Building A Clawhammer Arrangement (playing by ear, part 3)
- Singing with the Banjo
- How To Build Complete Clawhammer Arrangements
- How To Play With A Fiddler
- Essential Music Theory for the Clawhammer Banjoist
- Essential Elements of Round Peak Banjo
- Clawhammer Backup Made Easy
- and more!
SUPPLEMENTAL LEARNING MODULES. This is where you’ll find lessons on other essential topics in clawhammer banjo. Unlike the Primary Learning Modules, the order in which these are consumed is not as important.
Topics of the Supplemental Learning Modules Include:
- Tunes & Tunings
- The Magic of Old Time Banjo (classic old time solo banjo pieces)
- Using the Capo
- How To Thrive In A Jam
- The Elements of Tone
- Getting Started with Fretless Banjo
- Secrets of Playing “Up the Neck”
- Clawhammer Backup Made Easy
- The Downpicker’s Guide To Bluegrass Banjo
THE VAULT. Arguably the most popular part of the Breakthrough Banjo course, “The Vault” is the ultimate (and always expanding) library of clawhammer banjo tabs and tune tutorials. Click here for the list of songs and tunes currently in The Vault.
Here you’ll find an ever expanding repository of songs and tunes arranged for clawhammer banjo, along with accompanying step-by-step tutorial videos, and each with a Brainjo level rating.
The ultimate goal is for you to find inspiring tunes to play that are appropriate for your current ability level (and so you may find ones that push you further as well).
THE BRAINJO VIRTUAL CLASSROOM. Added in 2018, the Virtual Classroom is where live workshops are held, including tune and song tutorials, along with topics that are underrepresented in traditional instruction. All workshops include a supplementary PDF book, and are archived for future viewing.
THE CLAWHAMMER LISTENING LIBRARY. Copious listening is one of the most essential elements to making progress as a player.
In the Listening Library, you’ll find curated playlists of recommended listenings of clawhammer banjo masters. It’s a way of immersing your ears in the sounds of clawhammer and all of its many dialects.
THE BREAKTHROUGH BANJO JAM PLAYER. Backup tracks are my absolute favorite practice tool. In the Jam Player, you’ll find an expanding set of speed-adjustable backup tracks for the tunes in The Vault, organized by key, and with the chord progressions displayed.
BEATS FOR BANJO. Also known as “the metronome killer,” Beats for Banjo are rhythm tracks designed specifically for banjo practice. They are enormously helpful for working on rhythm and timing, and have multiple uses.
I personally use these tracks all the time – they’re loads of fun to play with and hugely helpful.
THE “EAR LAB”. Anyone can learn to play by ear. All it takes is practice.
Intended as an extension of the 4 part series on how to play by ear in the Primary Learning Modules, the Ear Lab contains workshops and tools for continuing to develop your ability to play by ear, jam, and improvise.
DROP THUMB DRILLS. Here you’ll find a series of progressive exercises for cementing your drop-thumb abilities so that it becomes second nature.