Abingdon VATue-Fri, Sept 17-20Jubilee House Retreat CenterInfo/Signup
Bristol TN (Free!)Sat, Sept 21Rhythm & Roots Reunion FestivalInfo/Signup
Raleigh NC (Free!)Fri-Sat, Sept 27-28IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass FestivalInfo/Signup
Charleston SCSat-Sun, Oct 26-27Banjo Intensive: Banjo as LanguageInfo/Signup
Charlotte/Dallas NCSaturday, Jan 18New Faith Baptist ChurchInfo/Signup
Nashville TNThu-Fri, Jan 30-31Sheraton Music City HotelInfo/Signup
Nashville TN (Free!)Sat, Feb 1SPBGMA conventionInfo/Signup
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It all looks the same on paper…. But the sound…. OHH THE SOUND.
It’s a sound that your feet can hear. – Gary SC

Tone, Taste, Touch and Timing and
Making your banjo rolls work.

So, yes you’ve got those strings and frets and fingers going, you can play tunes and make credible banjo music – but you’re still searching for that magic, driving, bouncing and lively sound that drew you to banjo in the first place. That’s good. You’re now at a place where you can pursue and achieve that sound. Gilbert has a knack for revealing things that may not be so obvious and so empowers banjo pickers to play with punch, spank and drive. We’ll explore the things that make the music come alive. Tone and touch on the strings, power (even at low volume) sustain, or staccato, bounce, dynamic changes, syncopation and so much more. Get yourself in on the next of these Tone, Taste, Touch and Timing Intensives as we refine our understanding and approach and actually make a difference in our banjo music.


Banjo as Language – Play like you talk

ex·tem·po·ra·ne·ous  (ĭk-stĕm′pə-rā′nē-əs) adj.
1. Carried out or performed with little or no preparation; impromptu:
an extemporaneous piano banjo recital.

You talk natural . . . so play the banjo natural!

We’ll present a banjo learning and playing worldview that works. Using banjo backup as our training ground, we identify a small and well defined vocabulary of skills which we canmaster and parlay into effective, interesting and fulfilling banjo music. Some of those skills are ones you already possess and we’ll learn some more to fill out your “vocabulary”. But this is about far more that another cliche or two. Banjo as Language is about a strategy for linking banjo sounds in unending patterns and pathways that make sense . . . unrehearsed . . . ones that you can achieve. What sounds complex may actually be very simple. We’ll use brain training, learning, techniques and strategies for getting there. And finally it’s about putting it all into action and context, actually using what you know, simple and elegant . . . with a frame of reference . . . really making banjo music . . . all evening long.


Banjo – Transposing and Playing in Other Keys

Open up your banjo world – comfort and ease – borne of understanding and plain old rubber on the road experience can be yours. Really it’s a matter of getting our perspective aligned with a new True North. If you can count your fingers then you can do this. A few rules and principles about that fifth string and your capo and we’re off to the races!

With this in your toolbox, then up the neck stuff (with actual content) gets accessible. Developing a couple or more basic (and repeatable) skills then gets you all kinds of backup for all the different keys. A couple more specialized (and repeatable) techniques and then, as we learn in Banjo as Language you can roll, vamp and play hot licks all night long.

We mostly will not address playing melody up the neck because that is best done in the context of the Earl’s Secret . . . intensive below.If you’ve completed that class then you may very well start unraveling up the neck melody all by yourself and of course, I’ll be there to help you.


I’m going home and burn my Jack Hatfield tab book! Courtney NM

Earl’s Secret – Melody Enveloped Within Rolls -Breaking The Code

This is it! The Holy Grail of banjo pickers! It sounds so wonderfully complex, this magical tapestry of cascading notes, weaving through the chords and the lyrics. You can learn ‘em the hard way if you want – note for note, lick for lick (the tab will take you there). But we’ll try and re-orient our musical mind around other priorities.

It’s about a few simple rules of the game. It’s about creating a new paradigm. It’s about orienting our ear around first the cadence, then the chords but last of all – the notes. (With the other stuff in place, they’ll almost take care of themselves.) It’s about some hard work to plow the field for the seed to sprout (brain training and an automatic hand) but then . . . oh then, the songs start to come easy and you can almost . . . or maybe you really can just kick that thing off and pretty much nail it first try! Now that’s something worth working for. I’ll give you the insight, the strategy, the learning techniques, to design your own original and very credible banjo solos. It’s a big part of Earl’s style, broken down so you can understand and employ it yourself. No More Tab – Not just copying licks by ear – but Real Playing By Ear!

To qualify you must:

♦ Complete Tone, Taste, Touch and Timing – Making your banjo rolls work.
♦ Hear and apply chords that make sense with the singing.
♦ You can listen to a short series of single notes and figure them out on your banjo fairly quickly.