Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Jam Skills Checklist & Yes I have a Black Spark Tuner

Posted by Boadicea on Monday, February 5, 2018

like this

I have a lesson tomorrow, and I am really excited about it. I have had a fraught three weeks with lack of banjo playing time, being away, and having to cancel two lessons! So I am pumped for tomorrow.

So yes I have a black Spark Tuner, I obviously wrote an unclear blog post last time, as I bought it ages ago, when @n1wr Wayne suggested that I do so. Yes I am still learning how to tune my banjo with my electronic tuner. My enthusiasm is high, but my skills are still slowly building up. (And yes to be able to jam you need to be able to tune your banjo LOL! That is definitely on the list).

I am looking at skills for jamming, and I am a much less advanced player than most here, as I am a real newbie, but having goals is fun, and I am excited to be working towards getting it together to play with others. so are there any other skills that anyone suggests that I acquire? I would also love to read about your first or early jamming experiences, and the times you had the most fun jamming with others. I really enjoyed reading @WayneConrad's post about "sloppy playing" and playing in a band, that was quite fascinating. 


Listening to a radio interview with Abigail Washburn and Bèla Fleck. 

Interestingly Abigail talks about how she came to write "Shotgun Blues". and Abigail talks about her way of playing clawhammer. Bèla Fleck talks about being a Bluegrass player.


I hope your practising, playing, noodling on and thinking about your banjo/s is bringing you joy and happiness.

6 comments on “Jam Skills Checklist & Yes I have a Black Spark Tuner”

WayneConrad Says:
Monday, February 5, 2018 @12:13:43 AM

Kate, I'm glad you enjoyed that.

I like that checklist. Unlike so many that get posted to BHO, that one is constructive and useful (many of them are just lists of gripes and are really intended to cut down those who aren't experts).

I'll post about my jamming experience when I can. I'm not very good at jamming, just a beginner at it myself.

Boadicea Says:
Monday, February 5, 2018 @12:29:11 AM

Beginner's comments are good for me WayneConrad as I can relate to them as I am a real newbie! :)

n1wr Says:
Monday, February 5, 2018 @4:35:24 AM

Boadicea Kate - you should be able to use a capo. Put a capo on the second fret, for example, and you are now playing in the key of A. Do you have spikes on your banjo (to capo the fifth string)? You need that also. Ask your teacher. Fiddle players and mandolin players like the keys of A and D, both which you can play more easily if you capo at the second fret. Of course there is more to using a capo than this. Ask your teacher.

Also - if you are comfortable singing, learn three or four songs that you can sing and play along, even if you just vamp, or even if you can't play along. There will be plenty of backup players that know the common songs - pick a song with simple chord changes. When it comes your turn (they typically go round the circle, and each player takes turn leading a song), announce what song you will sing, in what key you want to sing it, and kick it off if you can. A simple way to do a kick-off (e.g. in the key of G) is to play one measure of D, one measure of C, one or two measures of G and launch into the song. Hope that makes sense. I didn't spend a lot of time on the website for your jam - look for a song list - they typically will list the most common songs that come up in their jams. I don't know what an Australian song list looks like. Haha. Lonnie Donnagen comes to mind. Does you're Chewing Gum Loose Its Flavor On The Bedpost Over Night is playing in my head! I know - I'm bad. As I said, pick a couple that you know, that have simple chord changes, and you can sing in a comfortable key.

There is a subtle hint here. Jams typically focus on singing songs - and playing along. We as beginners tend to focus on instrumental songs. So there is, as I said, a subtle shift - you need to think about the songs you would like to sing, and learn the break that goes with it. If you are good at picking out the melody of a song on your banjo, the next step is to fit the melody into the rolls you play.

Hope this helps.

n1wr Says:
Monday, February 5, 2018 @8:16:20 AM

Kate - I just looked at the web site. It is a Pete Wernick sponsored jam - that is a really good thing. The materials he has available will really help you. This is a great way to extend your fun playing the banjo!

When I was starting out I got his Jamming for beginners DVD - it helped a lot.

Boadicea Says:
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 @1:41:28 AM

:) n1wr I am thinking of buying that one! Thanks for the feedback Wayne!

Northlyn Says:
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 @5:53:09 AM

This is an interesting conversation with good advice and I want to read the referenced items.

Go Kate!

You must sign into your myHangout account before you can post comments.

More posts from Boadicea

Newest Posts

More >  

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories