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Tired of tab

Posted by wkb28791 on Friday, July 3, 2009

Things have slowed down quite abit and once again, I'm getting more opportunity to pick up my banjo. The problem is that I rely almost totally on tablature until I learn the song. Of course, I only know the one version.

I'd like to be able to listen to a tune and come up with my own arrangement. I'd also like to learn how to write a song. I'm thinking about taking some lessons with a local picker and music store operator by the name of Patrick Mcdougal. Patrick currently plays in the High Windy Band and I think he's good. I plan to get into contact with Patrick and see if he has any openings.

I'm getting tired of piddling with my banjo at home and not finding and getting involved in Jam sessions. I'd love to host jam sessions at my home and maybe even working up to getting good enough to play in a band.

If I don't get any better, I'm gonna sell my banjos. No use keeping instruments and not playing them.

5 comments on “Tired of tab”

Texasbanjo Says:
Friday, July 3, 2009 @12:12:19 PM

It's not really difficult to learn to play by ear.  Listen to a song over and over until you can sing or hum the melody, then try to pick just the MELODY notes out on the banjo.  Once you have the melody, figure out the chord structure (or you can do that first by listening to the song and vamping along), then try putting a roll around the melody notes, sliding into a melody note, using a hot lick at the end of a musiclal phrase.  Once you've done this a few dozen times, you'll find musical "patterns" for melody notes that you can use over and over.

Keep working at it, it will come to you.

PruchaLegend Says:
Friday, July 3, 2009 @8:16:50 PM

Janet Davis has a good book titled "Splitting the Licks" that teaches you how to write your own breaks. Basically it is a book that tells you how to do what Texasbanjo just said.

Building Blocks for Bluegrass Jamming for 5-String Banjo Book/CD, Introducing the "Cut n Paste" Method Vol. 1
by Wil Huckabay
.  This is a good book to teach you how to fake a solo. It does not teach you how to play the melody of a song. Here's a URL to get the book. I have it and like it a lot.

Hope these help a little.

fixdent Says:
Saturday, July 4, 2009 @4:41:11 AM

I think your feeling the same as most of us 3 or 4 year 'beginner" banjo pickers.  I have found that playing with a few friends really picks up your improvising....


mebacon Says:
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 @7:18:40 PM

Dear Ken,
I just ran across this and thought I would throw my two cents in. I've only been playing for a year so you have a lot more experience than me. However, I have been taking private lessons from Murphy Henry all that time. I am just completing her Improvising DVD and it seems like that might work for you. It would get you away from the tab if that is what you want and she is a fabulous teacher.
If you are ever over Fayetteville way, I love to play. Also, you might look at NC Banjo Clinic. It is so close to you and the teachers are so great and you could play, and play, and play.

All the best,

Marty Bacon

Tom Smith Says:
Sunday, February 21, 2010 @5:57:09 AM

I've heard this about guitar, but it applies to any instrument.
There's two steps to playing well by ear ...
1) Learn to play whatever you can hum, and
2) Learn to hum good.

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