It seems like many clawhammer banjo players are curious about up-picking, or fingerstlye banjo, but are unsure how to get started.
In this workshop, I will look at a very specific approach often referred to as “Thumb-Lead Two-Finger Up-Picking”. This is a simple, elegant, and versatile way of playing the banjo which stands on it’s own, but is also a great foundation for any finger-picking style you might want to play in the future. It’s great for both tune and song accompaniment.
My strategy for teaching this style will be to directly relate it to clawhammer by clearly demonstrating how each specific clawhammer technique translates to this approach to finger picking. As always in my workshops, my goal is to present the subject in its “elemental” level; to make sure you understand what your tools are and how each tool works to help you build melodies and variations. In other words, teach you how to speak the language as opposed to memorize phrases.
This will be a great workshop for clawhammer players who have always wanted to learn some fingerpicking, but didn’t know how to start. It will also be helpful for the player who has done a bit of fingerpicking here and there, but would like to drill-down on the inner workings of a more focused approach.
How this workshop will roll...
A couple weeks before this workshop, I’ll send you a tab and video demo for a simple clawhammer arrangement of the tune “Little Billy Wilson”. You will (hopefully) learn this, if you don’t already know the tune, before the workshop.
I’ll start the workshop by introducing each right-hand technique of this style in the context of a very simple melody (the song “Groundhog”). We’ll notice how each technique effects rhythm and melodic possibilities.
We’ll then look at how we can translate our clawhammer version of “Little Billy Wilson” over to this two-finger up picking style.
By the end of this process, you should have an approach to translate any tune you know how to play in the clawhammer style to up-picking.
Some of the things we will look at in this workshop will be
Tunings – which tunings work, and which don’t (and how to adjust them so they do)
Why this style works so well for song accompaniment and considerations when doing that.
What are this style’s limitations and what are your “workarounds”
A trick for how to switch between this style and clawhammer “on the fly”