First Banjo Workshop of the Year

Casey HenryYesterday I got back from an extended weekend trip up to Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland, primarily to teach a workshop at the Wilmington Winter Bluegrass Festival. It was a three-hour-long session on Saturday. Since anybody at the festival could come, we had a wide range of abilities---from beginner to advanced intermediate. That's always a hard split to negotiate. Almost by default you have to teach to the middle, so the material is going to be too fast for the beginners (something I always feel terribly about), but the more advanced players may already know it (something I also feel bad for).

But I think (I hope!) most of the attendees went home with something that they can use, something that stuck in their brains. I mostly used material that is found on our new Easy Songs for Banjo DVD, showing the students the high break to "Blue Ridge Cabin Home," and a back-up roll to go with the same song. Then we took that break and moved it to the key of C (without a capo). Then, in the last hour, we worked with "Amazing Grace." I showed them the two breaks on the DVD and then, in an inspired moment, I realized that you can take those breaks and move them around to almost any key, since they are based on the four-finger vamp chords and use no open strings. So we moved the break to A, B, and F, and people mostly got it.

I got some positive feedback about the workshop afterwards, but one beginner did come and tell me he was lost after the fist five minutes. Hopefully he'll get the DVD and be able to go through the material more slowly.

This is just the first workshop of the season, and it got me excited for the next one, which is Banjo Camp North, with Kaufman Kamp to follow. They'll be here before you know it!