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I am putty. I need a banjo sensei ...

Posted by Mr. Disco on Wednesday, February 21, 2007

... maybe someone to call me "Grass Hopper." 

At first when I approached the last section of Janet Davis'  You Can Teach Yourself Banjo" I was very intimidated going beyond the fifth fret. Last few nights, though, with a couple months under my belt doing my daily work from her Banjo Scales in Tab book and I'm able to be clean on one new tune a night -- just like when I started the book a year ago.  -- And there's only about five or six tunes left in the book for me to get under my belt.  -- So, I need a next step.  Here's where I'm at:

  • I played sax for 10 years through high school and played in jazz combos, jazz bands, orchestra, picked up some clarinet -- played soprano, alto, tenor, and bari and took lessons for four years.  Competition was stiff but I worked hard and sat lead or solo most of the time.  -- Had 7 or 8 students paying me at one point.  -- Haven't touched the sax 10 times since high school.
  • -- Bought the Iida 225 banjo for $150 in January of last year.  -- Bought Earl's book about a month later, worked on it until I hit the wall between his exercises and tab transcripts of his playing and bought Janet YCTYB.
  • I am having great fun with the banjo and am enjoying steady progress.  I spend over half an hour daily on scales, single-string, chords, and rolls, then site-read some, start on my newest tune with no metronome, put a metronome on it, and then work backwards to each of my most recent new songs.  Then I end with something I'm very familiar with, and finally some noodling.  I'm beginning to prepare myself for my first jam by learning at least the first three positions of common chords and am working on my vamping and chucking.
  • I am most interested in Scruggs style but want to be good with Reno and Keith-Thompson to lead me to Scruggs breaks.  It would be fun to put together a gospel tunes bluegrass band some day and I'd like to be able to play with my kids as they learn piano and guitar.  I'd love to parking lot jam at a festival some day.  I'd love to attend a half-day clinic or one- or two-day camp.  The Jones Family Folk school is in Lombard, Illinois 10 minutes from my house.  They have a one-month $75 deal that includes four lessons and one jam. Maybe I'll do that some day.
  • I need my next book.  Going back through Earl's exercises and Janet's YCTYB will keep me busy for only about another month.  My thoughts are either Janet's back-up or something from Tony Trischka -- like Hot Licks, Pete Wernick, Jack Hatfield, Murphy Henry, Bill Keith ...
  • I'm saving up for a Sullivan Festival, Recording King, or Gold Star.  It'll probably work out that when I can afford one (after I pay off my kids' piano), I won't mind hearing myself noodle on a nice banjo.  I ain't there yet.

Help me, please.  Where do I go from here?

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