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.

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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

Lifting The Fog On “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”

If you’re a banjo player (and if you’re reading this blog post, there’s a 99.9999% chance you are), it’s a pretty safe bet you’re familiar with the Earl Scruggs classic, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”. Let’s face it, any bluegrass banjo player worth their salt not only...

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 banjo...

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 become great banjo players. Along the way, I’ve noticed a common issue that most students wrestle with at one time or another along their banjo...

Banjo Picks: Metal or Plastic?

Which banjo picks should you choose? Metal or 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...

The Clawhammer Conundrum: Index vs Middle Finger

If you're reading this you are probably wondering "Which finger should I use for the clawhammer strum? The index or middle finger? Poring over online clawhammer forums this morning, I was struck by the amount of confusion there is over this question. Before I take a...

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...

How To Stop Scraping Your Picks Against The Banjo Head

How do you get your picks to stop scraping against the drum head while playing? 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 this age-old problem.  And,...

What is the fretless banjo (and why you might want one)?

What is a fretless banjo? Let's start with frets. Frets are the metal strips inserted into the fingerboard of a stringed instrument and a fretless banjo does not have any. Why? Let’s back up for a moment… If you’re somewhat new to banjo, one thing you may have noticed...

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