Beginner Banjo Lessons

We are really proud of our beginner section. With over 50 lessons it takes a student from zero musical experience to playing a song proficiently. Below you will see the outline of our Beginner Course as well as four sample lessons just to give you a taste of how we do things. However, if you’re serious about learning banjo then join Banjo Mountain and experience our easy step-by-step method.

Beginner Banjo Lessons

We are really proud of our beginner section. With over 60 lessons it takes a student from zero musical experience to playing a song proficiently. Below you will see the outline of our Beginner Course as well as four sample lessons just to give you a taste of how we do things. However, if you’re serious about learning banjo then join Banjo Mountain and experience our easy step-by-step method.

Beginner Banjo Lessons

We are really proud of our beginner section. With over 60 lessons it takes a student from zero musical experience to playing a song proficiently. Below you will see the outline of our Beginner Course as well as four sample lessons just to give you a taste of how we do things. However, if you’re serious about learning banjo then join Banjo Mountain and experience our easy step-by-step method.

Lesson 1 – Holding the Banjo

Before we get started picking, let’s make sure you’re holding the banjo correctly. Good playing starts with properly positioning the banjo in your lap. While it’s important that you hold it in a way that feels comfortable, there are some specific guidelines you’ll want to follow to insure clean, precise picking. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Lesson 2 - Picking Hand Position

Sure, you’re chomping at the bit to let those fingers fly, but first you’ll need to know how to properly position your picking hand on the banjo so that you have a stable, solid anchor for support and leverage. Once you’ve accomplished this, you’ll be right on track for building speed and dexterity a little further down the road. Check this video out

Lesson 3 - Picking Basics

If you’ve ever watched a banjo player in action, it might appear as if the fingers of his picking hand are flailing about randomly and haphazardly. Despite this impression, these players are actually following very specific picking rules that dictate which fingers pluck which strings. It’s essential that you learn these rules

Lesson 4 - Finger Picks

So, what exactly are fingerpicks? How many and what kind should I get? How do I wear them? Will they clash with my suspenders? So many questions to be answered! This video will address these concerns, and more. Check it out – after all, knowing how to properly utilize the fingerpicks will be crucial in insuring good picking habits early on in your banjo career.

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Lesson 5 - Fretting Basics

Some basic exercises to familiarize your picking hand with the strings. This video will not only show you how to properly pick the strings, but will get you started developing the coordination needed to pick accurately and cleanly.

Lesson 6 - Right Hand Basics

So, what exactly are fingerpicks? How many and what kind should I get? How do I wear them? Will they clash with my suspenders? So many questions to be answered! This video will address these concerns, and more. Check it out – after all, knowing how to properly utilize the fingerpicks will be crucial in insuring good picking habits early on in your banjo career.

Lesson 7 - Tuning

You can tune using a tuner or your smart phone. You can also tune the banjo to itself using your ear. Learn how to do all three as well as pitfalls to be aware of.

Lesson 8 - Tablature

Feeling good? You should be! You’ve got all the basics down to start learning rolls (that great finger picking!). But first we need to understand tablature which is an easy way to read banjo music.

Lesson 9: Intro to Rolls (Alternating Thumb Roll)

In the rolls section you’ll learn what a roll is. Then you’ll get started on the alternating thumb roll, forward-backward roll, index leading roll, middle leading roll, foggy mountain roll, forward roll and backward roll. If you follow our suggested practice time for each of these rolls, you’ll be picking like crazy by the end of this section.

There are 7 lessons in the “Rolls” section. 

Lesson 10 - Forward Backward Roll

Another commonly heard picking pattern is the Forward-Backward Roll. This roll is a commonly used roll in many beginner-level songs and provides a simple yet tuneful picking pattern that lends itself nicely to basic songs.

Lesson 11 - Index Leading Roll

Here’s a roll that really puts that index finger to work. And the good news is once you’ve learned the first four notes, you’ve got the entire roll – the final four notes simply repeat the first four! What could be easier?

Lesson 12 - Middle Leading Roll

Now here’s a roll that really puts that middle finger to work. Just like the index leading roll, the good news is once you’ve learned the first four notes, you’ve got the entire roll – the final four notes simply repeat the first four! What could be easier?

Lesson 13 - Foggy Mountain Breakdown

There’s a reason for this roll’s name – it’s the picking pattern that forms the basic melody line for the Grandaddy of all Bluegrass songs, Foggy Mountain Breakdown. Check it out!

Lesson 14 - Forward Roll

Like the Forward-Backward Roll, the Forward Roll works nicely when plugged into any basic song. Even a simple chord progression (G to C, G to D7) suddenly comes to life when applying this roll to it. See for yourself!

Lesson 15 - Backward Roll

The Backward Roll is similar to the forward roll with one important exception – instead of picking the second string and immediately following it with the first string, the order is reversed. Yep, you guessed it, brainiac – we begin by picking the first string and immediately follow it with the second string. Go see for yourself!

Lesson 16 -Chord Basics I

If you’re new to music, you’ve heard the word “chords” thrown around. Now you’ll find out what a chord actually is and how to play it. Check it out – you’re well on your way to learning how to play a song!

After learning “Chord Basics” you’ll move on to “Chord Basics II” and then to “Licks.”

 

Lesson 17 - Chord Basics II

Alright, we’ve done some practicing with the basic G, C and D7 chords and our transitions between all three chords are getting smoother and smoother.  Looks like you’re ready now for some more advanced chord work!  No better place to start than with the four-fingered (fretted) G and D chords, two of the most common-four fingered chords used in bluegrass.  Try ‘em out for size!

Lesson 18 - Basic Licks

Alright, we’ve done some practicing with the basic G, C and D7 chords and our transitions between all three chords are getting smoother and smoother.  Looks like We know you’re chomping at the bit to start picking away, and we don’t blame you. But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Before we delve into actual tunes, let’s take a look at some rudimentary licks that will get your fingers familiar with basic picking and fretting patterns. Get these under your belt and they’ll provide a solid foundation for much of what you’ll be playing in bluegrass banjo.

Lesson 19 - The G-Lick

We consider the G-lick the Godfather of all banjo licks. It’s not only an awesome lick, but an ESSENTIAL lick. If you’re going to play bluegrass banjo, you’ve got to learn it. It appears in almost every song. It’s the pretty little bow that wraps up virtually every musical phrase played in bluegrass banjo. Often times it is employed to end entire songs. If you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s an extremely important lick. Let’s take a look at it

Lesson 20 - Tag Lick

Alright, we’ve done some practicing with the basiNow that we’ve gotten are feet wet with some basic licks and have begun practicing them on a daily basis, let’s explore a tag lick – the lick that ends a banjo tune. Although there are countless banjo tags used to end songs, the one tag that is probably heard most often is the classic “Shave and a Haircut” tag lick. In the video that follows, I’ve presented a basic version of it. You’ll be well on your way to sounding like a real banjo player once you’ve mastered it!c G, C and D7 chords and our transitions between all three chords are getting smoother and smoother.  Looks like We know you’re chomping at the bit to start picking away, and we don’t blame you. But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Before we delve into actual tunes, let’s take a look at some rudimentary licks that will get your fingers familiar with basic picking and fretting patterns. Get these under your belt and they’ll provide a solid foundation for much of what you’ll be playing in bluegrass banjo.

Songs

If you follow all of the lessons in our beginner section you could be playing a song in less than a week. We’ve got a great Beginner Song Lesson library and it’s growing weekly.

All song lessons come with tablature and a “Focus Video” which is just the song itself that you can replay at slower speeds. 

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