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Feb 11, 2021 - 8:17:36 AM
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3460 posts since 3/12/2006

Hi All,
What a crazy year already! Good for taking skype live in person over the web lessons to improve your skill or start "From Scratch". I have room for 2 more students this spring. Contact me by PM and lets see what we can do!

PS, Planning a trip east this summer! If workshops start happening again, I will try to give one or two.

Play Nice,
Dan Levenson
Author of Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch and  Fiddle From Scratch - Mel Bay Publications

Feb 11, 2021 - 5:08:31 PM
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3989 posts since 3/11/2004

I have told this story several times here over the years, so I apologize to any veteran BHOers who may suffer through the repetition.

Dan Levenson helped me in major ways to become the clawhammer player I had hoped to be. In 2004, I was a volunteer at IBMA in Louisville, the last year that Louisville hosted the meeting. Dan Levenson and Bob Carlin were both in attendance, and I had several conversations with both. The following year or so, I signed up for a weekend camp with Dan in Vernia, OH. I had been sitting in the back row of the volunteer band at weekly contra dances in Louisville. I was learning new tunes, but I was stuck and unable to play at dance tempo. The weekend workshop with Dan was relaxed, and Dan was helpful. The bottom line is that I left that weekend a worse player than when I came. But keep reading. . .  

Yes, I was a worse player becauser I saw I needed to addressn at least 3 or 4 self-taught bad habits that kept me from growing my skills. Dan help me become aware of these and showed me how to address them. One was my active thumb on the 5th string. I was a Travis-style guitar fingerpicker and accustomed to laying down a base beat with my thumb. That motion was totally wrong for clawhammer. My downstroke stroke insured that I could never be ready to play on the next clawhammer beat. Dan slowed me down and showed me the better approach. (I now teach that to my students with a lot of success.) For the next 5-6 weeks, I practiced in front of a mirror to watch my thumb stroke. I was able to correct my bad habit and improve my playing.

Dan also taught me to really listen. To other artists and to my own playing. In one session, he told me I was not playing the 5th string consistently. I insisted that I was. He slowed me down. Then he slowed me down again. And maybe one more time. I could then hear what I was actually doing, rather than what my mind told me I intended to do.

There were other lessons, but those two are foremost in my memory. I began to make steady progress. I for the past 8 or 9 years, I have sat in the front row next to our lead fiddler and play into one of the 7 or 8 microphones assigned to key players and have become an integral member of the group. That, in fact, was my goal. I never wanted to be a soloist or to record (though I have contributed to two CDs for friends). My goal was to play for contra dancers and to accompany an outstanding fiddler. Dan was key in making that happen.

I have not taken a Skype or Zoom lesson with Dan, so I cannot speak specifically about that process. I have had two weekend workshops and one day-long workshop with him. I also have used most of his tab books in developing my own arrangements. In short, Dan helped me attain my clawhammer goals, and I am grateful for that. I think he can help you too.


Feb 12, 2021 - 1:05:45 AM
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742 posts since 7/4/2017
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I can recommend Dan from both his 'Clawhammer from Scratch' book, and also a workshop I took with him a year in. The biggest kudo to his method of teaching was that I didn't actually learn much at the workshop because Dan was too busy catching the other students up on their wish to be able to 'drop thumb'/use double D/hold the banjo comfortably, and other stuff that had they used his method/book/skype lessons they would already have known.

Feb 17, 2021 - 6:07:32 AM



3460 posts since 3/12/2006

Thank you David, Thank you Andy! SO glad to hear I have been helpful to you both being able to realize and grow your own potentials! Always my goal. Teaching to learn.

Looking forward to seeing you both again someday soon. Eastern US hopefully this summer. Back across the pond soon as the opportunity and regulations allow!

Play Nice,

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