“Singing with the banjo was an excellent workshop! The delivery, reference materials and content were really outstanding! I learned a lot from the session! Thank you!” - FINN AGENBROAD
PROVIDED WITH THE PURCHASE OF THIS WORKSHOP
- access to video of the Zoom workshop exactly as it went down live on Nov 22/2020
- an 20 page written overview of the topic (including tab examples)
- Video examples of whatever is tabbed out
In this workshop, I’ll share what I’ve learned over the past 30 years about singing and playing the banjo.
When I first started playing, I wasn’t a “natural” singer and just sang out of necessity (because I loved the songs so much, and because someone needed to sing in my band!). Over time, singing has become the most treasured aspect of music to me. As someone who’s “grown into” the idea of being a singer, but who has now been doing it for a long time, I have plenty of thoughts on the matter. The main way I’ve accompanied my voice over the years is by playing clawhammer banjo, my approach to that has changed over time, and I also have lots of thoughts on that matter.
As always, what I’m offering here is my own take on this vast subject. I’m not a traditionalist; although my first love is old-time music and all my playing is based on what I hear in that genre - I’m not connected culturally to the tradition, and apart from reading the back of lots of records, I haven’t put much time into the studying things such as “regional styles”. This will not be a study of traditional banjo accompaniment styles. Having said that, the things we look at can be applied to any style of traditional playing.
If I had to sum up the main theme of this workshop, it’s this - when you’re playing the banjo and singing, you are playing two instruments at one time and you are telling a story - these three things need to be considered at all times in regards to what and when you play. This idea will touch everything we look at in this workshop.
Below are some specific points I will cover in the workshop. These are things that, from my teaching over the years, I think players of all levels can benefit from looking at and thinking about. Although, some of these points may seem “conceptual”, I will provide practical applications and examples whenever possible. As always, this course will be followed up with a written overview of the subject which will include tablature of anything relevant.
Finding the right key for your voice, and choosing the right tuning for the banjo
Arranging a song - Obviously, the lyrics of a song have a narrative or plot - so should your instrumental arrangement. When I’m arranging a song, I tend to think of it as an order of “events”. Even if you’re goal isn’t to perform a song for an audience, being mindful of the arch of your arrangement can help keep you more engaged and in the moment.
The (impossible to overstate) importance of dynamics - Dynamics are not an option, they are a necessity. We’ll look at how this applies to song accompaniment, and how do develop it in your playing.
Why “less, really is, more” - Yep, it’s true. We’ll look at how this applies to players of different skill levels, and hopefully, give you the confidence to put it into practice.
Repertoire choice and the challenges of arranging “non- traditional” songs - The best song for you to learn is the one you like the best. Having said that, finding material you love that is already in the genre and “banjo-ready” can be helpful (especially for beginners). On the other side of the coin, we’ll look at what challenges need to be considered when we arrange songs from other genres for clawhammer banjo.
The difference between learning a song and learning a specific (another player’s) version of a song - Although this might seem like a simple concept, I’ve seen it really foul people up, so I’m going to make damn sure we understand the difference and the benefits of each approach.
Believing, and making others believe what you’re singing - Even if you think your not a “great” singer, if you are in the moment when you sing, and the people listening believe what you’re singing, you win. We’ll look at some practical ways to make this happen, and some specific things to avoid that will sabotage this from ever happening.
What your hands should be doing - Patterns, Fills, and Chords - I’ll show you the chord shapes, and left-hand patterns that I’ve found most useful in my playing. This will include some ghost-note patterns (alternat string pull-offs), roll patterns, as well as basic-strum/hammer-on/pull-off patterns.