Tag Archives: Bill Breen

Casey Henry

One of our long-time mail order students, Bill Breen, received a question from a fellow member of Banjo Hangout asking whether he had used The Murphy Method to learn to play. In response Bill wrote a nice long email about how and why the method worked for him. He said that we could share it here, so, even though it's a little like preaching to the choir, here is his excellent testimonial:

Yes, indeed, Murphy Henry IS my banjo hero. She was able to teach me to play banjo using her "Murphy Method" when all other methods and books I tried failed me. I know there have been a number of threads on the BHO wherein some members claim her method doesn't teach by ear. I am living proof that she DOES teach by ear. I am grateful to her for that, because I can sit down and come up with a break for a song without resorting to "tabbing it out."

Her method initially involves learning songs by rote, but then one progresses to recognizing "licks" from songs previously taught by her from HEARING them. Once the student recognizes the sounds, they can apply their previously learned licks to new tunes.

Back when I was learning from her, her lessons were only available on audio cassette tapes. This, too, is further evidence that one is learning by ear. Yes, she did tell me on the tapes, 'put this finger on this string at this fret and pluck it with this finger of the right hand.' A student HAS to begin learning that way. As they learn, they also hear, remember the sound, and apply it in future lessons. Like building a brick wall, it's accomplished with building blocks: a foundation first. :^)

Sorry for being so long winded. But I felt it important to answer your question while responding to what I believe are some inaccurate criticisms of her teaching method. Now that her lessons are on DVD, the learning process is now even easier. :^D

I know different teaching methods work better for different people: some folks learn better with tab. I could not, so her way of teaching was absolutely PERFECT for me. As a result, I am comfortable playing in jams, performing breaks to songs I've never played before. That, to me, is what enjoying music is all about.

Yep, Murphy Henry is my banjo hero!

Thanks, Bill, for the glowing recommendation. We always love to hear student success stories. Happy picking!