This post originally appeared on Banjo Hangout.

Last week, we undertook one of the biggest projects in our business lives and re-recorded our Murphy Method Beginning Banjo DVDs in high definition (HD), with amazing sound. I never thought I would be doing those again in this lifetime! This makes the third time Red and I have recorded these tunes, starting with our first cassette series in 1982.

One of the reasons I wanted to reshoot these lessons was to put the songs into the order than Casey and I now use in our teaching. Over the years, we have both learned how to teach more effectively and our current “best order” is what you see on these three DVDs.

Our “team” this time included not only Red and me but our son Christopher who played guitar, sang, and helped with the sound. The fourth member of the team was sixteen-year-old Kasey Smelser, my banjo/guitar/singing student, who also proved to have great skills with wardrobe and makeup. When I first taught these lessons I recorded them in our house in Florida wearing only two things: corduroy cut-offs and a tank top. When you first saw me, on our videos, I did buy a new turquoise shirt but other than that, nada. But now, being well into the “autumn” of my life, I realized I needed help. What goes good with grey hair? Kasey figured it out. She also did my makeup. And when her school duties called and she couldn’t be there to apply the “paint and powder,” Christopher stepped up to the plate and did my makeup! Is that teamwork or what? Bill Belichick would have been proud!

I was not familiar with the phrase “Teamwork Makes The Dream Work” until Christopher used it during the shooting. One of his jobs was being on the lookout for Mistakes Mama Makes. So, in the middle of Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms, I heard, “Excuse me, Mom, I think you forgot to mention the pinch at the end of that C lick. You played it but you didn’t explain it.” After using a few choice expletives (which my mama would have whipped me for!), I took a deep breath and said, “Thank you, Chris. I’ll add a little clip talking about that pinch. Thanks for noticing.” To which he replied, “Teamwork makes the dream work!” I loved the phrase, and asked him if he had just made it up, and he said no. (I later Googled it to find out that the phrase comes from leadership expert John C. Maxwell.) So, thanks to our whole team for a great week of shooting DVDs!

So what’s different about the lessons this time? What improvements have we actually made? ...continue reading

How does it go, Chris?

How does it go, Chris?

Howdy again, Folks,

Thanks for all the great suggestions for our new mandolin DVD, taught by son Chris, with Murphy on guitar. I totally agree with the student who wrote, "I don’t envy you the task of selecting a name for this DVD." But, it's kinda fun, especially with your help.

As I mentioned, this DVD is designed to follow directly after our Beginning Mandolin DVD. So it's sort of an advanced beginner DVD. And, yes, it is jam oriented. These are songs we play every week at the Tip Jar Jam!

Here are the suggestions we've received so far:

Chris Henry Teaches Mandolin To Inspire You

Chris Henry Manipulates the Mandolin

Chris Henry Teaches Mandolin Mania – Learning to Jam on the Mandolin

Beginning Mandolin: Taking you to the jam

Our New Mandolin DVD.

The songs we all Love

Making Friends with Your Mandolin.

Chris Henry Teaches How To Play Like A Man…More On The Little Fiddle With Frets [Note: This is a friendly jibe from a friend who is constantly ragging me about my feminist stuff...I've already busted him on it!]

Man Handlin’ Mandolin

Chris Henry Teaches Mandolin for Misfits ! (Me being one, of course).

Chris Henry teaches: Next Level Bluegrass Mandolin.

Chris Henry's Beginning Mandolin Jammin' DVD

Chris Henry Goes Hardcore

Chris Henry Teaches Hardcore Bluegrass

Chris Teaches Hard Core Mandolin


Even More Mandolin Fun with Chris Henry

Chris Henry teaches “Middlan” Mandolin…the next logical step for beginners.

Chris Henry teaches No Tab Mandolin for the Masses.

Chris Henry Teaches “Breaking Good”

” NOT” Beginning Mandolin with Chris Henry

Mandolin Jam with Chris Henry.

Chris Henry Teaches You How to Take a Break, too

Hardcore Mandolin for the Begintermediate [I LOVE the word "begintermediate!]

Bluegrass Mandolin Jam Breaks like the Pros

Break out your Mandolin for Bluegrass Jamming

Break like a Pro at your next Jam

Take the next break like a Pro

Chris Henry Teaches Easy Jamming Favorites

Chris Henry Mandolin – More To Know, Way To Go

Chris Henry Teaches Easy Mandolin Jamming Favorites

And from an email I sent out to some Tip Jar Jammers:

  • More Mandolin Melodies
  • Mountain Mandolin Melodies
  • Mountain Mandolin Basics
  • Main Mandolin Melodies
  • Smooth Sailing into Mandolin Jams
  • Essential but Easy Tunes on Mandolin
  • Simple and Lonesome Songs on Mandolin
  • Your Favorite Tunes on the Mandolin
  • How to Begin . . . . .. . To Play the Mandolin
  • The Way of the Mandolin
  • Mandolin Power

So let us know which one or two you like by writing in the comments box. And if you have other suggestions, bring 'em on! If we select the title you came up with, you get this mandolin DVD FREE!

Happy naming! May the odds be ever in your favor! <Grin>


Chris and Murphy Henry

Chris and Murphy filming our new mandolin DVD.

Howdy, Folks!

Long time, no blog! Been busy.

Been shooting a new mandolin DVD. We finished up the actual recording this past weekend! YEA! Done! In the can. Now, Red's real work beings: editing it and pulling all the pieces together to make it look like we did everything in one take with no mistakes! Then it will be my job to upset that apple cart and find the best bloopers!

About the DVD:

Our excellent son Christopher drove over from Nashville to do the teaching. If you do Facebook, you may know about Chris Henry & the Hardcore Grass. (If you don't, now's the time!) Chris is a world-class mandolin player, singer, and songwriter (if I do say so myself!). He is also well-versed in the Murphy Method way of teaching, having grown up surrounded by the sounds of "Now, the first thing you have to do is tune the banjo." He already has one Murphy Method DVD under his belt, the amazing Monroe Style Mandolin and he has helped out on many others.

On this beginning-level DVD, Christopher teaches tried and true arrangements that I worked out on my mandolin students. (Thank you, Kristina!) Leading my Tip Jar Jam has really helped me understand what beginning mandolin students need to know in order to jam. We've tried to provide that on this DVD. (It will also be available as a download.) It is designed to follow right after our Beginning Mandolin DVD. So we need a catchy title!

Chris teaches mandolin breaks to eight songs:

Blue Ridge Cabin Home
I'll Fly Away
Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Lonesome Road Blues
Do Lord
Bury Me Beneath the Willow
Foggy Mountain Top
Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms

(Not sure all will end up on the DVD. Some may end up on the internet. We will see!)

We don't want to simply call this Beginning Mandolin Volume 2. Boring! What we want to call it is "Chris Henry Teaches....." Something!

So we're fishing around for ideas. Hope you can help us out! Naturally, the one (or ones) that help us arrive at a title will get a free mandolin DVD! Respond to this blog, or send an email to the Murphy Method (info@murphymethod.com). And thank you all for playing!

PS: And for those of you on the Left Coast/Best Coast/West Coast:

Chris Henry & the Hardcore Grass will be playing at the California Bluegrass Association Father's Day Festival June 18-21 and teaching Intermediate Mandolin at their camp June 14-17.

Chris Henry--video wrapped!

Chris Henry--video wrapped!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Murphy blogs every month over on Banjo Hangout and we will be cross-posting these blogs so they'll be all here in one place. This was originally published September 25th, 2014.

I've been trying to figure out how to teach banjo students to improvise for almost 40 years. And it's only in the last year that I've finally figured out a teachable technique that worksAs always, I used my own students for guinea pigs and now every week in our Tip Jar Jams I get to see them playing breaks to songs they've never even heard before. It's pretty fantastic! (I swear this sounds like one of those unbelievable, too-good-to-be-true TV ads! I feel like I should be saying, "And wait! If you order now, we will send you two of everything. All you have to do is pay additional shipping and handling!") But I digress....

Pause For Shout Outs: Before I go further let me give some shout outs to my guinea pigs: Kathy G, who challenged me to come up with something simple for her to play on the singing songs that she loved; to Julie for showing me that this technique would also work for  instrumentals; to Tim for naming this technique the "roly polys," and to Kathy H, Kasey, Ben, Pam, Dan, Betty, Gregg, and Drew who almost never pass up a break to a song anymore! Why should they when they can make something up on the spot? ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Again, a quick blog about our recording today. I got through all of the upgrades to the Roly Polys! Hooray! Red may have a time with the editing, but the footage is there. For upgrades (meaning harder licks) I included the Tag Lick, the Foggy Mountain Breakdown Lick, the D lick first taught in Do Lord, the Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms lick, the 8th-note walk-down C lick (which does NOT have a good name!), a hammer-on to the fourth string for the C Roly Poly, the D lick from Foggy Mountain Breakdown, and finally, that cool Ralph Stanley lick that I first teach in When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder. WHEW!

So these are all substitute licks for the basic Roly Poly Breaks which I recorded yesterday. I can only HOPE that the students (this means you!) will not move too fast through the DVD or skip around too much.

When we got done about noon, I didn't even have time to MAKE a sandwich to take with me to my teaching place. So, alas, I had to stop by McDonald's which was on the way. Here is a picture of my lunch:



I don't know why I'm suddenly compelled to tell you what I have been eating! Maybe because recording takes so much focused energy that I stay hungry all the time!

We still need Casey to add the guitar parts and I am getting Red to play the mandolin on Daybreak in Dixie so you banjo folks can hear what the song sounds like. Much better than me HUMMING through the chords! But we are closing in on being done! Except for that all-important cover shot!

Stay tuned. And thanks for all the positive comments about looking forward to this DVD.

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

I'd hoped to have more energy to blog in detail about our first day of recording the new DVD, Kick Start Your Jamming! (And a tip of the big ol' Stetson hat to Texas Tim for helping with that title.) This DVD will teach you everything you need to know about the Roly Polys!

We recorded nine songs, from Blue Ridge Cabin Home to Somebody Robbed the Glendale Train, and will be adding the upgrades tomorrow. Then Casey will join me later in the week to add the rhythm guitar. I am extremely pleased with how the DVD is turning out. Can't wait for you to see it!

Post-DVD meal: Eggs and grits

Post-DVD meal: Eggs and grits

Here's a picture of our post-DVD meal: eggs and grits. Cheese grits! I cooked the eggs, and Red made the grits. This has always pretty much been our go-to supper especially when we were playing bluegrass full time and coming back home from a festival or being out on the road. (Okay, sometimes we did resort to that quick Kraft Macaroni and Cheese! Yummy!)

So, I'm not sure how well you can see the things spread out on our eating table (my Mama made the tablecloth) but Red's plate has the most grits on it! Mine are in a bowl. We are also having green beans (compliments of J.P., my fiddle student, who had already strung and snapped them!), cantaloupe, and toast made in the oven and topped with Casey's homemade apple jelly!

But now, it's time to crash and do some serious vegging in front of the TV. I hope there's a pre-season football game on!

We'll be recording some Roly Poly upgrades tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Red Henry

That's right, folks! By customer demand, our Bill-Monroe Style Mandolin DVD is now available by download, the high-tech modern way to do things.

Click here to go straight to it in our digital catalog.

Bill Monroe-Style Mandolin: Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass, is also the father of the Monroe-style of mandolin playing. Our son Chris Henry—who has been called a “fire-eating Monroe acolyte”—grew up on the sounds of Bill Monroe, not only from records but from the sounds of his own father’s playing. (With some David McLaughlin thrown in for good measure.) In other words, Chris knows the Monroe style. Having grown up in a Murphy Method home, he also knows how to teach it, note by note.

Here we present four Bill Monroe tunes along with a bluesy Monroe-style break to “Man of Constant Sorrow.” If you’re ready for some hard-core bluegrass mandolin playing, you’ve come to the right place! No Tab. 83 minutes.

Big Mon, Bluegrass Breakdown, Raw Hide, Wheel Hoss, Man of Constant Sorrow.


More details and a sample are here on our site!