A Site Dedicated to all enthusiasts of Classic Style Banjo
I have been going through some tutor books listed on the site. Right now I am working my way through this book below. It is very informative but some of the exercises are dry. In your opinion what is the best tutor book?
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Ooo… I have opinions ;-)
The Grimshaw exercise book is very good for people who have advanced past the basic course of studies. If one is working with a teacher then the teacher might be able to assign specific exercises out of it. Otherwise the tyro should wait until they have completed all the basics.
I try to keep from saying anything discouraging, but in most of the videos I’ve seen of people playing these exercises, I don’t remember one where they are using them for the specific point that it was teaching.
Grimshaw seems to have intended these for people who were at a point that reading and playing all the notes in the exercises would not be a challenge. Each exercise is to help develop a specific skill, and the videos I’ve seen tend to neglect that lesson for just playing the notes.
They are not meant to be exciting or even that musical, they are exercises for developing techniques to be applied to solos. In the BMG there were “lessons” published on how to play certain solos. After this book came out those lessons would sometimes refer to a specific exercise to develop a skill needed in the solo.
As far as general instruction, I have landed on Bradbury’s Mel Bay method. It is extremely well graded and moves along at a reasonable pace. It is nice and clear and gives all the info one needs. While the music in it is not necessary performance solos (well a few are pretty good for that), they are not meant to be. It is a course of study. Learn everything in that book and then you are ready for some solid published solos.
I completely agree with Joel, in that the "Mel Bay's Banjo Method - C Tuning - Concert Style" is the way to go. I know it intimately well, as they commissioned me to do the sound files. You can hear them all for free here: https://robmackillop.net/bradbury-studies/
Listening to sound files can be useful, but don't copy them exactly, listen instead to the acknowledged masters of the genre. One of the greatest I've heard is William Ball. There are a few videos of his playing on YouTube. But the sound files might help you if the going gets tough. Good luck.
If you search for “Aaron Jonah Lewis Classic Banjo Lessons Episode 1” you’ll see that he’s using the Bradbury tutor. I’ve decided to teach myself using Aaron’s YouTube lessons; Thanks Aaron.
This is the best book in my opinion.