For today's post I want to do a little bit of bragging on my student Kyle, whom I've mentioned here before. He took lessons from me for about eight years and he's the only student I've had who I can really say I've graduated. He's a junior in high school (I think...maybe a senior? I've lost track.) and has been playing with a group called Youngtown for around a year. The group is made up of mostly other students who take lessons at the Main Stage Music and Dance Studio. They play some gigs and have recently recorded a self-titled CD (which I would link to, but I can't find a place you can get it online).
They have a couple videos up on YouTube: video #1. video #2. And what I like best about watching these is that Kyle plays licks that I didn't even teach him! That shows me that I succeeded in teaching him how to learn on his own, so he doesn't need me any more. (Which is ultimately my goal with all my students.)
Getting in a band, even more than just jamming with other people, is the best thing any student can do for their playing, once they reach a certain level of proficiency, and I know that it helped me. My very first band (other than the family band, in which I was not the banjo player) was a gospel group called the Singing C.O.P.S. that played mostly at local churches, for free, but they forced me to learn things I wouldn't have otherwise---like playing a lot out of C and D positions.
One of the first times I realized that Kyle was really "getting it" was when he told me that at one of their band practices they played "Head Over Heels," which we had learned in G position (naturally, since that's where Earl played it). But the singer, Lindsey, sang it in D! So he had to transpose his break on the spot into D position. Which he did! They recorded it on the new CD: Head Over Heels. (Kyle's break comes at 0:32).
And for good measure I'll post the banjo tune from the CD (posted with permission of course...), Shenandoah Breakdown. It's odd and kind of awesome to hear my licks coming out of someone else's fingers!
I am so proud of Kyle for turning into an actual banjo player, rather than just a banjo student. In the CD liner notes he thanks his grandpa, and I'll add my thanks to that because Bob bought Kyle his first banjo and brought him to every lesson for eight years. It takes a village to raise a banjo player!