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The Joy of Being an Absolute Beginner

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Jul 22, 2019 - 9:29 PM
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66 posts since 4/17/2014

I've learned so much from BHO and I thought beginners may appreciate an article I wrote for the Deering blog. In short, it is never to late to start and sometimes having no experience or musical knowledge can be an asset because you aren't fighting old habits and you have no preconceived ideas.

Jul 22, 2019 - 10:15:14 PM

796 posts since 11/17/2018

Well done.

Jul 23, 2019 - 3:28:59 AM
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3207 posts since 7/12/2006

I get you. The thing i miss the most about being a beginner is the fire that was lit under me. I couldn't get enough banjo! Those days when id practice for 5 or more hours and just see my progress unfold. Im.settled in now and dont have to put in the time i used to have to to learn new stuff unless it's something beyond what im used to doing. Ahhh the good ol days..........

Jul 23, 2019 - 4:48:02 AM
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3145 posts since 12/6/2009

You bet, the things I hate most about not being a beginner is, the frustrations, the cheap banjo that didn’t sound like Earls, the skin head that sagged when it was raining, the broken 5th strings cause I didn’t have spikes or sliding capo, I had to ride my bike or hitch hike 8 miles to the nearest music store for new strings only to find they didn’t have them that day. Also all the wrong information I was given that gave me bad habits that took me years to correct. The fact there were no banjo teachers in the area within a hundred miles or so. Those pains that kept asking me to play Tom Dooly……all the hours I spent in my bedroom and all those pretty girls I didn’t know that were in love with me. The social life I destroyed and my poor mom and sisters who put up with me….and that poor beagle I had that scratched at the door to go out rain sleet or snow when I picked up the banjo…..yep I miss them beginning days….only trouble is ….I still got them “beginning days”

Jul 23, 2019 - 5:11:17 AM
Players Union Member



1340 posts since 8/8/2012

Excellent blog post, I get them via email from Deering. Keep picking.

Jul 23, 2019 - 5:40:58 AM
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2498 posts since 2/16/2017

Good article. For a raw beginner, I think obtaining a good teacher is probably the single most important thing a student can do for themselves to ensure success.

Jul 23, 2019 - 6:28:39 AM

10513 posts since 2/12/2011

Nice - make that metronome your friend

Jul 24, 2019 - 8:00:59 AM

102 posts since 7/5/2011

GREAT POST! Thanks~! It is encouraging me to restart.

Jul 24, 2019 - 8:26:19 AM



7865 posts since 10/5/2006

It's also interesting and a strong reminder when we go and pick up another instrument as an absolute beginner.

I teach banjo and for the last 18 months have also myself been having weekly lessons on a second instrument starting as an absolute beginner. It's refreshing, good for empathy and really interesting to be simultaneously experiencing the same or similar learning challenges as my banjo students.

Edited by - m06 on 07/24/2019 08:27:41

Jul 24, 2019 - 5:13:25 PM

154 posts since 6/22/2012

I used to watch Hee Haw as a kid as well, just waiting for a banjo to come out.
the corny jokes were funny if you hadn't hear them before, and the barbershop was hilarious.

Later I appreciated the Hee Haw Honeys as well, but is was mostly the banjo.

Man it's been a long time, I just picked this up again, revisiting my childhood.

Jul 25, 2019 - 5:23:20 AM

102 posts since 7/5/2011

For me it was the Andy Griffith show and the Darlings (The Dillards) - THAT really got me hooked. I have a ton of family in Sparta, NC that I sadly didn't see much as a kid, so many were and are great Bluegrass players so I know it is in my blood. These are the nicest people in the world. My mom even used to sing on the local radio station!

I got my banjo out and decided to start with Jim Pankey video number 1. I really like his style and he seems easy to follow. I am really looking forward to going at this again with a more fun, relaxed approach. I have a Gold Tone BG-250FW, it sounds good tomy ear, but that thing is heavy!

Jul 28, 2019 - 12:00:45 PM



11457 posts since 2/7/2008

Originally posted by FlyinEagle

Good article. For a raw beginner, I think obtaining a good teacher is probably the single most important thing a student can do for themselves to ensure success.

I think the operative word here is "good".  A poor teacher could be worse than just learning out of a well recommended book. I lost track of how many students came to me from another local "banjo"  teacher who was actually a drummer and would sell them a book and weekly tell them to do the next lesson in it.  We have all read stories on the Hangout of teachers with a different agenda than the student.

Today we have options of Online lessons through skype etc,  if we live far from good teachers. Optionally driving far for one lesson a month from a good teacher could be better than weekly lessons from a poor one nearby.

Jul 28, 2019 - 1:02:35 PM

27 posts since 12/3/2017

Good article. I’m a beginner looking at 2 years next month. I learned the hard way to resist the urge to move ahead of where my teacher wanted me at the time. I was a hammerhead ??
and payed the price LOL.

Jul 29, 2019 - 11:07:16 AM

154 posts since 6/22/2012

What did you try to play that you felt set you back?

Jul 29, 2019 - 3:14:29 PM

354 posts since 1/28/2013

Or if you told somebody you played the banjo, the first thing that came to mind was Stringbean, or Grandpa Jones playing "Good Ole Mountain Dew" or the only song they ever heard on the banjo was "Ballad of Jed Clampett". It started to change in the mid 70's, but still was not considered the serious instrument it is today.

Edited by - jan dupree on 07/29/2019 15:14:58

Jul 29, 2019 - 8:02:52 PM

1408 posts since 6/4/2007

LOL! There is a typo:

I’m now five plus years into my banjo journey. Along the way, I have learned the vocabulary of Scruggs style and, as I have become more fluent, my learning speed has increased. My musical tastes have broadened and, I as I listened to banjo heroes old and new, my appreciation has grown and my ear has improved.

Great article though.

Edited by - Froglips on 07/29/2019 20:05:42

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