Have you ever looked up the definition of “inspiration?” Here it is: stimulated to do the process of being mentally or feel something, especially to do something creative. And the source of inspiration may be a lot more basic than we think.
To me music is a representation of life. It can be portrayed and represented in so many ways, however in it's purest forms it is an extension of one's personality and interests. I have made it a priority in my musical endeavors to exploit and display these characteristics on an instrument that is somewhat of a newbie to expression; the banjo.
So much is written about the materials and precision needed to craft a beautiful sounding banjo that we often forget to remind ourselves what the most important part is! What’s your guess?
One of the greatest aspects of my job is getting to talk with people from all walks of life and from many different enthusiasms of the music business. It’s wonderful hearing top professionals play banjo and asking them questions about how they do what they do. It’s also terrific to meet with talented amateurs and find out some of their techniques and ideas about playing banjo.
While we all make New Year’s resolutions that are relevant to our own lives, I would like to offer a suggestion for a New Year’s resolution relevant to all banjo players.
When I was learning how to play 5 string banjo, there were 3 main styles of 3 finger playing - Scruggs Style, Reno Style, and Melodic or Keith style. Today one might argue that there is a more modern style called Fleck style - but that is for another conversation.
Have you always wanted to learn to play clawhammer banjo? Do you know what clawhammer banjo is? Maybe you have played it before...but then again, a little reminder wouldn't hurt, right?
When I get questions from players who are having a hard time progressing with their playing, the challenge is almost always something that could have been prevented when they were just starting out. It’s always more fun to imagine being an amazing banjo player, playing fancy things really fast, than it is to struggle through things like fingerings, timing, and soloing.
A common question we receive is how long will it take to learn the banjo? A customer called the other day and proclaimed that he was having trouble catching on to the banjo. In particular, he was having trouble making chords with his fretting hand. Our customer service rep asked how long he’d been playing the banjo? “A month” was the response.