Banjos, while not as popular as the guitar, have a great deal of character and can be a tool for creating awesome music. Like any other instrument, the banjo can be learned, but it takes time and resources, whether you learn banjo with a teacher or not. If you’re serious about learning, then take some of the advice below.
When assessing your goals in your search for an instructor, it is important to understand the difference between the two types of the instrument – the four string and the five string banjo. The four string is used in traditional barbershop and folk styles and played with the right hand often holding a pick and strumming chords, similar in technique to the ukulele.
The five string banjo is the type used for bluegrass where the strings are picked with the right hand rapidly one at a time in a pattern. This is the style of Appalachian bluegrass music made famous in the movie “Deliverance.” Famous bluegrass five string pickers include Earl Scruggs and Ralph Stanley, and more recently Bela Fleck. If you are interested in learning bluegrass, you will need to find a teacher for the 5-string. If you like the old time sound of strumming, it will require the 4-string, so you should make that determination before you purchase an instrument.
For this instrument, banjo lessons at a school can be a viable option, and is certainly one of the most popular. Going to a location where resources and teachers for learning the banjo are available is a great option for many, because it means a commitment and often positive reinforcement provided by fellow students. The price to learn banjo with a teacher and a class is often reasonable, and these lessons can help you make realistic and steady progress.
But if group settings or inflexible class times are something you’d rather avoid, then perhaps you should look into another option like a private tutor. The cost to learn banjo with a teacher may be big, but will give you personalized feedback and instruction tailor-made for you. They can also work out flexible classes and design their schedule around your preferences.
Sometimes, though, you just can’t afford to learn banjo with a teacher, and that’s when a cheaper option is required. In a situation like that, one of the best options is to purchase a course, whether it is of books, video, or audio. A commercially available course that you can do at home means you need to have more discipline to put yourself through the course than if you were to learn banjo with a teacher, but means even more flexibility than a private tutor.
And don’t forget to make use of free online resources to learn banjo with a teacher. You can find great videos on YouTube and other popular video sites, where experts and amateurs alike post their tips and techniques completely for free. It’s a great way to learn banjo with a teacher, although a virtual one, for no cost at all. You can also go to blogs and banjo site forums for free advice and learning methods. Free resources are great whether you have a course or not, because they supplement your learning and give you real advice from real banjo players.
Photo Credit: T.J. Lentz