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Aug 21, 2014 - 11:58:20 AM

9 posts since 8/12/2014

Rob I've only just seen this topic, I started a thread on this tune by your's not the best and there are a few mistakes but I'm stating with it. Your a great teacher so a big thanks from the UK (I need to stop looking at my right hand)

PS I saw the duelling banjos video you did playing banjo and guitar at the same time...can I feel a lesson coming on?
Aug 21, 2014 - 11:33:49 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008


My mom insisted that I do Dueling Banjos for her. I faked it. I don't think I ever learned it properly.

I'm glad to help. I am impressed with the amount of 5 string players in the UK. I have a lot of Skype students from there and they are very talented. It reminds me of the spike in popularity bluegrass enjoyed here in the 60s and 70s.

Aug 29, 2014 - 12:29:33 PM



1 posts since 7/27/2013

Hi Rob, I came across your videos here on Banjo Hangout and they have been great! I bought a banjo a year ago, sort of worked on it slowly learning rolls, but really only started getting serious with practice about 4 months ago and in the past two months I've worked through your Cripple Creek and Old Joe Clark. Am just now getting Old Joe Clark up to speed and am working through Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

I want to add my thanks to you for these wonderful videos. They have gotten me much further along than any other method, especially when training myself. I recently moved from the US to Berlin, Germany, where there aren't really any options (that I'm aware of) for good banjo teachers. I'm hoping to at least find some fellow musicians to start playing with and will likely go to Banjo camp near Munich next year.

Anyway, thanks!! I'm looking forward to working through all of your lessons that you've so kindly put up.

I'm also starting to build my own banjo with Stew Mac components to upscale from my Deering Goodtime.


Nov 28, 2014 - 1:47:16 PM

137 posts since 7/16/2014

Good stuff Rob. I like to listen to you play. Your speed is incredible. Thanks again.

Mar 11, 2015 - 2:25:05 PM

17 posts since 3/9/2015

I'm brand new to playing the banjo. I got one for Christmas and then bought some DVD lessons from Ross Nickerson, they are really good. I've been crushing the finger rolls at fast speeds with out mistakes, and have been doing chords and fretting. I then found THIS website and the cool lessons given by Rob. I picked up on the first part of the FMB but the part that is killing me is the hammer on. The picking is easy and I can keep up. Not sure what I'm doing wrong, I can hit chords without making mistakes but when I hammer on, I deafen the first string when I start the ITMI roll in the beginning of the FMB. I've tried cranking my wrist to awkward positions so my finger are coming straight down but it still doesn't work. Its frustrating.

Sep 14, 2015 - 9:36:14 PM

162 posts since 9/14/2015

Originally posted by jahenbo

Hey Rob,
First off thanks for putting FMB on Youtube. I was wondering if there is someway to download these to the computer so I can work with them without being online. See I travel a lot and don't always have access. I tried with Realplayer SP but got a message that the clip couldn't be downloaded from that site. Any help would be appreciated and would like to see more of your lessons if you have more could you send me a list to
Thanks Jay

"The real Voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes"
Marcel Proust

Hey jahenbo
There are many ways to download videos from you tube to save on your pc for later use the best way is to use an site that does it for you. Otherwise you have to use a browser add on to do so. Warning video files are Extremely Large and will take up a lot of room on your hard drive but if you have the room I say go for it. I may be new to Banjo's but not to computers. here is a link that will help you out.,2817,2476563,00.asp

Sep 21, 2015 - 9:59:39 PM
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3 posts since 9/21/2015

Is foggy mountain breakdown a good song for someone who bought a banjo a week ago?
Sep 22, 2015 - 12:02:28 AM



3274 posts since 2/7/2008

I'd advise to learn a song that has a melody you like and sounds good when played slowly. Amazing Grace was the first song that really worked for me.

Sep 22, 2015 - 8:19:46 AM
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360 posts since 11/7/2008

Good advice, Joe.

Many people start learning bluegrass rolls and developing a repertoire before they learn how to pick a simple melody. I have students who have been playing bluegrass for over 40 years and have memorized hundreds of tunes, yet they still can't play a simple song like "Happy Birthday" without working it out.

Learning simple melodies by ear and noodling around with tunes like Little Brown Jug, London Bridge, Down In The Valley, Amazing Grace or any other simple melody you know well in your head is step one.

Most players skip this step.

Sep 25, 2015 - 2:45:50 AM



3760 posts since 6/17/2003

Originally posted by banjocoolin

Is foggy mountain breakdown a good song for someone who bought a banjo a week ago?

The long answer: No. wink  Really.

Oct 22, 2015 - 4:54:30 PM

1 posts since 10/14/2015

Thank you so much for the access to your video lessons. I have been trying to learn to play for a long time, and your instruction addresses
all the pitfalls and roadblocks I have come across that have stopped me in the past. You are an excellent teacher, and hands down my
favorite U2 player!

Nov 28, 2015 - 3:38:38 AM



914 posts since 2/15/2014

I learnt this from Rob and even though I could play it I just did not get the connection between DTN & UTN until I watched Richard Dress on you tube "Foggy Mountain Breakdown (Exploring up the neck) " then the light came on..

Thanks to Rob and Richard.

Dec 11, 2015 - 6:03:40 AM

4 posts since 12/11/2015

Brand new to the banjo, first video I watched for cripple creek was very over complicated, but Rob, your videos make it so much easier. Thank you so much, I can't wait to get home to start it with your method!

Peace from London!
Dec 11, 2015 - 8:12:18 AM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

Glad to help out Moowee. I have had a lot of changes in the last several years that haven't let me do as much as I would like. I am hopefully going to get back to some more in 2016.

Edited by - Rob Bourassa on 12/11/2015 08:13:00

May 24, 2016 - 4:59:50 PM

3 posts since 3/14/2015

quote:Thank you for your generosity in making these videos.  I would love to buy a DVD with these lessons if you ever decide to make some.  Let me know!  P.S. I am a rookie just learning on my own.
Originally posted by Rob Bourassa

Hello friends,

I don't post often, because I am pretty swamped most of the time, but I had a request from several people to post the order of my latest lesson series here, due to the fact that my Youtube page is not allowing me to link the lessons in the normal fashion, and folks want to be able to go through them in order.

This will help beginners learn how to memorize without tab, and also aid them in practice routines, such as isolation and repetition.

I have already put out lessons for Cripple Creek and Old Joe Clark, and the links below are for Foggy Mountain Breakdown. There is no charge, and I'm not selling videos or tab, but I have had a Youtube channel for awhile, where I teach guitar, and I have had requests to throw in a couple of banjo numbers.

For beginners who haven't learned to figure out tunes by ear, this is a good way to get away from reliance on tab.

Intro for Foggy Mountain Breakdown




















This is in slow motion, and contains the practice videos, so you can build up speed and clarity.

Hope it helps.



For beginners, here is Cripple Creek.

Cripple Creek;















Aug 2, 2016 - 7:19:08 PM
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360 posts since 11/7/2008

I am going to record a less rudimentary turn for Foggy Mountain Breakdown this week. I will post here. I have had so much trouble with getting back up to par after my computer crash. All new software to learn. It has been a busy year for me with concerts as well. I am just getting a slow down in my work, since it's summer so I will be doing a few vids, the most waited for, (besides the high part) is the truncated forward roll that I have made more accessible to the beginning level player by using the index of the right hand at the fourth string.

It is much easier for the beginning student to keep a forward roll going when they are trying to get speed. I developed this because the 5th string open and the third string open are both G, and it is almost indiscernible at a fast speed, which is hard to develop when putting on the brakes and going back to the third on the 3,5,1,3,1,3, 4p/o pattern instead of just continuing on with a 3,1,5,3,1,5, 4p/o pattern. It does sound better the first way but I get students from 0 to 80 faster with the second.

Rather than trying to explain it here, I am simply going to record it later this week and add an exercise here that will enable the player who already has the song at a good clip to add the one difference in the right hand that will make it a bit more Scruggs sounding, though will slow them down a bit.

I will get to it later this week. I'm only telling you about it now because I have had a lot of folks e-mailing me privately and I've been spending just as much time answering e-mails as it would take to just record the lesson. I was going to do it tonight, but I need to change those strings first. I haven't done so for over two years.

Aug 2, 2016 - 8:09:34 PM

283 posts since 1/7/2016

Looking forward to the new videos Rob! I haven't started work on FMB yet but, have watched your previous videos on it. I really like your arrangements and way of teaching and feel they will serve me well when I'm ready to learn it. Thank you for taking the time to do and share all of this with us!
Aug 8, 2016 - 8:42:05 AM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

The video is done. I am editing a bit still. We had a death in the family. My daughter in law's grandmother passed away, so this will be put out tomorrow.

Aug 8, 2016 - 12:05:56 PM
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13 posts since 3/26/2012

Hey Rob. Thanks for your continued help and instruction on this song. And much respect and sympathy for the passing of your daughter inlaw's grandmother.

But I've spent well over 100's hours playing your version of this song and just doesn't sound like the intended song. The forward roll doesn't come out right. So I am looking forward to your new rendition. I realize they never wrote sheet music on this song. So I appreciate your interpretation. Thanks!

Aug 8, 2016 - 1:09:06 PM
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360 posts since 11/7/2008

I have explained that many times. It was a lesson for a less advanced player, because frankly, advanced players usually already know Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

The forward roll stops at the first string and backs up to the third, which makes it hard for a less experienced player to build up any speed. As a teacher I have watched countless students struggle with that, slowing down and playing sloppy through that part, so I arranged a less complicated version that allowed them to keep the forward roll going. Their speed processed enough to allow them to play it at a performance rate, which at the end of the day made them happier than doing it poorly.

Then, they would contact me because they wanted Skype lessons and when they had reached a certain amount of proficiency, I would have them relearn a few notes in Foggy Mountain Breakdown which they played well, but immediately had problems with speed because I had them do it in a more Scruggs like, truncated forward roll, instead of the continual forward roll.

I have to make up separate videos for everyone to show the difference one at a time, so I thought I would share it with everyone.

The truth is, I never expected as many people to learn the song this way. I developed it for intermediate players who wanted to perform but couldn't achieve performance tempo. I put it here as a simple lesson for a couple of people. I have always said, Earl Scruggs sells a book, which is a very good book. If anyone wants to learn it just as Earl did, they can buy that book. My goal has been to help players improve their ability to memorize by losing the tab, to play extemporaneously and develop improvisation by developing variation in their patterns and also to help their technique improve.

The lessons I did were built around that goal. I don't come here often because I don't have the time to discuss that fact again and again but I do realize that nobody has the time to read all of the posts that date back so far that I can't even remember 1% of the comments. I am always sympathetic to those who have questions about this stuff, so I made this vid to help answer as many of those as I can.

Again, I am not going to publish videos on the high part. I would always support the estate of Earl Scruggs in profiting however possible in the sales of whatever instruction materials they have to offer.


Edited by - Rob Bourassa on 08/08/2016 13:11:16

Aug 10, 2016 - 7:47:57 AM
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360 posts since 11/7/2008

Here's an addition to my Foggy Mountain Breakdown banjo lessons. The forward roll is uninterrupted in my arrangement to allow an intermediate student to pick up the tempo to a recognizable speed. Once the speed is mastered in the uninterrupted roll, we can put on the breaks and back the roll up and incorporate that into the lesson. It slows things down at first but eventually, it should be fairly easy.

I tried to make a link here, but the link refuses to attach itself after filling out the prompter, so you can just copy and paste into your browser.

Edited by - Rob Bourassa on 08/10/2016 07:54:11

Aug 14, 2016 - 4:13:38 PM

13 posts since 3/26/2012

Thanks Rob!  I like the new forward roll video.  I can tell the difference.  

Aug 14, 2016 - 6:20:15 PM

360 posts since 11/7/2008

You are more than welcome. I hope it is helpful. I am finishing more videos this week.

Sep 24, 2016 - 1:05:34 PM



201 posts since 8/20/2006

I am just now comfortable with the banjo that I am trying to learn this. Thank you so much.

This may seem like a simple stupid question but......

When you go to the hammer on the 4th string (1st fret to 2nd) you pluck the string with the index and explain that you do this because you just finish the forward roll on the 5th string with your thumb. I get that and it makes sense.

However, going back to the start, you hit 2nd string with the two hammer ons (2nd to 3rd) with your thumb, then jump to the fifth with your thumb. Using the above logic, why would you not start the 2nd string hammer on with your index so your thumb is free to start the roll?

As I said it maybe a simple stupid question, I'm just curious. Am I wrong in thinking you use the thumb on the first hammer on for drive?

Thanks again for your time and effort in making all these videos. I'm enjoying them so far. Wife can't wait for me to be able to play this. Hope I live that long!

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