Lesson #081, The Major Scale & Playing Styles On The Banjo

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lesson #081, The Major Scale & Playing Styles On The Banjo

Hey Moosers,

cool thing my friends.I'd like to talk a little bit about different styles on the Five String Banjo. As you know, I started these lessons out with the Scruggs style of playing.......the rolls.....the rolls....the rolls.....those ever present rolls. I cant tell you enough how important learning the different rolls are.....they are the matter by which we will navigate all the different ways and styles on the fingerboard. We can relate the rolls to the Keith/Thompson style (melodic) and we can also relate the rolls to the single string style. We can mix them up....keep em straight.......play it here....play it there.....we can literally do whatever we want whenever we want. Thats a veeery

When the three finger style of Scruggs was being developed, it wasnt really associated with playing scales. Although we can play the rolls around melody notes that do come from scales in that style, it isnt a style that totally defines or outlines any scales. In later years a couple of guys came up with an approach of playing scales on the Banjo, they being Bill Keith and Bobby Thompson. Two outstanding players who changed the way the banjo was approached. I'll be delving into their approach in future lessons, but still we can apply the rolls and motions of our right hand into that approach.

There is also the single string style, and the early pioneer of Don Reno, who was another of the major powers of the Five String along with Scruggs. Two brilliant players who both deserve the highest regard. The single string style can be used to define the scales as well. We can also relate it to the rolls and motions of the right hand. We will be dicussing and teaching all aspects and styles of the Five String Banjo so you best approach the Banjo how YOU want to. To express yourself and create your own ideas on the Banjo. There are many ways to conceptualize the fingerboard of the Banjo, thats what makes it such an extreme instrument...an extremely versatile, magnificent instrument.

Rock On The Moose!


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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.