Banjo Update #3 — The Oh Susanna Hoedown

I’m now 25 days good at the banjo but at this point it’s no longer worth counting as there were large stretches of days where I didn’t play at all.

The banjo picks came in the mail and while they didn’t make me the virtuoso I was hoping for, the benefits are already noticiable. First of all the thumb pick, while still plastic, is extremely heavy, thin and sharp. This makes for more accurate thumb picking but a more clumsy sounding thumb strum. It’s forcing me to use my other fingers to strum chords, or a combination of fingers and thumb.

The metal picks are smaller which minimizes the guessing game I referenced in the other banjo blogs. The sound isn’t notically different, but the different size seemed to reduce my stumbling when attempting to play with any speed. It may also just be the fact that I’ve been practicing a lot, who knows. I can’t watch the World Cup without a Banjo in my hand. When the World Cup ends in a few weeks I hope I don’t find that I can’t play the Banjo without Soccer. Maybe a Vuvuzela and Banjo duet? Dueling Vuvuzelas?

The song I learned for this update was Oh Susanna and it’s probably a step down in difficulty from “…Coming ‘Round the Mountain”. I didn’t create a video this time. Instead I poorly recorded the song with Garageband and my Mac’s built in speakers. I then recorded 4 additional tracks to create the questionably named Oh Susanna Hoedown; an acoustic guitar, accordion and mandolin.

I realized that I can’t play it at more than 80 BPM yet and it doesn’t really sound like a hoedown until you reach 120. I settled for 100 BPM but couldn’t quite keep up with the banjo. I stopped being concerned though and realized this is 25 days good, not concert good. I can’t do any better than this today, but there’s hope.


Up next, the Steve Martin favorite Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

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