learn to play banjo here at

banjo mountain

We are an online banjo school with beginner through advanced courses in both bluegrass and clawhammer style banjo.

clawhammer style banjo

A much older style of banjo playing, often referred to as “old-time banjo”, clawhammer picking is primarily a down-picking style. The hand assumes a claw-like shape and the strumming finger is kept fairly stiff, striking the strings by the motion of the hand at the wrist and/or elbow, rather than a flicking motion by the finger.

bluegrass style banjo

Also known as three-finger style or Scruggs-style (after Earl Scruggs whose innovative approach influenced generations of players)  the picking consists of an up-picking motion by the fingers and a down-picking motion by the thumb. Traditionally the player wears finger picks on the thumb, index and middle fingers.

OVER 200 LESSONS

CHECK OUT ONE OF OUR ADVANCED BLUEGRASS LESSONS:

A PERFECT LESSON

EACH LESSON HAS VIDEO, TABLATURE AND MEASURE MARKERS.

video lesson

MULTIPLE CAMERA ANGLES TO CLEARLY SEE THE LEFT AND RIGHT HAND AS WELL AS THE INSTRUCTOR.

tablature

ALL SONGS COME WITH TABLATURE (A MUSICAL REPRESENTATION OF THE SONG) AND WE TEACH YOU HOW TO READ TABLATURE.

Measure markers

USE MEASURE MARKERS TO JUMP TO A PARTICULAR PART OF THE SONG YOU ARE PRACTICING.

FOLLOW THE PATH

Stop wasting time on Youtube. Follow our step-by-step path as we take you from the first step of how to hold a banjo into the proficiency of playing your first song!

TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

When you start a course, you can track how far along in the course you’ve progressed. Easily jump back to the lesson you left off at any time.

Meet Our Teacher

John has been teaching both Bluegrass and Clawhammer Banjo for over 30 years to students ranging from 5 years old to folks in their mid-seventies. He has toured the world playing banjo as well as recorded for artists like The Wrecking Crew.

Meet Our Teacher

John has been teaching both Bluegrass and Clawhammer Banjo for over 30 years to students ranging from 5 years old to folks in their mid-seventies. He has toured the world playing banjo as well as recorded for artists like The Wrecking Crew.

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CHECK OUT OUR BLOG

Searching for Little Sadie

When I began my bluegrass banjo journey as an innocent pre-teen, I remember coming across a little ditty called "Little Sadie". I had recently bought a Doc Watson record (yes, we all listened to vinyl back in those days), and I remember listening to him sing this...

DEMYSTIFYING THE ALTERNATE-STRING PLUCK

In my years teaching clawhammer banjo, I’ve found that once students have mastered some of the more basic mechanics (i.e. bum-ditty, pull-offs, slides, hammer-ons, simple chords, drop-thumb,  rhythm fundamentals), things generally go smoothly up to a point -  that is,...

THE OPEN-BACK BANJO VS. RESONATOR DEBATE

In the decades I’ve spent teaching 5-string banjo, a fairly common (and thoroughly reasonable) question usually crops among banjo newcomers just before the first lesson. This question takes many different forms, but usually goes something like this...“What kind of...

MASTERING THE BAR CHORD

Since I began teaching banjo some three plus decades ago, I’ve had the pleasure of helping hundreds of banjo students attain a level of facility on the instrument. Along the way, I’ve noticed a common issue that most students wrestle with at one time or another along...

BATTLE OF THE FINGERPICKS: METAL VERSUS PLASTIC

If you’ve recently embarked on your bluegrass banjo journey and have begun looking at fingerpicks (or perhaps have already bought a set), you’ve probably noticed that both fingerpicks and thumbpicks come in two basic varieties: metal and plastic. So which do you...

THE CLAWHAMMER CONUNDRUM: INDEX VERSUS MIDDLE FINGER

Poring over online clawhammer forums this morning, I was struck by the amount of confusion there is over which finger to use – index or middle - in the clawhammer strum. Before I take a crack at this question, let me first provide some background. When I started...

REFRAMING THE DROP-THUMB

Thinking back to the days when I was beginning my clawhammer journey, I remember picking up a copy of Ken Perlman’s “Everything You Wanted to Know About Clawhammer Banjo” at my local library. That night, I began working through the book starting from page one. Things...

FINGER PICKS: SCRAPING THE SURFACE

As a banjo teacher with years of experience helping beginning banjo students find their sea legs as bluegrass players, one issue that always seems to crop up is the age-old problem of getting your picks to stop scraping against the drum head while playing. And, as...

FRETLESS BANJO – NO NEED TO…(ahem)…FRET OVER IT

(Above photo courtesy of Rhiannon Giddens) If you’re somewhat new to banjo, one thing you may have noticed is how many different types of banjos are actually out there. Banjos with resonators, open-back banjos, 4-string banjos, banjos with ridiculously long necks...

Video: How To Use Banjo Mountain

Welcome to Banjo Mountain! This video breaks down how the site works and will help get you up and running quickly. You'll learn how to start a course, mark a lesson complete, track your progress as well as navigate the site.

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