Tucson Tom and the Banjo
It all started with my discovery of bluegrass music.
For some reason, hearing blue grass music make me feel like I wanted to
and might be able to learn how to make music myself.
I began talking about learning the Banjo to my musician friend
Richard Kirkpatrick and ...
April 28, 2008, my wife returned from running the Boston Marathon,
with a banjo in tow! Paul Campo (in Cape Cod) had heard via our mutual friend
Richard that I had an interest in the Banjo, and was inspired to
encourage my interest. He said, "so many people get discouraged when
trying to learn an instrument by trying to learn on a crummy instrument".
And so he loaned me one to learn on.
A quick chat with Paul on May 6 yielded the following tips:
- Avoid the 4 string banjo (it is a whole different beast);
the 5 string is easier to learn.
- He sent me a good instrument, because many people get
discouraged when trying to learn on a cheap beginner instrument.
(This is true of many things besides the banjo). Also, when it
comes time to buy my own, I will know what to look for.
The one he sent is an Lida (aka Aida).
- He says learning to play chords on the banjo is actually easier
than learning to play the guitar. Finger picking comes later.
He suggested going out and getting a chord chart (and I need to
learn how to tighten the strings and tune the thing).
He sent it with the strings all completely loosened for travel
on the airplane.
The Lida Era (2008 - 2009)
Now it is July of 2008, and a number of months have gone by.
I have been taking lessons, and
"forget strumming cords on the banjo, that ain't no way to
play a banjo!" (Well, he didn't actually say exactly that, but
made that point in his own way). Patience is what it is all
about, which goes hand in hand with practice; particularly with
He emphasizes over and over keeping time. He says it is better
to play the wrong note on time than to get off time. He says that
a metronome is essential, and encourages me to practice with it
The Goodtime Era (2009 - ...)
On Saturday May 9, 2009 I took the big step of buying my own banjo.
It was a Deering Goodtime II, used (but almost new) for $375.
A nice step forward.
Take your time, go slow, don't be in a rush to play fast.
It you can play on time and hit the right notes, speed will take care of itself.
And ... playing on time is more important than the right notes,
though ultimately you will want to master both of course!
Don't fuss and worry about buying an expensive banjo.
As one of my instructors once said, "it is just a banjo".
Have any comments? Questions?
Drop me a line!
Tom's home page / firstname.lastname@example.org