If you have heard me reminisce over my days learning my trade in Philadelphia or read about my exploits in Just This Banjo, you already know that I was mentored by some amazing musicians.
For as long as I can remember, old-time banjo was about singing. Peggy Seeger and Elizabeth Cotten sang when they gave me my first pointers and every good frailing banjo player I have known since then has been a singer. The solo melody players always struck me like Bobcat Goldthwait trying to pass as a mime.
I was told from day one to sing, and never mind that I couldn’t hear. The craft is the craft. I was told flat-out to either cowboy up or take up a hobby that won’t require effort.
In these videos, I am not playing from tablature. Frailing banjo is an improvisational approach to music. I simply note the time signature, pick a key I think will work with my voice and then use my singing as a guide through the melody and chord progression. People tell me that it seems hard, but it is a million times easier than memorizing tab files note by note. I mean, I don’t have to remember anything and there is no end to the music I can make. It isn’t talent. It isn’t a gift. It is simply frailing banjo.
This YouTube playlist is not a jukebox. I am not singing for your entertainment. I am simply applying the craft so that our students can see basic concepts and techniques in action.
If you would like to learn, visit us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Dobro33H
The black boxes bolted on either side of my head in some of these videos are a bilateral BAHA implant or Bone Anchored Hearing Aid. If I am not wearing them, I can barely hear my voice and I am playing largely by feel.