Hello,

I’m relatively new to classic banjo, having first picked it up a couple of years ago in my early 50s.  I’ve had some success with pieces in collections and method books, but most recently I’ve been working on “A Banjo Oddity” by Joe Morley and so far it’s my favorite piece to play!  It suits my abilities while still being challenging, and musically it’s high quality!  Can anyone recommend other pieces for me to explore that are similar in difficulty (i.e. “easy”-ish) while still musically interesting?  Thank in advance! 

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Thank you  for your kind words Joel. I was taught to  play the banjo by L.W.Howe, he had been taught by David Miner, a friend of Parke Hunter. I still remember his various bits of advice about playing the banjo and how to use your time productively. Steady progression, not running before you can walk, and introducing new techniques as a development process. The use of tuneful exercises (I still think that  Grimshaw's tutor book is the best in this respect) to maintain interest and the use of accessible (from a technical point of view) solos which required the mastery of additional skills was his way of teaching. 

Jody Stecher said:

I like how you think, Richard.

Richard William Ineson said:

I chose these three solos because they all have something different to  teach you.

I also agree about Grimshaw. But I'm Jody, not Joel   :-)

Richard William Ineson said:

Thank you  for your kind words Joel. I was taught to  play the banjo by L.W.Howe, he had been taught by David Miner, a friend of Parke Hunter. I still remember his various bits of advice about playing the banjo and how to use your time productively. Steady progression, not running before you can walk, and introducing new techniques as a development process. The use of tuneful exercises (I still think that  Grimshaw's tutor book is the best in this respect) to maintain interest and the use of accessible (from a technical point of view) solos which required the mastery of additional skills was his way of teaching. 

Jody Stecher said:

I like how you think, Richard.

Richard William Ineson said:

I chose these three solos because they all have something different to  teach you.

Please accept my most sincere apologies, my only excuse fo this appalling lapse is my fast fading brain which, like the rest of my crumbling body is 77 years old. Anyway, thank you for your kind thoughts Jody and I trust that I have not offended you.

Jody Stecher said:

I also agree about Grimshaw. But I'm Jody, not Joel   :-)

Richard William Ineson said:

Thank you  for your kind words Joel. I was taught to  play the banjo by L.W.Howe, he had been taught by David Miner, a friend of Parke Hunter. I still remember his various bits of advice about playing the banjo and how to use your time productively. Steady progression, not running before you can walk, and introducing new techniques as a development process. The use of tuneful exercises (I still think that  Grimshaw's tutor book is the best in this respect) to maintain interest and the use of accessible (from a technical point of view) solos which required the mastery of additional skills was his way of teaching. 

Jody Stecher said:

I like how you think, Richard.

Richard William Ineson said:

I chose these three solos because they all have something different to  teach you.

Richard, I was not and am not the slightest bit offended.  I just happen to not be Joel, so I pointed it out.  

"Introducing new techniques as a development process"  has worked for me as a teacher. My students improve that way. Their capability with various techniques is not the only thing that improves. Their self-confidence improves and that makes them more able as learners and as musicians.

I like the Grimshaw exercises because they have musical merit. For many or most beginners the task of practicing exercises that sound like exercises kills enthusiasm. Emil Grimshaw created exercises that sound like banjo music.  Good musicians can turn other exercises, even the most apparently boring ones into lovely music.   But beginners typically cannot.  

That is exactly how I see the Grimshaw exercises, I remember playing them with pleasure rather than as work and because they had musical merit they didn't annoy people who had to listen to me getting to grips with them.

Jody Stecher said:

Richard, I was not and am not the slightest bit offended.  I just happen to not be Joel, so I pointed it out.  

"Introducing new techniques as a development process"  has worked for me as a teacher. My students improve that way. Their capability with various techniques is not the only thing that improves. Their self-confidence improves and that makes them more able as learners and as musicians.

I like the Grimshaw exercises because they have musical merit. For many or most beginners the task of practicing exercises that sound like exercises kills enthusiasm. Emil Grimshaw created exercises that sound like banjo music.  Good musicians can turn other exercises, even the most apparently boring ones into lovely music.   But beginners typically cannot.  

To me, the Grimshaw exercises are just that.  And while musical and amusing, they each teach a lesson.  I have noticed that on the rare occasion someone posts a video of them playing one, they tend to entirely ignore the lesson.  Usually it is the dynamics that are absent with no regard to the tempo marking. 

For my own personal amusement on idyll evenings I dive into what I call "short pieces".  These are all those two part jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas, schottisches, waltzes, etc. that are found in the various tutors, Turner's collections, or books like Bickford's Favorite, Turner's 101, or the mountain of A notation stuff both bound and single sheet format.  I can waste hours reading that stuff and I never seem to run out. 

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