Lesson #015, Basic Improvisation on the Banjo

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lesson #015, Basic Improvisation on the Banjo

Hi Everyone,

Although you won't be Improvising right away, I still want to talk about Improvisation and the Birth of a Lick and it's developement early in these lessons to explain what it means and to get the idea of Improvisation in your head. Improvisation means taking all the things you know and then creating music on spot with that knowledge. I think Improvising will be one of the most used tools you have when playing Bluegrass or any other type of music. Improvisation in Bluegrass Banjo is largely, but not solely based on Licks. A Lick is a short musical phrase built from a roll. You start with a roll, then you create patterns from the roll, then you create Licks from the pattterns. It may sound a little complicated right now, but it really isn't. When you start to learn about and work with these licks, you'll have a better understanding of how its going to work. I will be continuing the next lesson with various other rolls. Backward, reverse, alternating thumb, pinches and more on the Forward roll as well. Then you will work on the rolls and patterns and licks and you will be flying in no time! Hope to see you next time everyone...

Rock On..


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In 2009, at the age of 60, I decided to learn to play the 5-string banjo. I searched the internet for lessons and struck gold when I found David Cavage's free banjo lessons at Musicmoose.org. His video hosting site revver.com was having some serious problems at the time so I downloaded as many of the lessons as I could whenever they became available. Revver.com stopped operating shortly afterwards and, sadly, Musicmoose.org is no more. I contacted David early 2020 and he told me he no longer had the original master videos and feared they may have been lost forever. This amazing course of free banjo lessons, from absolute beginner to advanced player, is too good to be forgotten, so this is my attempt to get David's work back out there again so that he can teach, inspire and spread the joy of banjo pickin' to more generations of budding musicians, just like he did with me. I've rounded up all the Moose stuff I could find and put it here, so start pickin' and enjoy!-------MooseHerder.