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Hello World.

Posted by loukiii on Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I got my first banjo for Christmas when I was 10 years old. My mother's boyfriend bought it for me for a Christmas present. Of course I didn't get any lessons, or picks or anything like that. I do remember I got a book though. I messed around with it for a few days and broke a string I seem to recall and never played it because I couldn't figure it out. Then when they broke up, he took the banjo with him. Dirty rotten $&@^@$#%! 

Fast forward 34 years later. I decided it was high time I learned how to play a banjo. I had been wanting to for years but had no idea where to start. Where do I get a banjo? How much do they cost? What kind do I need etc. I knew I wanted a 5 string resonator but that was about it. I found this site. Looked at the reviews. I went to Sam Ash to see what they had in stock, then came back here and read the reviews on what they had. I decided on an Epiphone MB200. I got that and a Mel Bay banjo method book with a dvd. 

First thing I learned that actually sounded like a banjo sound was an alternating thumb roll. I rolled and rolled for hours until my family wanted to kill me, and rolled some more. I kept at it on my own for about 3 months. I learned G C and D chords, pull offs, hammer on, slide etc. Tom Dooley, Good Night Ladies and that was about it.

I decided I needed a teacher. It was next to impossible to find a banjo teacher in Tampa Florida. I went to every music store I could find. Nobody knew of any banjo teachers. Guitar teachers are a dime a dozen. But nobody even knew of a banjo teacher. I called and emailed a place that supposedly was a bluegrass place, but they were out of business. Again I looked on here. I emailed a banjo teacher on here but nothing. Finally about 3 weeks later I got an email from the teacher I found on here. She was on vacation and just got back. She arranged for me to meet for a lesson. 

At my first lesson she wanted to see what I knew. I told her I could spell banjo and knew which end was up but that was about it. She showed me stuff that I had already learned and I explained that I had a book and I knew a few things but start at the beginning. By the end of the first lesson I knew I had made a very wise decision to get a teacher and was very fortunate to get such a good one.

Now a year later, I can play about 20 songs. I can do some basic improvisation, and I go to jams every chance (weekly)  I get and I'm still soaking up knowledge like a dry sponge. Seems like just when I start to get bored and start to lose interest, I'll figure out something new, or my teacher will challenge me with a more difficult lick or whatever and It gets interesting and fun again.

Nice to meet you. 

5 comments on “Hello World.”

kevinwholmes Says:
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 @4:27:46 AM

Nice going! I started playing in my mid-50's and wish I hadn't waited so long, but it took moving from CT to NC to be exposed to banjos first-hand and learn that there are a number of different styles, including 2-finger, which I now play, which apparently is mostly concentrated around central NC and parts of VA.

Karen Kruske Says:
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 @5:42:27 AM

Howdy Louis, guess you confirm the idea that teachers are a good thing. Glad you are enjoying the music you are making and being challenged to move ahead. Have fun and keep pickin'. -Karen

erikforgod Says:
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 @5:45:06 AM

You said:

"It was next to impossible to find a banjo teacher in Tampa Florida."

I am surprised! I lived in the Orlando area for almost 30 years...there are several really good banjo pickers kinda sorta in your direction...(Polk Co and Lake Co areas ) how long ago was this?
This was a great read...enjoyed it!

loukiii Says:
Wednesday, August 3, 2011 @6:45:29 AM

July of 2010 I started looking for a place to take lessons. I had my first lesson in August 11th, 2010 (Wow, not even a year yet). Now that I am kind of involved in the local scene, I see that there are a lot of banjo pickers. Still if your an outsider, they are kind of hard to find. Once you get involved though, you cant swing a cat by the tail without hitting another banjo picker. Still I only know of 2 teachers in my area and I am very pleased with the one I have.

RatLer Says:
Thursday, August 4, 2011 @3:56:46 PM

I've had alot of things swung at me, but never a cat...LOL Welcome to the Hangout!!

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