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.
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...
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.
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
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
lessons. I can do that.