Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

With Tim's blessing, I thought that in addition to whatever regular TuneoftheWeek tunes there might be going on, I'd call an occasional "Tune of the Month" for beginner stroke players-  something very easy so as to encourage those of us who are just getting started in stroke/minstrel style playing, or who are hesitant to post beginner level videos.  No matter what your playing level...please jump in and try this pretty little tune.  Mistakes don't matter- sharing the fun of learning is the only goal.  Over time we all slowly build on our skills.

Here's a TOTM that's super easy!   Calabash Dance... from Converse's 1865 "Banjo without a Master", otherwise known as the "little yellow book".

Play it in the usual Briggs tuning of dGDF#A  (key of G)

Here is the Converse notation:

One tab can be found in Joe Weidlich's "More Minstrel Banjo" book.

And here is Tim Twiss' tab (thank you Tim!):

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Sounds good Barbra, keep up the good work.

Barbara:  Tim joked about my performance anxiety, in a recent posting but it's no joke.  I've started to post things on here and, like you, found that it took too much time, because I'd get near the end, get nervous and then the mistake would come.   In front of people, I make mistakes on simple passages that are no harder than playing scales!  Tim suggested that I go and play at an animal shelter, then he suggested working up to it by playing in front of stuffed animals!  Maybe that conversation took place here, can't recall.

Al, those are actually very good tips!

Barb, it sounded just great!   I too had to do quite a few takes just to get one mediocre one...even on a tune as simple as Calabash Dance.  I try to think of it all as good practice time.

Excellent Barb. 

Good, Barbara!

Barbara Mullin said:

Well, here goes nothin'.. spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get ONE take with a minimum of flubs.. 

Holy Cow..!  out of practice, performance anxiety, network slowdown..And... I'm in serious need of some thumb calisthenics..lol ..but it was fun.. ;o} thanks for the motivation !

Thank you very much for the encouragement...;o}

And Al, I found it best to focus on playing for myself.. forget the camera and focus on the enjoyment of playing.. that worked best.  Then again, after 300 takes, I also found I was exhausted, so really didn't have energy to waste on worry.. lol    Better yet, have a continuously recording camera pointed on the seat where you practice and sooner or later you'll forget about the camera and have some good outtakes. 

Stuffed animals ?  Live animals... How about nursing homes?  not to be mean, but there would be a captive audience and if you're half way decent, they would probably really enjoy it and you'd get practice time.

I would do it with someone else but don't think I have the nerve to do it solo..  (  What do you say Strum ?  or Paul ??  I have an 'in' at Kingsway Arms  ;o}  )

....and drink your "banjo juice" first. It will give you the needed edge of courage, or make you not even care...ha ha. Either way, you will get a good take.

Banjo juice! ! Why didn't I think of that...

Sounding real good Barbara!

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