New Banjo Basics Course – Enroll Now!

Enroll NOW:  On-Line Banjo Basics Course  Introductory Offer:  $59.50 US dollars per year (that’s less than $5/month).    Save over 20% off regular price.  Offer expires July 31, 2017.  Once you enroll, you will be contacted and given a password to access the private website.  Enroll now and start learning how to play the banjo.  To enroll, click on the PayPal button below; or call 816-224-2330 or email to:

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This course is packed with everything you need to start learning how to play the banjo.  The course includes 16 videos,  printable practice worksheets, FAQ’s, reference diagrams, links,  tips and tools, and 12 months of FREE course updates.  There are five self-paced lessons available 24/7.  Topics include:

  • Getting Ready (orientation, tuning, picking techniques with exercises)
  • How to read Banjo Tablature
  • Proper Counting and Timing
  • Playing Six Banjo Rolls
  • Playing your first Bluegrass Song
  • Click here for more details about each topic:  Course Descriptions
  • Enroll Now by clicking the PayPal button below.

The proprietary content in this course is fundamental to becoming a good banjo player and creates a wonderful foundation to build your skills.  Even though is designed for new banjo players, it is also a good choice for experienced players that want to re-fresh the basic TIMING skills.   This is a fun course and even has a skill assessment that you can take anytime.   The course is hosted on a private password website and you can have access to  a experienced banjo coach to help answer your questions.

With your enrollment, you receive FREE course updates for 12 months.   This is a global course and is perfect for any time zone, and for those with busy work schedules that make traditional face to face lessons impractical.

Imagine learning to play the banjo at your pace, on your schedule, at your convenience.   On-line learning is to your benefit because you can replay the videos as much as you want.  There are many exercises that you can print or view them on-line all for your preference.

This course is designed with the utmost flexibility in mind.  It uses proven learning techniques of hearing, seeing, and doing.  It is my goal to provide self-paced education that works and is affordable globally.  Why not make 2015 your year to start building your banjo skills?  It is a happy instrument and I play it because I love the unique sound.  Please enroll now by clicking on the PayPal button below. 

Any questions please email: or Call 816-224-2330.

Coming Soon! – On Line Banjo Lessons

Hello banjo enthusiasts.  In early 2013 I will be officially launching a Banjo Learning Suite that consists of three On-Line Banjo Lessons which are actually education courses.  The three courses are:  Banjo Basics, Banjo Back Up, and Banjo Lead.   It is open to anyone that wants more self-paced learning that is  available 24/7 so you can access the content at anytime that is convenient to you.  

Once you enroll, you are provided an  annual subscription to a “private” banjo education website.  The subscription includes FREE banjo lesson updates  all year long.  Each banjo course is filled with diagrams, tips and tools, practice worksheets,  lots of training videos, frequently asked questions, self-assessments, interaction with other banjo players and lots of great banjo links that could offer you some discounts.  

All of the On-Line Banjo lessons or courses allows you to “dig deeper” and increase your skills faster.  You can learn faster because you can watch the videos as many times as you want, and print out the worksheets.  You can also learn from reading answers to frequently asked questions.  You are provided email access to a  personal “banjo coach” to help address your specific needs. 

As a member, don’t be surprised if you get asked to participate in a “contest” because I want this to be a great place to learn but also have some fun along the way.   Who knows, there could even be some rewards to the winners!

I am very excited about the “On Line Banjo Lessons” subscription because it can be a powerful tool to help YOU become a better banjo player in a shorter amount of time.  Check it out now:  Banjo Education Website for the new promotional pricing.

More updates will be forthcoming!



Bluegrass Jamming Etiquette – 7 Guidelines

Hello fellow banjo enthusiasts.

Learning how to play the banjo is one thing, but learning to play with others in a jam session is another.  Most students , especially beginners get intimidated when playing in front of other people at an open jam session.

Believe it or not, there are some general guidelines a person needs to follow when playing at a jam session.   Because they are guidelines, it means that not all players follow these  guidelines, BUT they should so that you can get the best sound from the participants.  When sitting in the circle :

1. Give everyone an equal chance to participate regardless of skill level.  We all started slow!

2. Use an orderly progression to take turns playing in the group. Either go clockwise or counterclockwise.

3. Play softly when others are singing or playing a break , this is important so everyone can hear and please don’t play a break on top of someone else.  It is more appropriate to use backup techniques.

4. Do not give instruction or correction to anyone unless they ask for it. If they do ask for help leave the group and find a secluded spot and allow the group to continue.  You are there to jam not, take a lesson!

5. If you play a significantly different style of music than Bluegrass, Gospel or Old Time Music or do not feel like you want to adhere to these guidelines try to find a room where you can pick with others of similar inclination.

6.  Please stop playing after each song to allow the next person some time to properly announce and begin the song they want to play.  This can be annoying to participants if they can’t hear what is going on.

7.  Have fun while you play. We are here to enjoy the music and each other’s company. Remember, be respectful of others and enjoy the music.

Hopes this helps.



How do I develop my own style of playing?

How do I develop my own style of playing?  This is a question that any serious banjo player will have to ask themselves at some point in time when they get tired of playing “tablature”.   In other words, you are getting tired of playing the way “someone else” plays.  Your particular style is based on several factors including the design of your hands.    So what exactly is a style?  WOW.

This can be a tricky question depending on the artist/player.  In the most simple form, each banjo player has their own style.  However other factors include techniques and methods used to accomplish the unique sound.  For example, Earl Scruggs had his style (3 finger) and so does Ralph Stanley (3 finger), Bill Keith (melodic), Don Reno (single string) and the list goes on.  These styles are really the “approach” to playing the banjo, because some player use all three approaches in their “style”.

Some banjo players develop their style by inventing some notable “licks”, such a JD Crowe, that are incorporated into their style of playing.

So back to the question of “How do I develop my own style of playing?”  The short answer is learning to play the basics of the banjo and then get rid of your tablature and start improvising the notes based on chord progressions of the song and how feel about the tone of melody.  The long answer is a lot of hard work and determination that will result in a unique style that others will enjoy when they hear you play.  Good luck as you continue to improve and work out your own style.



What to do when you are bored with practicing banjo rolls?

Hello students.  New students need to learn how to play banjo rolls as it is the foundation of learning how to play the banjo.  It builds the necessary “muscle memory” in your right hand as well as stretching your left hand when you incorporate the traditional G, C , D movement on the fingerboard.

But I have to admit it can get very boring.  In other postings, I have already mentioned that perseverance will lead to success.  So the question remains, how do I resolve the monotony that accompanies playing just the rolls over and over and over again. Because the rolls are so important to play them accurately with a “metronome” boredom is part of the beginners challenge to overcome with time and patience.  However, I do have a few suggestions that may help you alleviate your boredom.

1.  Practice shorter intervals more frequently.

2.  Practice sitting down, practice standing up practice while walking around.

3.  Practice with your eyes closed.

4.  Practice with the tablature, then practice without the tablature regularly

5.  Practice your timing by counting the 1& 2& 3& 4&

6.  Practice by using your right foot on the 1 and 3 beat.

7.  It is OK to skip a day or two especially when you have been working very hard.  You may find you come back even better.

8.  Practice a combination of techniques:  rolls, vamping, study chord patterns.

9.  Learn how to pick out a scale on a single string, using these steps:  1,  1,  1/2 , 1, 1 ,1, 1/2 which means:  whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step).

10.  Above all don’t give up!

I hope these little tips will help your practice be more interesting and less boring.


Why does it seem like I am not getting any better?

Hello students.  One question that always perplexes music students is this:  Why does it seem like I am not getting any better?  If it is of any comfort, when I was first learning to play, I was asking myself the same question to the point of saying:  “I guess I won’t ever learn how to play this instrument”.   So the good news is that if I can prevail and learn how to play the banjo, then so can you.  However, the biggest lesson learned is not to give up and be persistent!

Another lesson in learning is “repetition”, remember practice and practice and practice.  It can sometimes get boring but it is the only true way you will build your skills.   There is a CAUTION!!  Don’t practice using bad habits.  For example, don’t practice your rolls without anchoring your right hand to the banjo head and never practice without your picks.  It always helps to use a metronome frequently.  Don’t try to play fast until you can play slow.  The emphasis is on quality not speed.  It comes later.

We progress in phases.  For example the first phase is the “mechanical” phase which is basically getting all the movements using your hands and foot.  Then you move into an “emellishment” phase where you are using some playing techniques such as slides, pull-off and hammer-ons.   Next you move into the “Listening phase” where you have weaned yourself off of the “tablature” and are actually beginning to “feel” the music and you hands and feet are working sychronously with your foot.  Following that is the “contribution” phase where you are actually jamming with others and having fun with your instrument and adding some of your own style and getting invited to lots of events.

What phase do you think you are in? and can you now answer the question:  Why does it seem like I am not getting any better.


Blue Moon of Kentucky – a true classic


Here is a nice video of how the Father of Bluegrass, Mr Bill Monroe shows us how it is done.  Notice the song starts in 3/4 time and progresses to 4/4 time.  Each bluegrass banjo player should put this in their repertoire of songs.

When I first got into bluegrass music, I couldn’t really appreciate this song as it sounded kind of “real hillbilly” but now, I regard it as one of the best songs that Bill Monroe ever wrote.  The high lonesome sound is very common to the bluegrass genre of music. WOW!!  I hope you enjoy it and learn how to play it.  Let me know if you want me to teach you this one.

Using a Metronome – resolving timing issues?

Hello fellow banjo players.  Today I want to discuss the use of the metronome.  Over the years, I have found that many banjo students struggle with using the metronome.  We have to remember that the metronome is our friend and is a VERY IMPORTANT TOOL TO HELP SOLVE TIMING ISSUES.  This is especially important for beginner banjo students.

There are many styles of metronome available today.  I use a free one that is available on-line.  Whatever version you decide to use, you need to consider two key functions.  First is the volume.  Most banjos are loud and can easily drown out the metronome.  So I would get the loudest one you can afford.  Second is speed.  Make sure it has an easy way of adjusting the “beats per minute” or bpm.  Most bluegrass music is played at 120 bpm.   A third factor is to make sure your metronome has a plugin stereo headset feature. This enables you    to mute the “tick tock” for everyone else and gives you some clear sound in both ears which is good for concentration.  Here is a link for a free on-line metronome:  You have to click the windup handle to get it started.

Lastly I want to mention just a quick note about speed.  When learning new rolls, set you metronome at about 50 bpm and strike the string each time the metronome clicks.  This ensures you are building timing in from the very beginning.  Then you can gradually increase your speed up to 120 bpm.

Hope this is helpful.


Jump Start your Practice Session!

Any new banjo player will practice a variety of basis “rolls” which is foundational to advancing to more embellished techniques using slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs.  However during the beginning stages most players get “bored” with just practicing “rolls”.  As a matter of fact, most family members, get real tired of hearing you play the same thing over and over, perhaps thousands of times.

The remedy for this is a device called a “banjo mute”.  Of course their are a variety of models to choose from.  If you really want the “cheap” version you can take a paper napkin and roll it up to a size of a small cigar and place it under the strings just in front of the bridge.  It is amazing how this works and still enables you to practice without driving everyone else crazy.  So the next time you want to jump start your practice session, just “roll your own” mute and while you are doing that, use your metronome with a headset.  Wah-lah!  Peace in the family and you are on your way to improving your skills.


Have you hugged your banjo today?

Hi everyone.  I know that many of you love your banjo.  I often get asked what is a good starter banjo?  There are many starter banjos available but they range in quality and price.  I actually prefer the Deering Models and I lean toward the Good Time Special.  Here is the link to the Deering site: