Hi All,

As of Monday, I have two banjo students! One is a 16 year old, have been playing for about a year (did play 2/3 of the Sunflower Dance in concert a few weeks ago, pretty well too.) and the other is a Bass student of mine taking up the banjo as a second instrument starting Monday. He's 11 years old.

I've been thinking to start working through the "Ellis thorough school for the five stringed banjo" with both of them (also a good opportunity for me to properly work through that tutor :-) ).

Do you think that's a good idea or is there better tutor books to work with? For some reason, I feel I would like to work with historical tutor books (if that is the correct term) rather than books of today. There's no real reason for that, just a feeling, so if anyone has good reason to work with modern books, I'm not against it.

I would be very thankfull for any thoughts and ideas.

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Hi there - I am not a teacher so hopefully others will offer advice but I do think the Ellis book would be good as it offers parts for first and second banjo - you could accompany the student and then the student could accompany you.  I also like the Grimshaw method book - it has a useful section on reading banjo notation (music notation adapted for the banjo).  I would also try and encourage a student to get away from notation (or tab) and play a tune from scratch - hearing the melody and figuring it out on the banjo.  

When I first started to play the 5string banjo my teacher would give me tabbed out tunes to play.  It was useful for learning the basics but I then got tab dependant and stuck on playing a tune one way.  I think it would have been helpful if I had been taught early on things like playing accompaniment, finding the melody notes in different places, playing variations and in different keys etc.  Eddie Collins has written some good books that show this kind of thing but it is bluegrass-orientated.   

Thanks for your input, Carrie!

I haven't looked into the Grimshaw "How to play the banjo", only the "How to excel...". It looks really good, after a short peek. I will definately use that one. Lots of usefull stuff and seems to move ahead in a good, slow speed. A combination of the Grimshaw and the Ellis seems to me to be a good way to go. As you wrote, the short duo pieces in Ellis is really excelent and we can have lots of fun playing together!

I will definitely teach them to read music. The one I had for a year is alredy good on his way and the 11 year old reads music already, since I had him as a double bass student for two (or is it three?! getting old and forgetting things...) years.

On a side note. I teach groups of kids Ukulele in schools, age between 7 and 10. Once, I tried for 45 min to teach a group of kids the concept of tab. They just didn't get it! I was so amazed. I mean, it seems to be the most logical thing, right? And at the same time, those kids have no trouble at all to understand how to play from written music. I thought that I was just bad at explaining things but then I talked to the Headmistress (is that even a word? The female form of Headmaster?) about it and she could totally understand that they didn't get tab. So go figure....

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