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Watch the Clawhammer Banjo online guitar lesson by Cathy Fink from Clawhammer Banjo: Intermediate Module 1

Welcome to the first module of the Intermediate clawhammer banjo course: New tunes, new tunings and new techniques! I have been playing old-time banjo since 1974. I have listened, watched, listened, practiced, watched, jammed, listened over and over again. The old time music repertoire has been a constant sound track in my head.

My playing style is influenced by so many banjo players and recordings that I can not honestly say that it emulates any one player. In fact, it is my own way of playing with lots of influences starting with my first banjo teacher, Barry Luft of Calgary, Alberta. Through the many years I was able to hear and watch great players at festivals and concerts such as Mike Seeger, Tommy Thompson, Tommy Jarrell, Lily Mae Ledford, Ola Belle Reed, Reed Martin, Bob Carlin, Pete Seeger, Hedy West, and many, many more.

That said, I am not teaching here the "Tommy Jarrell" or the "Don Stover" or any specific version of any tune or song. I instead have chosen to teach relatively generic versions that are true to the musical form, but do not quote directly from any musical source. As you listen to contemporary and traditional players of clawhammer banjo, you will develop your own tastes and from there can choose to study more detail of specific regional or personal styles. My hope is that with this and my other courses, I've prepared you to do that, and to play along in jam sessions, and to learn to work out banjo tunes and arrangements on your own.

Every teacher has their own way of teaching and every player has nuances to their own playing. Whatever works and makes the music you want to make, go for it!

Enjoy the banjo-the practice time, the jamming time and the adventure of taking up this amazing instrument. And thanks for studying with me.

A special note to guitar players expanding your horizons at the banjo: Guitar playing, especially fingerpicking, uses the same left hand techniques as clawhammer banjo. That part will come easily to you, but the right hand will be a challenge, using completely different techniques and creating all new muscle memory. Try to spend enough time on the drills and early exercises so your right hand will be solid before you start adding your "guitar" knowledge to the left hand. Think of banjo as a completely different instrument instead of "another fretted instrument". There is crossover in left hand technique, but the right hand will take some time to get comfortable and accurate. Once you get it, it’s like riding a bike, it'll be with you forever.

Let's get started!