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Feb 19, 2024 - 10:50:41 AM
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7 posts since 2/19/2024

I picked up my first instrument (Banjo) and want to play with our church group. Nothing fancy I am still learning. I just want to play along in the background. Cut my teeth as it were. As of right now we have two guitars and a piano and shortly a violin playing the services. Traditional Hymns are used. Any suggestions, links etc. would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch

Feb 19, 2024 - 11:21:46 AM
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Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

30104 posts since 8/3/2003

You need to learn chords so you can play backup. What kind of banjo did you get? 5-string resonator, 5 string open back, 4 string? What type of music (other than gospel) do you like to listen to? Do you play any other instruments? String or otherwise. These questions will help us find the information you're looking for.

I play 5 string resonator banjo (bluegrass type music) and for back up you can use vamps (like 2 to 3 string pinches) or rolls (there are numerous types), and other basic techniques. If that's what you're looking for, then you probably need a beginner instruction book with CD/DVD to teach you the basics before you try to play with others.

Feb 19, 2024 - 11:33:42 AM
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709 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Washburn1

I picked up my first instrument (Banjo) and want to play with our church group. Nothing fancy I am still learning. I just want to play along in the background. Cut my teeth as it were. As of right now we have two guitars and a piano and shortly a violin playing the services. Traditional Hymns are used. Any suggestions, links etc. would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a bunch


You might care to check out these videos for inspiration. There's a whole lot more on Ben's website

 

 

Feb 19, 2024 - 12:09:53 PM
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7 posts since 2/19/2024

Thank you!

Feb 19, 2024 - 12:32:35 PM
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1097 posts since 10/4/2018

What's your musical background? Have you played any stringed instruments before? If you have none, it may take a while until you build up the skills of changing chords and keeping time. If you have some, learn the closed shape banjo chords, that will allow you to play along with tons of church music, as most of them aren't in the banjo-friendly keys of C or G. Basic roll patterns will get you going, as will vamping. In time you can learn some licks to spice things up. But for now stay basic until you get comfortable.

Feb 19, 2024 - 12:33:47 PM
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3359 posts since 5/2/2012

If you're thinking Scruggs style picking, in addition to Banjo Ben look at Jim Pankey and Eli Gilbert on youtube.  Note that you need to distinguish between "fast" and "slow" backup, depending on the tempo.  And that banjo may not fit well with all songs.

If you're thinking clawhammer, here is an old post when I asked about clawhammer backup.  Welcome to the HO, by the way.  

Feb 19, 2024 - 1:19:14 PM
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709 posts since 5/21/2020

I should add for the most part Traditional Hymns are played at a relatively slow tempo. You'll also need to play some tunes in 3/4 waltz time.
 

Feb 19, 2024 - 1:20:54 PM
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93 posts since 8/2/2014

Thisoldman is right in that not all hymns are not suitable for banjo. That said, there are an awfully lot of old hymns that DO lend themselves to 4/4 timing, some that were not intended to be played like that. There are a bunch that are obviously good with 4/4, such as I'll Fly Away. That's always a congregation favorite. Good one to end the set with.

Feb 19, 2024 - 4:17:20 PM
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3359 posts since 5/2/2012

If you like Bluegrass oriented worship songs, here is some inspiration.

Feb 19, 2024 - 4:31:07 PM

7 posts since 2/19/2024

quote:
Originally posted by Good Buddy

What's your musical background? Have you played any stringed instruments before? If you have none, it may take a while until you build up the skills of changing chords and keeping time. If you have some, learn the closed shape banjo chords, that will allow you to play along with tons of church music, as most of them aren't in the banjo-friendly keys of C or G. Basic roll patterns will get you going, as will vamping. In time you can learn some licks to spice things up. But for now stay basic until you get comfortable.


I am 55 and picked up my first instrument, no musical background. I am as green as a golf course so very basic. I will be taking it slow although I am working on an arrangement of Amazing Grace put out by Nickerson. I have the audio that goes with it. That is huge help. Some practices are good and some I don't what happened to my fingers. Of course drinking coffee with an expresso in it probably isn't helping. Thanks for the response. 

Feb 19, 2024 - 4:31:36 PM

7 posts since 2/19/2024

quote:
Originally posted by thisoldman

If you like Bluegrass oriented worship songs, here is some inspiration.


Thank you I will check them out

Feb 19, 2024 - 4:35:49 PM

7 posts since 2/19/2024

quote:
Originally posted by thisoldman

If you're thinking Scruggs style picking, in addition to Banjo Ben look at Jim Pankey and Eli Gilbert on youtube.  Note that you need to distinguish between "fast" and "slow" backup, depending on the tempo.  And that banjo may not fit well with all songs.

If you're thinking clawhammer, here is an old post when I asked about clawhammer backup.  Welcome to the HO, by the way.  


Jim Pankey was one of the first YouTube Video"s I saw. he posted a roll pattern for beginners and that is what  I started with before getting my first book. I have watched a number of Eli's videos as well. I am also watching Mike Hedding.  For now I am doing Scruggs style but the deeper I get into this the more the variations fascinate me. For now I'll plant and learn where I am at. Thanks for the reply

Feb 19, 2024 - 4:54:59 PM

7 posts since 2/19/2024

quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

You need to learn chords so you can play backup. What kind of banjo did you get? 5-string resonator, 5 string open back, 4 string? What type of music (other than gospel) do you like to listen to? Do you play any other instruments? String or otherwise. These questions will help us find the information you're looking for.

I play 5 string resonator banjo (bluegrass type music) and for back up you can use vamps (like 2 to 3 string pinches) or rolls (there are numerous types), and other basic techniques. If that's what you're looking for, then you probably need a beginner instruction book with CD/DVD to teach you the basics before you try to play with others.


I picked up a Guitar Center special a Washburn 5 string with resonator. No other instruments, in fact this is my first stringed instrument. I listen to Johnny Cash a lot, Ship Shanties  and sometimes classical. I recently switched stations on Pandora to all  Blue Grass so I get a healthy dose and diverse dose of Blue Grass while working out. I have two books Blue Grass Banjo for the Ignoramous and Banjo Songs for Beginners by Ross Nickerson. Both of these books have audio which is a huge help. It's been slow going in learning but I am putting at least an hour in a day so progress is being made.  

Feb 19, 2024 - 9:06:31 PM
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633 posts since 11/4/2007

Feb 19, 2024 - 9:33:32 PM
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3495 posts since 4/19/2008

https://www.banjohangout.org/tab/browse.asp?m=detail&v=26957

IMO playing hymns is one of the most difficult things to do on any instrument. The reason for this is that they are set up for 4 part harmony which means that, basically, every note of the melody is a different chord. This chord movement makes them beautiful and challenging. I could see the usual backup styles crashing and burning even in the hands of the pros. Sure they could make an arrangement given enough time and a good banjo friendly key but playing live the song will come at you so fast you won't have time to capo into Ab Bb Db Bb etc.

My answer is to blend into the arrangement as written by playing the tenor harmony part that is always written on the top line of the bass clef. By doing this you always have what to do on the page right in front of you and it's just one note at a time. This simple solution will add musical depth to the hymn and never clash with anyone else.

As a beginner all you have to do is memorize the position of at most 16 notes on the fingerboard. The good news is that you usually only need 5 or 6 of them in most hymns. You will need to learn about key signatures because sometimes the note in question will be flatted and sometimes not.

NOTE: This system is not Scruggs, old-time, etc. It's more of a classic approach.Use the files in the link if you wish to take this course of action and if you do, feel free to ask questions.

Feb 20, 2024 - 4:00:51 AM
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johnedallas

Germany

215 posts since 2/18/2005

quote:
Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

NOTE: This system is not Scruggs, old-time, etc. It's more of a classic approach.


Good point! Traditional hymns have musically little to do with "trad. music". Most hymn tunes are in the form of "light classical" music.  They are written in keys that are amenable to untrained voices, not keys that come easily to certain instruments (e.g. banjo). And above all, they are NOT dance music!

Taking all this into consideration, I, too, would recommend the classic-banjo approach to learning the instrument. This starts with the tuning: with the classic gCGBD tuning, you have the chords for F major within reach, as well as those for C and G major.

The modest tempo of hymn tunes has been mentioned. For the right hand, this means you have to overcome the relatively short sustain of the banjo's timbre. This is most easily done by picking the notes of a chord separately ("arpeggios" or "broken chords"). Don't get caught in a "rhythmic strait-jacket"!

Most important when playing with other Church musicians: learn to use the capo in such a way that you can use your repertoire of back-up chords for any number of different keys. You've got the chord for G major off pat? Just put your capo in the second fret, and you can play A major (three sharps!) or in the third fret, and you've got B-flat major (two flats).

Cheers,

John

Feb 20, 2024 - 4:26:04 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

30104 posts since 8/3/2003

I love to play and sing gospel tunes. I've found they are easy to play because a lot of them follow about the same chord structure (a generalization, I realize). I don't think I've found any songs that can't be played on the banjo. Some slow songs need to be played with a chord based melody, some songs you can follow the melody and add appropriate fills.

Feb 20, 2024 - 7:20:41 AM
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4828 posts since 3/28/2008

If you're really completely new to playing an instrument, at least a few lessons from a good teacher will be most helpful. Please feel free to send me a private message.

iragitlin.com

Feb 20, 2024 - 9:35:46 AM
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3785 posts since 4/5/2006

My experience with church hymns goes something like this: "turn (open hymnal) to page XXX, and we'll sing Amazing Grace" The organist (pianist) plays a brief lead in to the hymn, the preachers commands "all sing" & you're off to the races.  surprise

You have a banjo hanging on your shoulder, not to mention picks, making it difficult, to impossible, to open a hymn book! In addition to that, unless you know how to read music, & recognize key signatures, it wouldn't do you much good anyway.

You mentioned Johnny Cash. If you watch Johnny Cash play guitar, you'll soon notice, he hardly ever changes chords. He is playing a non amplified acoustic guitar, while damping, muting the strings? The band is covering for him. 

Until you get better, that technique can be mastered in two shakes of a cat's tail. wink

Edited by - monstertone on 02/20/2024 09:44:38

Feb 20, 2024 - 1:20:55 PM
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7 posts since 2/19/2024

I just to say thank you to all of those who have responded to my question. A lot to take in and plenty of resources. While it has only been two months or so I have about an hour a day from the 1st, and I've learned nothing gets you closer like spending that kind of time with an instrument. This is my journey to two thousand hours, and it has been a learning curve for sure.

I am even learning Banjos. I made the mistake of playing a Deering Good Time while visiting a used guitar store. What a sweet sound that came from it. All just seemed right!

I have to make my level of commitment will justify the investment. I do have my sights set on a Recording King and Deering Artisan Banjo, but I am a long way away from that, at least it gives me something to work towards. Anyway, folks thanks again. I will be posting again for sure with updates and questions.

Feb 21, 2024 - 7:43:10 AM
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1097 posts since 10/4/2018

Here's some inspiration and non-traditional bluegrass picking style, it's not always about the roll. Jim Mills, right up there with the best of them.

Feb 21, 2024 - 10:35:39 AM

709 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Good Buddy

Here's some inspiration and non-traditional bluegrass picking style, it's not always about the roll. Jim Mills, right up there with the best of them.


Great suggestion but hardly suitable for a beginner.

Feb 21, 2024 - 10:40:57 AM

1097 posts since 10/4/2018

quote:
Originally posted by FenderFred
quote:
Originally posted by Good Buddy

Here's some inspiration and non-traditional bluegrass picking style, it's not always about the roll. Jim Mills, right up there with the best of them.


Great suggestion but hardly suitable for a beginner.


It's inspiration, not a song suggestion. I even said "here's some inspiration..."  Note I didn't say "you should play this"

Feb 21, 2024 - 3:20:28 PM

709 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Good Buddy
quote:
Originally posted by FenderFred
quote:
Originally posted by Good Buddy

Here's some inspiration and non-traditional bluegrass picking style, it's not always about the roll. Jim Mills, right up there with the best of them.


Great suggestion but hardly suitable for a beginner.


It's inspiration, not a song suggestion. I even said "here's some inspiration..."  Note I didn't say "you should play this"


Whoa keep your shirt on buddy. You may not have said it but certainly implied it. At least that's how I READ IT! 

Feb 21, 2024 - 7:00:17 PM

1097 posts since 10/4/2018

quote:
Originally posted by FenderFred

Whoa keep your shirt on buddy. You may not have said it but certainly implied it. At least that's how I READ IT! 


It looks like you are in the habit of jumping to conclusions and reading into things that don't exist.

Now, I am saying this without malice, or sarcasm...but please don't quote me and make it look like I'm getting mad at you when I'm not. My answer to you was to the point. I corrected a mistake you made in assuming my intention, twice now. Don't let this get under your collar because I'm not saying anything that should make you think I am losing my shirt. I'm not implying anything, I am calmly and plainly stating this to correct your mistaken inference. 

Feb 22, 2024 - 2:39:48 AM

709 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Good Buddy
quote:
Originally posted by FenderFred

Whoa keep your shirt on buddy. You may not have said it but certainly implied it. At least that's how I READ IT! 


It looks like you are in the habit of jumping to conclusions and reading into things that don't exist.

Now, I am saying this without malice, or sarcasm...but please don't quote me and make it look like I'm getting mad at you when I'm not. My answer to you was to the point. I corrected a mistake you made in assuming my intention, twice now. Don't let this get under your collar because I'm not saying anything that should make you think I am losing my shirt. I'm not implying anything, I am calmly and plainly stating this to correct your mistaken inference. 


You can twist it anyway you want. It's there for all to see. I couldn't care less. 

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