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Cathy Fink's Clawhammer Banjo

Thanks to modern science there's three ways to learn authentic clawhammer banjo: 1) Transport yourself to the early 1800's using MIT Professor Seth Lloyd's quantum teleportation theory and learn it directly from Joel Sweeney (a little risky as the theory is still in beta); 2) Head over to the J. Craig Venter Institute and request their in-patient genetic sequencing procedure with some of Sweeney's DNA (very expensive); 3) Pick up this interactive video course from Cathy Fink and start clawhammering tonight (very affordable, no needles and extremely effective).

Module 1 Video Introduction

Module 2 Video Introduction

Module 3 Video Introduction

Module 4 Video Introduction

Clawhammer banjo is a gas; highly rhythmic, super Americana, and absolutely guaranteed to trigger big smiles and tapping feet in your audience. Clawhammer refers to its down-picking technique where the hand forms a claw-like shape and the strings are struck by the fingers in a down-picking style. This unique picking style is what generates clawhammer banjo's signature sound.

box artLearn how to play clawhammer and you can legitimately adopt a cool stage name like the early clawhammer banjo pioneers Uncle Dave Macon, Grandpa Jones, Stringbean and Cousin Emmy. If you prefer a slightly more contemporary vibe you would likely prefer to channel players like Tommy Jarrell, Don Stover, Mike or Pete Seeger, Ola Belle Reed or Tommy Thompson.

box artIt's also a lot easier to learn than you would imagine largely due to Cathy Fink's engaging, hands-on educational approach -- you'll be making music immediately even if you're a flat-out beginner. And if you already play guitar, you'll have a set's worth of tunage under your belt within just a couple of weeks (plus, many well-known guitarists like Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler and Neil Young use the clawhammer strumming style in their guitar playing).

About the Banjo Lesson Plan

Interactive Video Banjo Instruction

box artIn Module 1, Cathy steps you through all of the basics, from both G and C tuning to right-hand techniques, chords, scales, hammers, pull-offs and slides. Along the way you'll learn to play Skip to My Lou, Cripple Creek, Sandy River Belle, Little Liza Jane, Buffalo Gals, Old Joe Clark, Shady Grove, This Little Light of Mine and Old Paint - enough of a sold repertoire to participate at the jams and treat family and friends to your new-found clawhammer banjo prowess!

box artIn Module 2, Cathy steps up your clawhammer banjo game with more cool tunings, chords, scales, insight and of course more songs for your repertoire, each filled with additional key techniques that you can use in hundreds and hundreds of songs. You'll learn Coming Round the Mountain, Careless Love, Walkin' in the Parlor, Needlecase, Mississippi Sawyer, Angeline the Baker, Soldier's Joy, and Get Along Home Cindy. Completing this module rounds out your clawhammer banjo chops with enough skills to take on virtually any song or standard banjo tune and lays a solid foundation for an advanced learning study program (coming soon from Cathy!) and a lifetime of enjoyment.

box artEverything is demonstrated and broken down note-by-note in full living color. The interactive lesson player equips you with handy tools for zooming, looping and for calling up charts, tab and notation with a single click. Slow and at tempo playalongs get you in the clawhammer groove quickly and accelerate the learning process. You will play your way through the course - no tedious theory or boring exercise to struggle through!

box artSkip the time travel and genetic splicing -- pick up Cathy Fink's Clawhammer Banjo series and treat yourself to one of the most enjoyable and musical learning experiences you will ever encounter. Oh, and start thinking about that cool stage name!

About Your Instructor

Cathy Fink

Cathy FinkSinger, songwriter, producer, engineer, banjo picker, guitar player and community activist, Cathy Fink lives an eclectic career in the music industry and beyond. She is not only well known as half of the GRAMMY winning duo, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, but for her volunteer efforts and activism within the music industry and on behalf of issues and organizations that care about children.

Cathy is one of the country's finest clawhammer banjo players. In 1980 she became the first woman to win the West Virginia State Old Time Banjo contest, an honor she earned 3 times. She has taught banjo, guitar, fiddle, vocal styles, harmony singing and songwriting at music camps such as Augusta, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Kaufman Kamp, California Coast Music Camp and Swannanoa since 1984.

Watch Now

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lessons from this course on TrueFire TV

Video Order Options

Student Discounts and TrueFire Cash can be applied!


For PC, Mac & Linux computers only. Not compatible on iPad, iPhone, Android or other mobile devices. For a list of our mobile apps, click here >>

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What you Get:

Video software (Windows and Mac) with TrueFire's Lesson Player, PIP, full-screen, looping, slow motion, keyboard shortcuts, plus...

  • - 240+ Minutes of Video
  • - Text Commentary
  • - Tab & Notation
  • - Power Tab


Early Beginner - Intermediate

Table of Contents

  1. Module 1
    - Holding the Banjo
    - Right Hand Basics #1-2
    - Using a Metronome
    - Take Your Time
    - RH Drills #1-4 Play-along
    - The G & D7 Chords
    - G - D7 Play-along
    - Skip To My Lou
    - The C Chord
    - C - G - D7 Play-along
    - Cripple Creek
    - Hammer-on Technique
    - Pull-off Technique
    - Slide Technique
    - Cripple Creek v2
    - Sandy River Belle
    - Little Liza Jane
    - Major Scale in G
    - Buffalo Gals
    - Using a Capo
    - Old Joe Clark
    - G Modal Tuning
    - Shady Grove
    - C Tuning
    - C-F-G-Am Chords in C Tuning
    - This Little Light of Mine
    - Old Paint
  2. Module 2
    - Fundamental Review
    - Banjo Setup and Selection
    Coming 'Round the Mountain
    - Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Careless Love
    - Breakdown & Play-along
    - Double C Tuning
    - Basic Chords in Double C
    - The C Scale
    - Tuning vs. a Capo
    Walkin' in the Parlor
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Mississippi Sawyer
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Angeline the Baker
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Soldier's Joy
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Get Along Home, Cindy
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
  3. Module 3
    - Tuning in G (and A)
    - Drop Thumbing
    - Drop Thumb: #1-6
    Cripple Creek: Dbl. Thumb
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    - Using a Capo
    Bill Cheatam
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Old Joe Clark
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    - Tuning in C (and D)
    Soldier's Joy
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Speed The Plow
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Mississippi Sawyer
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Old Molly Hare
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Fly Around My Pretty Miss
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Triplets in D
    Arkansas Traveler
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Triplets in A
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Red Wing
    - Chords & Breakdowns
    - Play-alongs
    Practice Tips & Conclusion
  4. Module 4
    - Flop Eared Mule: 1-6
    - Puncheon Floor: 1-6
    - Cluck Old Hen: 1-7
    - Twin Sisters: 1-6
    - Cold Frosty Morning: 1-6
    - Little Betty Ann: 1-7
    - Cumberland Gap Tuning: 1-3
    - Shoes and Stockings: 1-6
    - Sail Away Ladies: 1-6
    - Cumberland Gap: 1-8
    - D Tuning: 2 Parts
    - Reuben's Train: 1-6
    - Leather Britches: 1-6

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