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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Play Better Banjo Instructional Videos?

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olddreamer - Posted - 05/15/2020:  13:26:57

Is anyone familiar with the above instructional resource taught by Ryan Spearman in his Clawhammer 101 course? If so, I would appreciate your opinion. His free stuff is pretty good, but I'm curious about the paid stuff.

I have pretty much narrowed my choices down to Ryan, Cathy Fink, or Brainjo. I know you can have more than one paid resource but there are budget considerations (at least for now).

blazo - Posted - 05/15/2020:  19:20:24

I think the best resource online is Tom Collins Banjo Quest. It's not really a video based instructional program but Tom does release a couple short vids each week. He delves deeply into the subject at hand and is very thorough.

I like his approach to teaching and it feels much more personal than other video based subscriptions.

I've done some Cathy stuff via Trufire and have done some of both Brainjo and Ryan's stuff. I keep coming back to Tom because I feel a connection there that I don't with the others.

Tom's not gonna teach you a new tune every week, more like one a month, but he continually drops tid bits that are really useful and helpful.

I find the other online programs take a lot of motivation and self discipline while Tom just drops stuff in your lap a couple times a week. Rather than making myself focus on one specific lesson at a time ( as with the other programs) ,Tom magically appears on my phone or computer a couple times each week and I really look forward to and eagerly anticipate hearing from him.

You can get details on Tom's program at

olddreamer - Posted - 05/16/2020:  05:39:28

@blazo Thanks much. I will definitely check this teacher out.

gratefulbiker - Posted - 05/16/2020:  05:47:23

I've sampled some of Ryan's free stuff and got along OK with it. His lesson packs maybe seem a little pricey compared to the other popular online instructors.
I try to pull from as many sources as I can including the popular stuff like Brainjo, Tom Collins, Hilarie Burhans, etc, but my go to for the last few months has been Lukas Pool. For $20 a month you get full access to all the lessons as well as a private Facebook group for students. The lessons are mostly tune tutorials, but Lukas offers enough variations within the tune to keep most players challenged and a little bit of theory to help understand why those variations work.

olddreamer - Posted - 05/16/2020:  05:52:18

Thanks a lot.

Marendelas - Posted - 05/17/2020:  01:15:50

. I find Ryan Spearman a teacher with the engaging knack of inspiring me to keep my nose to the grindstone, and would reccommend him to any beginner for that reason.

olddreamer - Posted - 05/17/2020:  14:47:53

That's my impression of him, too, from the free stuff. Thanks.

tpotpie - Posted - 05/18/2020:  12:20:18

There are many great resources online and I have learned so much from the free lessons on YouTube. Hilarie Burhans, Josh at Brainjo, Tom Collins, Clifton Hicks...All fantastic and very different styles of play and teaching. Your question was about Ryan Spearman's paid courses and I would highly recommend them. He has the "5 days to Better Banjo" course that is free, and you can get a sense of the quality and style of his lessons there. I am currently taking his "Perfect Practice Course " and finding it very useful and I have also bought his "Lesson Pack key of A" which was great and well worth the money. You might also like Peghead Nation's courses. They charge a monthly fee. I took Evie Ladin's class there and learned a lot and find her teaching style very clear and accessible. Enjoy!

olddreamer - Posted - 05/18/2020:  13:07:55

Thanks for your informative response.

Alegria - Posted - 05/20/2020:  00:40:40

I have bought almost all of his lesson packs and never regretted it. He is always available on email, you can ask him anything and he is always super nice and inspiring. A great teacher! The biggest value is learning about his arrangements. He offers each tune with one melodically correct and complex arrangement and another where the focus is rhythm and simplicity.

If there's anything I would critize him for it's maybe that his lessons are too tab based. I like shorter lessons where the teacher focus on learning melodic phrases slowly. Ryan teaches bar per bar. I would prefeer if he maybe just played about 4 bars a time instead. Bigger chunks. But, he is extremely thorough and precise in explaining every note transition!

olddreamer - Posted - 05/20/2020:  06:35:47

Thanks much!

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