The Banjo Dojo

I am not going to show you my art. I am going to share it with you. If I show it to you it becomes an exhibition, and in time it will be pushed so far into the back of your mind that it will be lost. But by sharing it with you, you will not only retain it forever, but I too will improve.

Ed Parker

The Banjo Dojo offers a unique look at learning to make music with the five-string banjo. We teach by building technique upon technique and concept upon concept, the way martial arts has been taught for generations.

Our motto is, No tab, No styles and No excuses.

The Banjo Dojo is not a method. We do not teach any particular genre of music. We view music as a universal language. Rather than memorizing notes of a song or flavor of the month methodology, The Banjo Dojo provides students with the tools to express themselves artistically and interact with other musicians regardless of style or instrumentation.

The Video Series

The Banjo Dojo video series on YouTube offers self-paced instruction one video at a time. This series is free of charge, but it is up to the student to practice and master the technique or concept in each video before moving on.

Banjo Dojo Weekends

The Banjo Dojo hosts weekend retreats in Crisfield, Maryland. These workshops are held in an atmosphere of respect for the craft, yourself and your fellow students. You will find the experience challenging, but if you practice the techniques as presented you will learn.

Banjo Dojo Weekend Rules

Learning the five-string banjo is a challenge. The rules of The Banjo Dojo are in place to foster an environment of empowerment, self-respect and self-discipline. Most of all, we want to make wonderful music!

  • Students will be given a uniform at the beginning of the weekend. This uniform is to be worn on the dojo floor.
  • We will also provide appropriate footwear. No street shoes on the dojo floor.
  • Arrive on time for sessions with your instrument ready to play.
  • The beginning of a session will be signaled by the instructor turning the lights off and on.
  • If you arrive late to a session stand off to the side until you are addressed by the instructor.
  • Be thoughtful of your fellow students. Do not make unnecessary noise.
  • No phones, cameras, recording devices or writing implements on the dojo floor.
  • No titles. Simply address your instructor and fellow students by name.
  • Be positive. If/when you get frustrated with a technique or concept, wait until a break between sessions to talk to your instructor.

Banjo Dojo Workshop Levels

To avoid words like beginner, intermediate or advanced, The Banjo Dojo weekends are ranked by the color of your uniform shirts. Every student, if you have been playing for ten minutes or ten years, starts at the beginning wearing a white shirt. Advancement from white to gray, yellow, green, blue and black requires mastery of a set group of skills and concepts.

Moving to another rank simply means that person has mastered some skills and concepts. Applying those skills in a musical setting will take time.

The Banjo Dojo Student Ranking

Gray Shirt:

  • 4/4 count
  • Posture
  • The Strike
  • The Strum
  • Practicing While Standing
  • Eighth Note Count
  • The Thumb
  • Rhythmic Pattern One
  • Basic Chords
    • C
    • F
    • D7
  • Playing And Singing
  • Jamming

Yellow Shirt:

  • Volume Control
  • Tempo
  • X And Y Positions
  • Salt And Pepper Techniques
    • Hammers
    • Pulls
    • Slides
  • Basic Music Theory
  • Movable Major Chord Forms
  • 3/4 Count
  • Rhythmic Exercises in 3/4
  • Rhythmic Exercises in 4/4
  • The Chop
  • Basic Minor Chords
  • Basic Chord Progressions
  • Playing and Singing
  • Jamming

Green Shirt:

  • Introduction To Teaching
  • Full Chord Hammers
  • Bends
  • Major Scale Patterns
  • Blending Melody and Rhythm
  • Licks
    • Example Lick 1
    • Example Lick 2
    • Example Lick 3
  • Phrasing
  • Transposing
  • Solo Backup
  • Rhythmic Exercises in 3/4
  • Rhythmic Exercises in 4/4
  • Melodic Exercises
  • Harmonics
  • Playing And Singing
  • Jamming

Blue Shirt

  • Minor Keys
  • Minor Scale Patterns
  • Transposing
  • Blues
  • Bluegrass
  • Tunes
  • Alternate Tunings
  • Performing
  • Speed
  • Introduction To Improvisation
  • Playing And Singing
  • Jamming

Black Shirt

  • Final Test