“Thanks ever so much. I’ve been studying seriously for 5 years and found a number of explicit opportunities to both improve technique and expand how to think about this. You are very organized and that’s hugely appreciated.” - Steve Saylor
PROVIDED WITH THE PURCHASE OF THIS WORKSHOP
- access to video of the Zoom workshop as it went down live on Aug 16/2020
- an 16-page written overview of the workshop which includes time markers that correlate to the workshop video.
- Tabs for 3 tunes that demonstrate the "layering" system outlined in the workshop - 4 versions of each tune (Old Joe Clark, Arkansas Traveller, Liza Jane)
- Video demos of all the tunes that are tabbed
UNDERSTANDING YOUR CLAWHAMMER TOOLS
In the 30 years I've been playing clawhammer banjo, I could break down pretty much anything I've ever played into 3 right-hand techniques, and 3 left-hand techniques. They are (on the right hand), – “the basic strum”, “double-thumbing”, and “drop-thumbing”; (on the left hand) “hammer-on”, “pull-off” and “slide”. These are the “elements” - they are the tools you have at hand to express yourself musically. Your understanding of how they work, what they allow you to do, and your ability to execute each technique in the most efficient way is the key to clawhammer happiness.
In this workshop, I will go deep on each of these techniques. I'll start by breaking down the mechanics; with a focus on economy of motion. I'll teach each one more or less from scratch with the goal of highlighting the most common mistakes people tend to make, and how to correct them. We'll be working in slow motion, so we can focus on each “moment” of each technique. At the risk of being perceived as a total banjo-geek, I've found that getting into the minutia of the mechanics is really helpful to players of all levels. It only takes a small amount of wasted motion to cause you to always be “playing catch-up”, which may be what's preventing you from taking your playing to the next level (particularly in regards to tone and rhythm).
Once we get through with the “how”, we'll move on to the “why” and “when”. Although most players can perform each of these techniques with varying degrees of proficiency, I've noticed that very few have a good understanding of what each tool allows them to do (and, just as importantly, the limitations). As we move through each of the techniques, we'll start “building” an arrangement of a familiar tune. We'll see how the addition of each technique allows us to get a more complete version of the melody...not always better, but more melodic. For many people, understanding these principles is the thing that “turns the light bulb on” and changes your playing from a memorization exercise to truly speaking the language of music (playing by ear, improvisation, learning tunes on the fly).
I will finish off with some thoughts about an effective way of practicing these techniques, especially if you've been doing it another way for some time and are trying to break old habits.
Please Note – If you took the workshop I did in early May entitled “Building Tunes in Layers”, there will be some amount of overlap with this workshop. The difference is, I'll be be focusing on the mechanics of each technique which I didn't do in the previous workshop. Also, if you own my DVD “The Elements of Clawhammer Banjo” you'll also notice some overlap, although, I filmed that 13 years ago, and I feel like my teaching has changed a lot in that time, so you might consider this workshop an updated version of that DVD.
A WORD ABOUT LEVEL
I'd say this workshops is geared towards "middle beginner" to "advanced intermediate"....or anyone who would like to re-evaluate their basic technique. As I've said before, I find the whole level thing a bit ambiguous as I've seen lots of folks at workshops who can play some fairly advanced things, but have a poor grasp of the fundamentals and the musicality that goes along with it. I hope my description will give you an idea of whether this class will be of interest to you, whatever level you may be. Please feel free to contact me if you need clarification. Click to email me.