Banjo Essentials: Developing Great Playing and Practice Techniques & Using Your Ear To Become A Better Player Every Day
with Ron Block, Kristin Scott Benson and Bill Evans
Sunday, December 10th, 1 to 6 p.m. Eastern on Zoom.
Zoom meeting room will open at 12:30 a.m. Workshop fee is $85.
Contact Bill Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org for registration information.
This afternoon of workshops is designed for all levels of players. All sessions will be recorded for later viewing and study for years to come via a YouTube link available only to participating students. All handouts will be distributed before the workshop session and will be permanently available for download after the session via a private Google docs folder.
Contact Bill Evans at email@example.com for registration information. You can register via Venmo, Zelle, PayPal, credit card or personal check. Advance reservations are required.
This workshop afternoon brings together three of the world’s best players and teachers of bluegrass banjo for an afternoon of Banjo Essentials, designed to help players of all levels to develop a great sound, play with relaxation, develop your ear and organize your practice time to keep growing and moving forward as a banjo player.
Ron Block is best known for being the banjo and guitar player with Alison Krauss and Union Station. In addition, he is one of the banjo world’s best deep thinkers who loves to share his insights into the role of the banjo in the band and how we can best use our potential to make ourselves and others sound great. His most recent recording is Banjophonics, an Irish-Americana fusion recording with the great tenor banjo player Damien O’Kane. His most recent book is Abiding Dependence: Living Moment-by-Moment in the Love of God.
Kristin Scott Benson is a six-time, and current, IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, as well as a Steve Martin Banjo Prize recipient, who has played with the Grascals since 2008. As a teacher, she has developed clear step-by-step approaches that have been an inspiration to hundreds of students. Her most recent project is Benson, her first duo project recorded with her husband and mandolin wizard Wayne Benson. She has been on the faculty for the last several years at Béla Fleck’s Blue Ridge Banjo Camp.
Bill Evans is a 2022 Steve Martin Banjo Prize recipient who has authored instructional materials for over forty years now, helping beginners to get started playing with others as well as exploring intermediate and advanced banjo topics through his five Peghead Nation courses and four Homespun instructional videos. His most recent recording is Things Are Simple, featuring original compositions performed with his band, the California Bluegrass Reunion.
Kristin Scott Benson: Right- and Left-Hand Essentials – the Secrets to Sounding Great
Kristin will be teaching right and left-hand fundamentals. Players of all levels will greatly benefit from these tips because even the most experienced professionals never stop working on these essential skills that culminate into the most important thing: sounding great! She will cover right-hand form and offer exercises to maximize tone, as well as covering slides, hammer-ons, and the elusive perfect pull-off. She will also teach licks and solos that depend on strong, authoritative pull-offs to help hone this skill, which appears in virtually every classic bluegrass solo.
Ron Block: Developing Focused & Effective Practice Techniques
The essence of learning banjo is the skill of breaking things down to work on separate elements. Ron will teach down-to-earth but sometimes surprising practice techniques that players can use to keep moving forward. He’ll cover economy of motion, identifying and releasing tension in the hands and body, hearing and practicing “the space between the notes,” right- and left-hand synchronization, how to properly practice tough licks, how to play with “light fingers,” and how to develop a more powerful right hand. Your banjo practice time will become more focused and effective as result of the ideas presented in this session.
Bill Evans: Integrating Creative Listening and Ear Training Into Daily Practice
Developing great listening skills and being able to figure out melodies as quickly as possible are essential to becoming a successful banjo player in jams and in bands and in improvisation. In this brand-new workshop session, Bill will present a method of learning melodies in which the key, scale and chord progression of any given song provides a road map to more easily find melodies in both open and closed banjo chord positions in any key. We’ll figure out a few familiar melodies by trial-and-error using this method (and mistakes are welcome!) and discuss how to begin to construct a bluegrass banjo solo from what we discover.
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