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The Five-String Banjo in the Music Classroom

By Kenneth H. Smith


The banjo is an instrument of unique image and sound. It has a long history in North America from its arrival on slave ships from North Africa to its contemporary use in jazz and popular music. Adding the instrument to the general music classroom can open new realms of timbre and new avenues of exploration into the instruments of cultures around the world. Two popular styles of playing the banjo are the clawhammer style of strumming and the Scruggs style that uses finger picking. Both styles are simple to learn, and students can begin making music and accompanying singing in a few short lessons. However, these styles will take years of practice to master, and they lend themselves to experimentation and improvisation that lead to each player’s development of unique personal styles. This article provides basic instruction and directions to start playing in both banjo styles

Year: 2016
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