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Introduction to Bluegrass Banjo

Bluegrass banjo has without a doubt been the most popular style of playing the banjo since the 1940’s.  It was about 1945 when Earl Scruggs joined “Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys.” Earl had developed a syncopated three-finger picking style using his thumb, index, and middle fingers that we now know as bluegrass. In 1948 Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt left Bill Monroe’s group and started a group of their own called “The Foggy Mountain Boys.”

If you are a beginner with no musical background, bluegrass banjo might present quite a challenge to you. I usually recommend that beginners start out playing clawhammer style because it is less demanding on the right hand. Having said that, if you really love the bluegrass style and don’t care much for clawhammer, go for it -- the most important thing is that you really like the music you are learning to play, and you will probably make more progress learning something difficult that you enjoy than learning something less difficult that you don’t enjoy.

Most of the songs in this section consist of three arrangements of increasing difficulty. Using this method you can advance at your own pace. If you are just starting out you may want to just stick with Level 1 for a while, then progress as you feel comfortable doing so.

 

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