Category Archives: Beginning Banjo

When the Teacher is Taught by the Student

Teaching, by its very nature, implies a certain terminus. Courses are scheduled for a finite period of time and are completed. One reason being that no teacher could possibly teach someone forever. Teachers have finite information which they share; when … Continue reading

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Strength, Accuracy, and Speed

If you’re the type of musician who just likes to grab your instrument and start playing without much analysis of techniques, you probably won’t get much from this post. It’s a very in-depth look at what you are really asking … Continue reading

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Just Like Earl

Playing the banjo just like Earl Scruggs is a common effort among some banjoists. I even have one or two that I play almost exactly like him, but those are the exceptions, not the rule. This is a fairly natural … Continue reading

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The Nashville Numbering System

The Nashville Numbering System was around long before Nashville became known for music. I’ve seen it called by several other names and it is a basic part of music theory. I’ve heard several bluegrass musicians call it this, so I’m … Continue reading

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The Bluegrass Ensemble

The bluegrass ensemble isn’t a term you’ll find being used much, if any. But I think it well describes what it is when you are talking about the various instruments used in a typical bluegrass band. If you’ve been playing … Continue reading

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Being the Best in Your Zip Code

The last blog I wrote just now mentioned the fact that there will always be someone better than you at whatever you are doing. That’s indeed a bit humbling for some of us, I’ll agree. But still, we have to … Continue reading

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Why Play the Banjo?

Why indeed! I can think of several reasons… You get to meet some of the craz… er, nicest people around! OK, if crazy is what you’re looking for then, yes you can find that, too! As with anything in life, … Continue reading

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Quitting While You're Behind

Imagine you are going to a regional bluegrass festival (That would the the Tennessee Valley Old-Time Fiddlers Convention in Athens, Alabama for me). You hear some young banjo player picking out an incredible set of licks and you think to … Continue reading

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A Taxonomy of Sloppy Playing

Sloppy playing can creep up on you before you know it, especially if you’re just starting out learning to play the banjo. As time goes on and you get more experience, you’ll start to recognize when you’re getting sloppy with … Continue reading

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The Fence We All Straddle

When it comes to ways to learn the banjo or mandolin, there are a couple of different paths we can follow. Each path uses the same set of tools and so can look very similar to the other, but the … Continue reading

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