Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I am new to Minstrel Stroke Style Banjo playing, having being exposed to it at the North Country Banjo Gathering at Terry’s in Caro MI.  After that grand gathering, I decided to learn more about the style so, I looked for some books on Amazon.

I found a book that I would like to recommend to other fledgling stroke style players.

It is titled “With My Banjo On My Knee” The Minstrel Songs of Stephen Foster.

The reasons I liked the book are as follows,

1)   I was familiar with 5 of the 14 songs right away. Oh Susanna; Camptown Races; Ring, Ring the Banjo; Old Folks at Home; and My Old Kentucky Home. I learned them in grade school.

2)   Each song has tablature and also has music notation.

3)   The book comes with a CD recording of each song. Some tracks are double with     background bones for accompaniment.

4)   The historical notes on each musical piece add to the atmosphere of the piece.

5)   Expanded lyrics for each song are included in the back of the book.


Being familiar with 5 of the songs gave me a good head start and the confidence in learning to play and sing them using stroke style. 

Views: 237

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Welcome Rizal!  i still want to pick that book up, amongst others (including the latest from John!).  

Have you printed out Briggs and the tablature available online yet?  They are great and free!  The videos on this site are also priceless for helping you learn - I couldn't have learned without them being as visual and hands-on as I am.


Thanks for the info. I am new to this site so, I am not familiar with "John", Can you give me a title for his book?
I have printed out some tab but, I like to become familiar with the tune before I approach the tab. You are right, the videos here and on Youtube can really be helpful. And the CD's from Tim Twiss are great, they help with the timing.
Thanks for the suggestions

Be sure to visit the "Resource" tab above....then go to "lessons". Let us know if they were helpful, or if you even noticed them on the way in to this site. I think we often overlook this stuff.

Hi again Rizal,

John Masciale, here's the link for more info on his book from this site:  http://minstrelbanjo.ning.com/forum/topics/i-like-that-good-old-son...

I'll second Tim on the "Resource" tab and "Lessons", it's where I started and got all the stuff I mentioned in my last post.  Should have mentioned my sources then but just assumed you saw the tab already, sorry bout that!  

Welcome, and congrats on the new "tub."  I saw some of Terry's work at the Early Banjo Gathering, and they were very nice.

I found some arrangements in the Foster book to be a bit flat, but It was presented well with a nice clear grouping of Foster's lyrics.

My biggest complaint is that they choose to put the music in "G" and "D" based on the pitch presented in the Briggs' Banjo Instructor.  The reason I say that is that besides Briggs' and transposing violin pieces, the vast majority of music for the banjo published before 1907 is written three semitones higher.

That said, it was a nice that the authors were trying to add to the repertoire with new banjo music.

My favorite beginners books are a combination.

Frank Converse's "Green" 1865 book is wonderful, though it really is not necessary to devote much time to all the keys he gives out side of A, E, D... their minors and A minor at first.



Converse's 1872 book is good also.




As a matter of fact, you really cannot go wrong with FBC.


Follow that up with the 1858 James Buckley book and you are on your way, Tim still has that up I think.

Tim Twiss and Greg Adams put together a great packet as well, Tim referenced it above.


Thanks much for your info. It really helps a "newbie"


I followed the Resource Tab and watched all 8 of the videos. Your lessons were very helpful especially the Brigg's movements on triplets. Thanks for putting these together. 

Tim Twiss said:

Be sure to visit the "Resource" tab above....then go to "lessons". Let us know if they were helpful, or if you even noticed them on the way in to this site. I think we often overlook this stuff.

Reply to Discussion



John Masciale created this Ning Network.

© 2020   Created by John Masciale.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service