Banjo Introduction


 
Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of the banjo! We’ll spend the next eight weeks together learning
banjo basics from how to hold, tune and fret the instrument through three common styles of banjo playing!
 
Two Finger Style: Halfway between old time and bluegrass!
Using your thumb and index finger, you can pick out melodies and chord along to songs and tunes. Your thumb
plays the melody and drives the bus in this style.
 
Clawhammer: For the plunky Old Time sound!
You use the same two fingers as the Two Finger Style but instead lead with your index finger and “frail” the
banjo by striking the strings with the back of your index fingernail then follow up with a “hiccup” on the drone
string with your thumb.  It helps to grow out your index nail a little bit for this style or use a fingerpick.
 
Three Finger Scruggs Style: Rolling Bluegrass!
Earl Scruggs claims to have invented this style of playing as a kid sitting on his front porch. Using fingerpicks
on your index and middle fingers and a thumb pick, you pick the strings in different patterns or “rolls” while
making chords on the fret board.
 
 Materials:
 You’ll need a banjo, of course! Also, have a pencil to take notes, a folder or binder to keep your notes and
handouts, two fingerpicks, a thumb pick and a tuner. A banjo strap is extremely helpful in dispersing the weight
and setting the banjo in place so that you don’t have to hold it up with your hand while making chords or
playing notes at the same time! Depending on how the class progresses, we might learn to use a capo by week
seven or eight. You aren’t required to get one, but it WILL be useful in jamming situations! FYI, a guitar capo
totally works on a banjo. I also recommend a metronome and a recording device. If you have a smart phone you
can get apps for the tuner, metronome AND recording device.
 
Curriculum:
This schedule is subject to change. It’s a general outline, but I will assess the needs of the class and keep us
going at a pace where everyone is comfortable.
 
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