Tag Archives: DVDs

Murphy Henry

Wow! What a weekend! On Monday evening, we finished recording our brand-new Harmony Singing DVD! (Not yet titled and not yet for sale!) Bill Evans, Janet Beazley, and Chris Stuart (all from California) joined Red and me in the studio to record a DVD that’s all about teaching folks to sing harmony. It was way too much fun, and we put down some amazing lessons.

And of course we did it totally by ear, the Murphy Method way, with no talk about theory or use of big phrases like “five chord,” “parallel thirds,” or “sing a B note.” In fact, I made Bill go back and re-do a clip in which he referred to an E chord as a “five chord.” That’s a no-no, Bill!

We chose six songs that are fairly easy to sing and are well-known, standard bluegrass numbers: Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Bury Me Beneath the Willow, All the Good Times Are Past and Gone, Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky, Amazing Grace, and Just Over in the Gloryland.

It is our firm belief that you learn to sing harmony by singing harmony! (Just as you learn to sing lead—which is the melody—by singing lead.) So, for every song, we sang the lead part and each harmony part separately (with guitar accompaniment) so you can hear that part clearly and practice singing along with us.

And here is beauty of our approach: We demonstrated the first song, Will the Circle, in three different keys so that no matter what your vocal range is, you can sing with us! So, Murphy sang lead in the key of A, Janet sang lead in the key of C, and Bill sang lead in the key of E. We also demonstrated and sang the harmony parts (tenor and baritone) for each key. We also did the second and third songs (Willow and All the Good Times) that way.

For the fourth song, Rough and Rocky, which is longer (verse and chorus in harmony all the way through), we used just one arrangement with Chris singing lead in G. And the last two numbers we performed as quartets so all you bass singers can get involved!

Since this DVD concentrates on singing, we kept the instrumentation minimal (usually Chris on guitar) so you could always hear the singing. Then, at the very end, we closed out with a rousing quartet of Over in the Gloryland with Bill and me both playing our banjos. We were cooking!

[Then there was that extra footage we shot with the strange rabbit, but I don’t want to say too much about that yet....]

I am so excited about this DVD! We’ve never done a singing DVD so this is a totally new venture for us. I started thinking about this (with some prodding from Bill!) after he and I did a harmony singing workshop with Janet at Mid-West Banjo Camp this past June. She was the workshop leader and she did an amazing job of teaching a class of 30 adults to sing three-part harmony to Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky. (All Bill and I had to do was sing what she told us to!) It was her ability to talk about bluegrass harmony singing in simple terms—and sing all three parts herself with ease (although not at the same time!)—that made me want to record this DVD and open up the sometimes mysterious world of harmony singing to everyone.

So, stay tuned for more info on the release date. (And the title!) We’re hoping to have the DVD out in a couple of months. And, believe me, you’ll be the first to know!

PS: And what did we do after our long days of recording? Sunday night we watched the PBS Masterpiece Classic Downton Abby (two blissful hours!) and Monday night we watched the screamingly funny (and extremely risqué) movie Hall Pass. (Not recommended for kids! Or grandkids! I might consider letting Dalton see it when he gets to be 21...or 30! Oh! I guess that would be Casey’s decision! Or, by that time, his! Hey, this grandmothering is harder than you think!)

PPS: And speaking of mothering, happy birthday to son Chris whose birthday is tomorrow, Feb. 15th!!! As Mr. Spock would say, Live long and prosper!

Red Henry

Folks, we've had a terrific response to our first 6 DVDs offered as digital downloads (details here). We didn't know quite what to think of this new technology at first, but when we put these 6 up on line, the response from old and new students has been excellent. It appears that the downloads have a bright future for the Murphy Method. These are our titles available at present:

Beginning Banjo Volume 1
Beginning Banjo Volume 2
Slow Jam with Murphy and Casey
Picking Up the Pace: More Slow Jamming
Easy Songs for Banjo
Beyond Vamping: Fancy Banjo Backup

...so as you can see, it's a great bunch of titles. Now, we're working on 8 more DVDs, which will be available digitally in a few weeks:

Banjo for Misfits
Vamping: Beginning Banjo Backup
Improvising: The First Stage
Beginning Guitar
Beginning Mandolin
Beginning Bass
Beginning Fiddle
Beginning Dobro

These will occupy us for a while, as we take care of all the details about putting them on line. I'd estimate that it will take about 5 or 6 weeks to have them available. But from now on, we need to hear from you. Which of our DVDs would you most like to see available this way? We'll have about 25 more DVDs, and need to know which way to go. Please let us know, either through your comments on this post, or by way of the "Contact Us" button on the website. We can't promise that your favorite DVD will be on line soon, but your opinion is important!

Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks, Christmas is coming fast, and we know you want your DVDs! So today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday), as a special gesture of thanks for your orders, we will ship ALL ORDERS by PRIORITY MAIL (2-3 day shipping) at no additional cost to you.

This will give your packages their best chance to arrive at your house by Christmas Eve. So place your orders either on line or on the phone (800-227-2357), and we'll send them out today and tomorrow by Priority Mail!

Red Henry

Folks, I haven't blogged yet this week, and there's a good reason: You, our Murphy Method customers, have responded so well to our ongoing telephone sale that I haven't had time in the morning to even write a few paragraphs. If you are looking for a gift for your Murphy Method family member, remember our special price of 4 DVDs for just $75.00! Murphy Method DVDs are a great Christmas gift for yourself, too! Take a look on our site to see what you'd like to order, and call us toll-free at 800-227-2357. The sale runs for 8 more days, until Saturday, Dec. 13th!

Our band (Murphy, myself, Christopher, and Cousin David) is going out this afternoon to play the first of this year's Christmas parties. This is a large party held at a local church, and we're looking forward to playing music. A good time will be had by all!

Red Henry

Response to yesterday's Murphy Method e-mail Newsletter has been terrific. Lots of people have ordered Casey's custom DVD, "Christmas Tunes on the Banjo", which teaches many popular numbers. We've also had many orders for this month's half-price DVD, "Great Banjo Tunes". Thank you all!

We've also had a lot of interest in our very first Murphy Method Banjo Camp, scheduled for late March. We often get inquiries saying "Where can I attend a banjo camp?", and now Murphy and Casey, two of the best banjo teachers anywhere, will be giving a camp right here in Winchester, Va. There are still some student slots remaining, so if interested, take a look at the details here.
. . . . .

On another subject entirely, last night I did an extensive interview with a researcher who may write a book about Randy Wood, the pioneer (and still currently-active) bluegrass instrument builder who began making superb mandolins, banjos, and guitars way back in the 1960s. Since I have Randy's very first mandolin as well as #3 (a Bill Monroe mandolin, which Murphy bought from Bill's estate sale in 2001 and gave me), I like Randy's instruments a lot and was able to share many stories from 35 and 40 years ago, about Randy's pioneer work in making great instruments for bluegrass pickers to play.

Everybody keep picking!

Red Henry

Red Henry

Just a reminder to everyone that our big 5-DVD for $89 sale ends at midnight tonight (Sunday, Feb. 28th). Put your orders in if you'd like to take advantage of this great offer! We'll send your DVDs out tomorrow.


Red Henry

Red Henry

As Casey mentioned yesterday, we have a sale going on: Call us on the phone, and take your choice of any 5 Murphy Method DVDs for just $89. And folks are really calling! I was busy all day yesterday taking and packing orders. The sale ends on the 28th, just 9 days away, so give us a call.

I'll be on the phone myself most of today: 800-227-2357! Talk to you soon!


Red Henry

Red Henry

Now, this little blog isn't about banjo picks, so rest easy that there won't be any battles started about those. There are as many opinions about banjo picks as there are banjo players!

But today's story is about FLATPICKS. We sometimes take them for granted, but not everyone knows what they are. Once a lady had seen our ad for the "Flatpicking Guitar DVD", and called us to ask, "What does 'flat picking' mean?" Well, we did our best to explain, but if you don't know what a flatpick is, then this won't mean much to you.

I have a particular, favorite kind of flatpick. These were made of a particular kind of plastic by just a few companies (such as Gibson), and they're no longer made. Well, I had hoarded about a dozen of these picks, and I used or lost less than one a year, thinking they were a lifetime supply. Then, about a year ago, I put them in a safe place.

Well, you know what that means. I lost them. They were so safe that I couldn't remember where I'd put them. I looked in every great "safe place" I could think of. I only had two of the picks that I hadn't put away, and I thought maybe those two would have to be my lifetime supply...

That is, until two days ago. The picks were on a shelf in in plain sight, and fell off when I put something else on that shelf. There they were, my favorite plastic. Good grief.

The moral of all this (if one exists) applies not just to flatpicks but also to banjo thumbpicks, and is in three parts:

(1) Don't get attached to just one kind of plastic for your picks;

(2) Use lots of different kinds of picks, like Bill Monroe did, so that your fingers are used to variety and can adapt to other kinds of plastic; AND--

(3) When you put your picks in a safe place, Don't put them in too safe a place. Put them in a place you can find again!

Everybody pick purty--


Red HenryFolks, we're happy to announce that we have TWO great Murphy Method videos now available on DVD. The first one is "Great Banjo Tunes" (the old video was called "Advanced Banjo"), and it lives up to its name. These are the great lessons included on it:

Great Banjo Tunes cover

Great Banjo Tunes cover

The Gold Rush
Shenandoah Breakdown
Bill Cheatham
Dixie Breakdown
Kansas City Railroad Blues  (taught by Casey)
Limehouse Blues

--as you can see, these are some of the very most popular numbers that come up in jam sessions around the whole country! As always, the tunes are taught note-by-note by ear, the Murphy Method way. We've had a lot of requests for this DVD, and now it is here!

. . . . .

Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar Vol 2 cover

Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar Vol 2 cover

Our second new DVD is called "Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar Volume 2" (the old videotape was titled "Basic Bluegrass Runs Vol.2"). We've also had many, many requests to make this available on DVD, and we've begun sending them out already. This follows on our very popular Volume 1, which we released last year.

Both of these new DVDs are IN STOCK and READY TO SHIP! Just order through our website for prompt shipping and good picking!

Red HenryWe've had several inquiries lately about which of our old videotapes we'll be converting soon to DVD. Actually, the possibilities are more and more limited, since almost all of our old videos are either converted or on the way! We're already brought out seven DVDs in 2009!

Here are the DVD projects we're working on for the rest of the year:

1. Great Banjo Tunes (was “Advanced Banjo”): These DVDs should be here in about a week.

2. Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar Vol.2 (was "Basic Bluegrass Runs on Guitar Vol. 2):  Also due in about a week.

3. More Advanced Earl: This DVD is actually all ready to go, but the music publishers are dallying about sending us the licenses we've asked for. We hope to have the required licenses, and the DVDs pressed, within the next two months.

4. Rawhide and Other Banjo Favorites: This project's in the same situation as More Advanced Earl. As soon as we have the music licenses, we'll send the DVD off to be pressed!

When these projects are in our hands, that will make eleven DVDs we’ve brought out this year!

If you have any questions about our DVD conversion schedule, feel free to write us via the "Contact Us" function on the Murphy Method website. We'll answer any questions we can!