Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Brent Helmick from Mechanicsville, Virginia


What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
I was raised listening to bluegrass and classic country on the AM dial. The only 2 concerts my dad ever thought was worth going to was the Easter Brothers and Ricky Skaggs, and they were free so that was probably the real reason. My mom was the church pianist, and my wife and 3 boys all play an instrument. Seeing how much joy they get out of playing and performing has really inspired me to learn music and play banjo. After following Ben online for a few years, and trying unsuccessfully to find a qualified local teacher, I finally took the step to take lessons on the banjo. I’m only disappointed that I didn’t join as a Gold Pick member sooner.

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I’ve had a banjo for 4 years now and I have tried time and time again to teach myself with books and YouTube, always ending up with the same result, frustrated, defeated, and demoralized. But then I took a very small step that ended up being a gigantic leap for me. I emailed Ben asking if someone like me, who’s never played an instrument can really learn from a guy online. His response was quick and confident. He suggested that I simply give it a try for 1 month. Without exaggeration, I have learned more in 1 month than I have on my own in 4 sporadic years. So much so that before that first month was over I joined as a lifetime member. I feel Ben truly believes in me and that has given me the much needed confidence I need. I feel like I’m getting a personal touch, yet also being a part of a group of folks all on the same journey who have the same questions and challenges that I have. I’m not just learning from Ben, it’s the whole group. Ben and his team helped me get over a big mental hurdle, and I’m grateful.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
Every lesson in the beginner banjo track has been a favorite and necessary for me. I greatly appreciate the attention to detail and quick responses to my questions. I’ve also learned a good bit by watching a few guitar lessons too.

What’s your goal when playing?
The goal of learning something new in every lesson and being able to apply it to the next. Of course the bigger goal is to play with other folks. One day, I sure would like to be able to roll up on a local bluegrass Friday night jam session and join in.

What’s your favorite hobby?
Oh you know the usual camping, scouting, hiking, and some disk golf now and then.

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
2 months

What do you do for a living?
I design networks for Verizon and I’ve also been in the Army National Guard for 18 years.


@brent.helmick congrats on the GPMotW and Welcome. I myself started 5 yrs ago at the ripe age of 56, AND like you got frustrated, so I gave it up until this summer when I lost my job and had tons of more time on my hands. Ben is such an awesome teacher. I have learned a ton of stuff on here. Everybody here is really nice and will answer any question you may have about the banjo or anything else for that matter. What kind of banjo are you currently playing?. I see you have your trusty sidekick there too.

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Hi Brent Congrats on being selected as this weeks Gold Pick Member of the Week. Glad to hear your finding @BanjoBen 's Forum a useful resource for your queries.

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Oohh, getting frustrated sometimes, 'ey ? Nèèèver happens to me :grinning::grinning::grinning:!

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Congrats Brent. Seems we became Life Gold Pickers around the same time.

GOOD FOR YOU - taking the instrument plunge! I am into Banjo and - most recently - Mando… but played other instruments throughout my life.

Even more special is those who have the courage to learn as Adults!

Way to go!

Don’t be a stranger!

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Congratulations, Brent, and welcome to the best online instructional site that there is!

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Congratulations Brent. Nice to meet you.

.[quote=“BanjoBen, post:1, topic:6820”]
I’m not just learning from Ben, it’s the whole group. Ben and his team helped me get over a big mental hurdle, and I’m grateful

The finest group of people on the web I’ve come across. I think Bluegrass just brings together people who are down to earth.


Nice to meet you Brent, glad you landed here. I’m glad I landed here too. Great instruction, content and resources for sure, but also a fantastic community. Hope to hear from you, chime in now and then.

Your story is familiar and I’m sure many would agree.

 Thanks @_Tye_Stick.  I have Samick HB85A that my older brother picked up at the exchange while stationed in Korea back in the 80,s. I’m looking forward to earning an upgrade one day.
 And thanks to everyone for the warm welcome. Ya really know how to get a guy “sniff”.