The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!
7063 reviews in the archive.
I've been learning from Casey Henry's recorded video lessons for about a year. Mostly her "intermediate" arrangements, which are more fun to play than the simpler arrangements I'd been learning previously from tab. I'm learning songs much faster than I used to and I leave the tabs and the music stand at home these days when I go to a jam. Looking forward to continuing with the "Murphy Method". Thanks, Casey!
Overall Rating: 10
I picked up a banjo for the very first time in April 2011. In June 2011, I attended my first Midwest Banjo Camp, and took one of the beginner sessions taught by Murphy Henry ("the Murphy Method"). After camp was over, what I found was that the tune she workshopped with us, and the techniques, stuck with me easily. Pretty much everything else, I had to go back to my notes and work through again. This amazed me!
I use Twitter, so I started to follow Murphy's daughter Casey. One night, on an out-of-the-blue whim, I sent a message to Casey -- 'would you take me on?' She said yes! Since I had done the message mostly tongue-in-cheek, I was a bit taken aback, but felt I surely had to go through with this. I have NO regrets.
Now, I live in northern Michigan -- Casey lives in northern VA. No way can I travel for a once-a-week lesson 4 states away! So we do our lessons via Skype. The technology limits us a bit -- we cannot play at the same time. But still, it has been an extremely worthwhile experience.
Like Murphy, Casey teaches by ear. I also have a local teacher who teaches by tab. Here is what I have found: learning with Casey has given me a much greater understanding, more quickly, than learning by tab. I have learned more songs, more thoroughly, in a few months with Casey than I did in a year of working from tab.
Here is how I think it works for me: when I learn from tab -- which isn't hard for me; I cannot remember *not* being able to read music, and reading tab is way easier -- there is a "middle phase" if you will. I have to recall how the tab looked on the page, translate that to rolls and left-hand technique, then play. When I learn through the Murphy Method, I simply learn how this goes on the banjo, period. This has given me a much greater understanding, and a much greater comfort level, of the banjo as an instrument. I feel so much more 'at home' on the banjo now!
Aside from the learning-by-ear technique, there are also lots of things which separate a good teacher from a poor one. Just knowing how to make excellent widgets does NOT make one a good widget-teacher, as an analogy. To be a good teacher, you must
--know how to break the skill down into small "learning chunks";
--recognize typical novice obstacles;
--devise ways for novices to overcome those obstacles;
--provide appropriate feedback (supportive, corrective, etc.) in an appropriate way and time;
--etc., etc. !
There is a LOT to being a good teacher -- Casey has it all. Since she can teach via Skype, you do not have to be geographically close. If you have the opportunity to take lessons remotely, or to participate in a workshop or camp with Casey, I would recommend her! You won't be sorry.
Overall Rating: 10
'Pair of 00’s' 14 min
'Easy Resonator' 1 hr