Avram Siegel is widely regarded as one of the most original banjo players to emerge from the San Francisco Bay Area bluegrass scene striving to keep his bluegrass playing fresh and exciting while capturing the essence of the traditional Scruggs style. At the same time he is willing to explore styles outside the bluegrass genre that can take advantage of the rhythmic nature of the banjo. Avram’s musical background is widely varied and over the past four decades as a banjo and guitar teacher,  he has developed a comprehensive method that has launched successful performing careers of many California musicians. His stylistic versatility has placed him touring and recording in a wide variety of bands, from the Vern Williams Band and Peter Rowan to the Kathy Kallick Band and True Blue.

He can most recently be heard performing with the exciting new bands: The Faultliners and Scott Law’s Bluegrass Dimension as well as an innovative duo with great resonator guitarist, Mike Witcher. In a departure from the bluegrass world, Avram has also been participating with a fantastic unique multi-style cross up celebrating the African roots of the banjo as well as jazz and combining a modern jazz band with traditional African instruments and the banjo and fiddle from the bluegrass world in a band/project by renowned jazz guitarist Pascal Bokar called the Afro Blue Grazz Band.

CLASS: Novice/Intermediate banjo with Avram Seigel

Some ultimate goals in to learning to play the banjo are being able to play with solid timing, to create your own breaks, and to improvise fluently. In this class you will add to and build on what you’ve already learned in order to do just that. We will see how melody, harmony, and rhythm work together and learn how to present ideas effectively.

Topics to be covered in this class will be, among other things:

  • Working up your own solos and licks
  • Playing rhythm and backup and learning more about fitting the banjo into a band setting
  • Playing in unfamiliar keys
  • Learning your way around the fingerboard
  • Learning some specifics of right and left hand technique to improve your tone, timing and speed
  • Learning to break away from arrangements picked up from tabs (often the big challenge for people wanting to move their playing to a new place)


Students must have familiarity with the basic open and closed chord shapes, and have proficiency changing between them. They should know some of the standard repertoire of bluegrass songs and Scruggs arrangements and licks on the banjo. Also, students should be comfortable with basic roll patterns associated with the style.

You will need a 5 string banjo, a set of fingerpicks, a thumbpick, and a capo.  It is also advisable to bring a notebook and writing utensil.