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:

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 my instructor says: "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 the banjo.

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 often.

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.

General Advice

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 / tom@mmto.org