Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

We have more members than the Classic Banjo Ning site, yet a mere fraction of the activity. Why do you think this is so?

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I would suspect there are more beginning members, who are attracted to these incredible instruments, the majority of whom feel more comfortable lurking and absorbing the information presented. Maybe I'm the strange one in having no fear. I hope many of the lurking members will post a comment in this discussion, getting the ball rolling, as it were. This is an amazingly supportive community to those of us who are just starting out.

Me----I'm spending too much time with the banjo! More site activity coming when I learn more about what I don't know.

I've talked to a lot of lurkers, there are a lot of people interested in the site.  As for me, I'm overly busy, and don't have time to cut videos. 

Just a couple of quick things-

1) The forum is very poorly laid out and is not conducive for folks to look through.  Instead of a giant mess called "Uncategorized" where ALL discussions are thrown in randomly together, there should be forums for general subjects, like: Repertoire and Tune Talk,  Banjo Building Repairs & problems,  Playing & Technique Questions, Banjo Mechanical Issues,  Other Minstrel era Instruments,  Banjo history,  Reenactor Talk,  Early Banjo Eye Candy....  all these and more could be separate forum categories into which people would create their own threads pertaining to those subjects.  Plus would make it way easier to find things about a subject on e is interested in.

2) "Featured" videos should be chosen of say 6 different members at a time, and changed up every few weeks.  this creates much commenting on videos and brings a focus to many different members who may have gotten overlooked.  "Featuring" tends to also bring back in older members to respond if they have slowly drifted away.

Similarly, "featuring" various members on a rotating basis stimulates participation as well.  

All this 'featuring' needs to be done by an admin or moderator, as members cannot 'feature' their own content. Keeping up with UNfeaturing and featuring new ones is a small housekeeping chore that should be done with some regularity.  It's easy to forget about it, but it does make a difference in stimulating activity.  Members need to feel like they are being noticed and appreciated, not just the few who post often.

I agree about the organization of the forum. When I first joined, I slogged through all the back posts, one by one. Not many people will take that kind of time. Having more defined categories would make it easier for people to find discussions of interest, and easier to ho back over older discussions. I like the idea of rotating featuring of videos as well, although i understand that some kind soul would have to do the work on it.

Geeeezzzz Tim. You really '"stirred the pot". By the way, I'm really enjoying your Early Banjo booklet and CD (and great collection of videos). FUN. And so I though was the Minstrel Banjo site (it's OK to say Minstrel?) in its present state. Many of the banjo sites have gone the way of PC, sniping, flaming, intolerance, etc., and I'm sure disappointed with what's emerging here today. No justifiable reason for disrespect, rudeness, personal attacks and/or snarkiness. I also think that ANY post over three sentences long should be banned. Be Happy, Happy Happy......it's the BANJO!  ;-)      (an 'Old' Beginning Member).

A forum titled "Beginner Questions" would be especially welcome by many, I imagine.  Beginners and newcomers to the site could both post question there and find threads on other questions (and answers) they might have as well.   :)

There is a very usable search function, so I don't see the lack of organization as a real problem.  It's nice to be able to see all the latest threads in one place.  This isn't banjo hangout, and we don't get that kind of traffic.  I'm not sure we really need to overdue it.  Also, as with many "fringe hobbies" (as I like to call them), I'd bet many people join the group, buy a Prust banjo, and after weeks or months abandon the hobby for any number of reasons, rendering their ning accounts dormant.

I agree with Dan'l that this forum isn't the best place to discuss the historical complexities of the early banjo, and that is a shame.  To me, the whitewashed (no pun intended) history of the early banjo some members adhere to removes so much of what makes the instrument fascinating, at least to me.  We can be happy and enjoy reviving this instrument and music, but at the same time we need to be very aware of its history.  Maybe we should view our playing more as ethnomusicologists than hobbyists. 

The search function is, indeed, quite good, if you have some idea of what you are looking for. Its very handy for finding videos of specific tunes, for example. However, for discussions, to a newbie, J think organization in categories would be most helpful.

I see, so you delete your post after making some pretty strong statements.  Seems kinda 'hit and run'.

As for me...I'm busy. My job is demanding, and my other musical interests are also demanding. I play bluegrass banjo and sing in one group. We don't gig a lot, but we do now and then, and we do play at 3 nursing homes every month. It's quite rewarding on a non-financial front! I play rhythm guitar and sing in a 50's-70's rock/blues/swamp pop band. Not a lot of gigs, but some. We practice weekly. It's fun, and it pays. I play minstrel banjo and sing (backup) in a Civil War period trio. Oddly, this one produces the most paying gigs! This is my newest musical endeavor, and it is my weakest. I came to this site to learn, and I am more comfortable absorbing what the rest of you put out there than I am displaying my progress (or lack thereof).
At the risk of sounding whiny, I'll say that some of the videos and discussions on this site are a little intimidating to the newbie. In all styles of music, I'm more comfortable playing by ear than using music, tab, etc. I can read music. I can read tab (although I don't like it). I played trumpet for many, many years (classical, marching band stuff, jazz), and I'm pretty well versed in music theory. Still, I'd rather play by ear. I don't think the ear-players are very welcomed here. I admire those of you who can muddle your way through Briggs and the others, but I get really bored with it and find myself wanting to find my own way. In our trio, we play a lot of songs in keys that aren't so easy in the low bass tuning. Rather than re-tune constantly, I'm quite comfortable playing chords and letting our vocals carry the tune. Maybe I'm not a very authentic player...or maybe I'm closer to the "typical" player of the day than you would think. Anyway, I still come back here periodically to learn and to enjoy the plethora of good videos. I just don't have time to record much, and I'm not inclined to, in the presence of so many who are so far beyond my skill level. 

Hi Dan'l

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