I think a progressive repertoire is useful. I have both of Bob Flesher's books. I find the tabs in his supposedly beginner book, Learning Minstrel Banjo, way more difficult than the tabs in his more advanced book, The Minstrel Banjo Stroke Style. The latter book is arranged from easy to more difficult, and includes a CD with all of the tunes. My personal repertoire is almost entirely from the first third of that latter book--Do Mr. Booker Do, Circus Jig, Gal with the Blue Dress On, Get Up in the Morning, Jim Along Josie, Cotton Pod Walkaround. Flesher describes these early tunes as "more clawhammer like" (or something like that) and I agree that that is what makes them easier to learn. Basic stroke style tunes were the easiest for me and now that I am getting the hang of things I am picking things up much more quickly. But having that CD with versions that exactly match the tab has been a big help for me. I look forward to moving beyond that crutch, although I am glad that I am picking things up somewhat by ear, because in addition to learning old tunes that haven't been heard in over a century, I also want to be able to learn things that have been recorded but never written down.
My next big hurdle is triplets, which Flesher just throws in there but doesn't really explain. I understand the concept, but can't quite make them sound right.
How useful are the right hand fingerings to you, and do you find yourself using them exactly, or as needed? Also, do you just play tunes, or are exercises of any benefit