Online Workshop: May 10, 2020

This blog is meant to support my online lesson today. Because I tend to go off on tangents, I thought it would be best to say a few things here, and to give an outline (with supporting materials) of the lesson. I want this to be a success, not for me, but for you!

As you know, I take the banjo perhaps a bit too seriously! I used to apologize for that, but no more; it is simply a reflection of who I am—of how I learn all things. I believe the banjo to be worthy of a serious mentality though, and so I go with that. I believe that you will accomplish what you set your mind to; the higher goals you set, the higher you will achieve. So, why continue to present the plectrum banjo as “just a simple, fun instrument?” Do we want to continue to be “just simple, fun banjoists?”

I also believe that it is important to learn the lessons of the past masters (see my notes on Harry Reser and Eddie Peabody below); the banjo is a very “tradition-bound” instrument (for better or worse), and the better you know the traditions, the better banjo player you will be. I believe that “progress” is very dependent on a strong, traditional foundation (this is true for all instruments). What would the banjo be like today if someone had come along in the 1930s and improved on Harry Reser (and managed to keep the banjo in the public eye)? What then if that person had inspired someone in the next generation to go beyond them, and so on through the generations? What I’m describing here is of course the evolutionary path that the other jazz instruments have taken; as Dizzy Gillespie famously said, “No Louis [Armstrong], no me!”

Anyway, see what I mean about tangents? Now I will give links to the online lessons that I will be referring to. By the way, I know that my website is an organizational mess (preparing for this lesson has shown me just how out of hand it’s gotten!). I know just enough about WordPress to be dangerous; is there anyone out there who could help me untangle it before it dies a fiery death? I will give credit and free lessons to the one who takes on this challenge. Please let me know.

If the topic listed is highlighted, it is a link to the material. I tend to see the banjo in terms of different physical and mental “aspects.” Those aspects are:

*The importance of good standardized technique for playing hard banjo music (and vice versa)

*“Banjo music” vs. other music

*Picking hand

*Fretting hand

*2-hand coordination

*Ear development

*Scales, arpeggios, etc. Major Scales in Chromatic Order


In addition, I’ve always been a fan of Harry Reser. I have taken on the project of transcribing his plectrum banjo recordings, and hope to kick that effort back into high gear soon. If you didn’t know Reser recorded with the plectrum, read my blog The Recorded Plectrum Banjo.

Here are the two tunes I’ve transcribed so far: Easy Goin,’ Pickins

Though I’m not crazy about his music, I believe that the techniques of Eddie Peabody are very important as well, especially for developing “banjo technique.” I have posted a few lessons on the “Peabody Strokes,” but they are currently in disarray. I’ve been meaning to simplify and consolidate, as I have found a better way to introduce them. I promise that is coming in the near future! Actually, see below; I decided to upload the beginnings of it as is. The video and audio files will be coming soon. See why I need help?

Hope to see you at the workshop today! It’s at Noon, Pacific Standard Time.

2 comments on “Online Workshop: May 10, 2020Add yours →

  1. Ron, I practise most of your available lessons with variable success but I found your “on line” workshop information A) too late to join and B) I don’t know how to access it. I would certainly like to see any future workshop that you host.
    PS I like what you are doing for the banjo —- wish more of the good guys hadyour generosity with their knowledge!!!

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