CLAWHAMMER BANJO INSTRUCTION
CLAWHAMMER BANJO INSTRUCTION
I TEACH BANJO THROUGH SEVERAL METHODS
Through my Patreon page, which is where all my new teaching videos live. They can be accessed by my patrons, who pledge a small fee to help support my efforts ($4/month. ) Check it out here.
Remotely, via Zoom or another video conferencing app. If you’ve never tried this, you’ll be amazed at how well it can work. My price is the same as for face to face lessons: $50/hour. Payment is by PayPal or credit or debit card or you can send me a check. At the end of each lesson, we set up the next, at an interval that seems right for you. “Occasional” lessons are just fine, as are weekly recurring ones. It’s up to you.
In person, to people local to me, I teach at my home in Athens, Ohio. Lessons are $50 for an hour lesson. Lower prices are available to some individuals, based on individual circumstances.
In person, to people who arrange with me to come individually or in a small group to my home in Athens, Ohio for a 2 or 3 day period. We have guest bedrooms in our home and we generally supply dinners at the restaurant we own, and breakfast and lunch at home. There are lots of local motels if you prefer. The closest large airport is CMH in Columbus, 70 miles away. References are available upon request. Price is dependent on my schedule and how many hours of instruction you think you can take in the period of time you’re here, and whether you’re bringing a significant other or are coming with a friend who also wants banjo instruction. Just call me and we can discuss my pricing, which is very fair.
At music camps and workshops. The pandemic has basically done away with my camp gigs for this year, but I'll add them when life returns to some semblance of normalcy.
Through my YouTube channel. If your financial circumstances are such that you can’t afford lessons, or my $4/month Patreon page, I urge you to check out the free instructional videos available on my YouTube channel. You won't get the feedback that a lesson provides, or the higher-quality video and audio of my newer videos, but it's still a good resource!
Above: an example of my instructional videos.
Below: My teaching philosophy and methods
My style is supportive and relaxed. Your goals are MY goals.
Ultimately, the greatest joy I’ve had as a banjo player comes from playing with others. Those peak moments of “entrainment” where you are locked together musically and are of one mind keep me loving life! It’s the kind of joy I wish for all my students, and I try hard to help you get there.
To me, the role of a banjo in a jam (including a “knee-to-knee” jam with just a fiddler!) is threefold:
1) Play the most important melody notes. (Not ALL of them… that’s the fiddler’s job!)
2) Sketch out the chords when possible/appropriate. (You can do less of this when playing with guitar, bass etc. if you like.)
3) BE THE DRUM.
I find that many if not most clawhammer banjo “arrangements” learned by tablature or from video instruction are too complex for beginning to intermediate players to play smoothly in a medium- to fast-tempo jam situation. And while I do believe that it’s useful to learn an initial repertoire of tunes note-for-note from an instructor (these tunes help equip you with a sort of vocabulary of “licks” that will then be easy to call up when needed for other tunes) I think often students learn more tunes note-for-note than they need to. At a certain point, one needs to learn how to play a tune heard at a jam or on a recording. The banjo player needs to be able to choose and produce the melody notes they want to play, and make those notes fit rhythmically into the clawhammer style.
I don’t use tablature when teaching; I have developed a sort of descriptive patter to prompt students during a lesson if it’s helpful to the student (it is to most, but not to all, as learning styles differ) and I supply slow and clear audio-video instruction, generally uploaded to YouTube, for students to refer back to. One reason I’m not a proponent of tablature is that a tune learned through tab feels to me as if it’s lodged in a different part of the brain… and seems to be “locked” there in such a way that improvisation on the tune becomes more difficult. And while your mileage may vary, I’ve had very few students who weren’t easily weaned from tab!
I encourage students to learn some basic chord shapes in the two most common tunings, and to use a handy, increasingly popular number system to refer to them. We then work on hearing chord changes and learning the fretboard of the banjo and the notes commonly played in each chord.