In this Live Workshop, Bill will take the two bluegrass banjo techniques that were added to Scruggs-style to create exciting bluegrass music from the 1950s to the present day. In melodic-style, you’ll explore the technique, theory, and repertoire (first developed by Bill Keith and others in the early 1960s) that allows you to play consecutive scale notes on different strings. In addition to the basics of the technique, Bill will explore different keys and advanced melodic positions that players like Noam Pikelny, Tony Trischka, Béla Fleck, and most contemporary bluegrass banjo players use. In single-string, you’ll learn to play the banjo as if you were playing with a flatpick, using an alternation of thumb and index finger to play melodic lines. Bill will start with basic exercises and then explore scale positions based on chord positions in closed and open positions, in different keys, and up and down the neck.
The workshop will consist of four sessions on melodic style and four sessions on single-string, starting, in each case, at the very beginning. But players already familiar with melodic and/or single-string banjo can gain valuable insights from Bill’s introductory sessions. From there, Bill will introduce more advanced repertoire and technique. In addition to learning repertoire and a variety of licks, you’ll come away from this workshop with a deeper understanding of melodic and single-string banjo that will undoubtedly add a whole new dimension to your playing.
Sessions will be held every other Saturday on Zoom, from 10 am to 11 am PST (1 pm to 2 pm EST), starting on January 22, 2022. After the workshop is complete, students will continue to have access to workshop recordings and materials when signed in to their Peghead Nation account.
Session #1: January 22, 2022
Session #2: February 5
Session #3: February 19
Session #4: March 5
Session #5: March 19
Session #6: April 2
Session #7: April 16
Session #8: April 30
Bill talks about what he’s going to cover in Melodic and Single-String Banjo
In Session 1, Bill will start with a bit of music theory and discuss how major scales are constructed out of sequences of half-step (one fret) and whole-step (two fret) intervals. From there, he’ll compare melodic and single-string technique, exploring how the G major scale is played in first position (down the neck) using each approach. He’ll put this knowledge to use by teaching both melodic and single-string versions of “The Girl I Left Behind Me” and will end Session 1 by showing you a simple melodic version of “Cripple Creek” and taking a look at melodic innovator Bill Keith’s classic version of “Devil’s Dream,” as he recorded it with Bill Monroe in 1963.