Dick Brown was introduced to the banjo and bluegrass while in high school in NM in 1963. After graduation he moved to OK where he met and took some lessons from Gary Price. He joined the military in 1966 and during that time he spent a number of years stationed in Phoenix where he played in the band, Traditional Bluegrass for many years. After he retired from the military, he moved to So Calif where he played with the band, Pacific Crest, and then joined the bluegrass band Lost Highway. He toured with them for over ten years, teaching banjo workshops while performing at the many festivals throughout the U.S., Canada and while on tour in Europe. During that time he had the privilege of instructing at the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop (BCBW) for several years, teaching beginning, intermediate and advanced banjo classes with colleagues and friends such as Ron Block, Greg Cahill and Janet Beasley. He has taught workshops with Bill Evans, Sammy Shelor and Chris Pandolfi. After moving back to Phoenix in 2002, he continued playing with Lost Highway until 2006. He left the band and helped form the bluegrass band, Sawmill Road and played with them until they disbanded in 2010. He has since played with Copper River and the Old Blue Band. After he moved back to Phoenix, he started teaching more full time and has had great success with many students, giving them the fundamental techniques they needed to become solid players. He says “I’ve always told my students that I wanted to teach them HOW to play the banjo, not necessarily WHAT to play. But always remember what Earl, JD and Bill Emerson say……the melody is the most important thing.” He has a tab book that he put together of tabs that he uses and concentrates of right and left hand techniques. In May of 2010 he was honored to be featured on the cover of Banjo Newsletter. He has been featured on over 16 bluegrass albums since 1995.
In this course we will focus on playing with good tone, good timing, and the right amount of volume. We will learn some specifics of right and left-hand techniques to improve your skills on the banjo, give you more confidence, and help you to develop good practice habits. Concentrating first on learning the melody of a song or tune, we can work in fill notes, which are the foundation to creating simple solos, or what is known in jamming with others as a “break”. In addition to technique we will also discuss the importance of jam etiquette, and dive a little deeper into improvisation which frees students to break away from a tune. Instruction will be in both ear training and tablature. We will also cover backup techniques and how they fit into a band or jam setting. Because our banjo classes have been smallish, we have one instructor for all levels with an assistant instructor to help the more novice folks. If we have enough students we will have 2 levels with different instructors. (TBA)
Students must have familiarity with the basic open and preferably some closed chord shapes, and be able to change between chords in basic keys although we will cover this in class. It would be helpful to have a basic understanding standard repertoire of bluegrass songs and Scruggs arrangements and licks on the banjo.
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.