Learn Clawhammer Banjo
Beginner to Advanced Banjo Lessons
February 12, 2015 by Josh 16 Comments
Michael Wooten says
Nicely done! Great job! Bravo! I really like the tutorials. They help so much to make sense of things. For me, this is a great way to learn. If this program don’t put you on the road to banjervana, I don’t know what will! Thanx again for all your effort and hard work.
That’s wonderful, Michael – really appreciate the feedback.
I forgot to ask this question…is there a rule of thumb about if a note is to be sounded by fretting rather than being played on an open string? And, of course, the other way around? Thanx.
Generally speaking, I’d say I don’t apply any rules of thumb about whether to play a tune on an open string, other than that I overall aim for economy of motion and ease of fingering wherever possible. ‘
So, when you’re trying to find the melody on the banjo, I think it’s a good idea to know and keep in mind the melody notes that can be played fretted or on an open string, especially when trying to work out your own arrangement of a tune. That way, you won’t develop any unnecessarily complicated fingering (only to realize later that you could have made things a lot simpler just by employing an open string).
I do like to get as much of the banjo ringing as possible throughout a tune, and playing more open strings helps with this; however, the tuning you use is the primary determinant of how easy it is to do this (and one reason the various open tunings are so popular with clawhammer banjo).
Bruce Harper says
I really like this method of instruction, however it’s coming at me faster than I can keep up. What I’d like to know is can I stop the subscription for a month or two, practice the fundamentals of all the prior month’s lessons and then rejoin where I left off once I’m comfortable with mastering the past lessons?
Keep up the good work,
Sorry I missed this the first time, Bruce! I just sent you an email – please let me know if you didn’t receive it (it’ll be from “firstname.lastname@example.org”).
Steve Doares says
Are you going to post accompaniment tracks for these four tunes?
Oh my goodness! When I try to speed up Sugar Hill, why do my fingers want to play Angeline the Baker?!
Haha. I should’ve warned you about this!
There are certain tune pairings – Sugar Hill and Angeline the Baker being one of them – that cannot be played in the same sitting. 🙂
Thanks Josh. Any plans to post accompaniment tracks for the four tunes in this lesson?
Yes, indeed – hope to have em up soon.
Not to be a noodge, but how are the accompaniments coming along?
Sylvia Carlyle says
One of the great things about being Dr Josh’s students is that we have access to the old-time jam machine. While it’s great to have specific backup tracks for the lessons, the backups there can be really helpful. I got an app for my tablet called Anytune pro (there are others), which allows me to change the speed and pitch of a tune. As a result I’ve been playing along with the fiddle & guitar backup tunes on the jam machine with total control over the speed. And I’ve also uploaded tunes from my iTunes library to the app, so I’ve been playing Sugar Hill along to Mac Benford & his Woodshed Allstars, and Fly around with the Crooked Pine String Band (although they’re in double-C). I’ve tried doing the same with some of the early recordings I have, but while Frank Blevins & his tarheels may be in tune to themselves they’re not in any tuning I could figure out. The upshot of all this is that I’m playing much better and I went to my first old-time session on Sunday and actually managed to sound not too horrible (the session was playing in a relaxed way, which helps a lot too). Playing along with string bands makes you more comfortable with having several instruments playing around you.
I think I missed something, on module 5, it talks about the chords for double D, in Sugar Hill, I don’t understand the finger placement for the chords mentioned and I can’t find where this is explained??
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