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My name is Bill and I play and teach banjo in Little Rock — specifically, the central Little Rock area. I've played banjo since I was in high school in the mid-70's
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I teach bluegrass banjo lessons in my home studio right here in Little Rock. I taught some in the early 80's, then took off 20 years or so to work a "real job." After that became "unreal" in 2004 (I was a victim of a multinational corporate merger — pretty impressive, huh?) I decided to start teaching again and have loved it ever since.

I've taught old guys, waitresses, grade school and college kids, lawyers... they all learned differently, but they all shared one thing in common: the same love for and fascination with the five-string bluegrass banjo that I've had ever since I could remember.

My first banjo listening experience was via television — my local station in El Dorado, Arkansas, carried the Flatt and Scruggs TV show, as well as the Lewis Family. Both featured stellar banjo playing which had a trance-like effect on me. It just mystified me how those guys (Earl Scruggs and Little Roy Lewis, respectively) could play so many notes, so fast, and make it sound like real music. I was hooked from the beginning and determined eventually to learn to play the thing.

"Eventually" didn't happen until high school, and, not having a teacher, or at least a good banjo player close by to learn from, it didn't really open up for me until I was in college. I had a decent enough banjo and knew how to wear the picks and tune the thing, but hadn't been able to decode the Scruggs style.

 


Breaking Down "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"
Lick by Lick

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Then one night, whilst cramming for a Poli-Sci final, I had my banjo close by and was practicing during (frequent) breaks. I had a turntable with the "Foggy Mountain Banjo" LP on it. The turntable had a 16 RPM setting. So there I was, listening intently to Cripple Creek at half speed and an octave low — if anyone had walked in, they would have thought I had gone around the bend. But I figured it out, slowly, note by note, and my banjo playing life was changed forever.

Now, in an effort to save other people from the trouble I went through, I teach. I start with the basics. Is the banjo at least semi-decent to begin with? (Many aren't.) Is it set up properly? Do you have picks and know how to wear them properly? (Don't be ashamed, it's really counter-intuitive.) Then it's on to open string rolls, a few basic chords and licks, and finally (dat da da DAAAA!) Cripple Creek! Still one of my all-time favorites. You'd think I'd be sick of that song by now, but I love it.

So now you know that (and why) I play and teach banjo, but I want this site to be more than an advertisement for me. Here I'll be posting tabs, audio and video files, offering helpful hints, displaying pictures of my instruments and generally attempting to indulge my love for the banjo and hopefully increase yours.

And maybe along the way, you (or someone you know) might want some banjo lessons. I can do that.
 
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