Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Bruce Herdman from Ontario, Canada!

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
It was most likely 1950s group The Kingston Trio that piqued my interest in the banjo. After becoming proficient with the banjo I decided to learn the guitar and then the mandolin

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
Until I was 45 all I could play was the radio. My wife bought me a banjo and said “Here. You said you wanted to play the banjo. Now it’s up to you.” I am now 82 and still not very good at any of the instruments but I enjoy entertaining myself.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
My favorite lessons are the build- a-break lessons since they have done a good job of teaching me to play the banjo rather than just learning to play a song on the banjo.

What’s your goal when playing?
I try to be accurate first and then increase speed. I have to confess that during most of my “practice” sessions I get bored with the repetitive nature of the drill and resort to playing a tune. But hey! I’m in my 80s and I want hear music.

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I play the guitar, mandolin and ukelele but I am most proficient with the banjo

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
A little more than two years

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
No favorite technique. I struggle with Scruggs style picking which is all I know

If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
I have no idea. I love Bela Fleck’s music

What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
The banjo mute is one of my wife’s favorite accessories and I use a snark tuner

If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
a grand piano

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
I would play my instruments more often

Anything else you’d like to add?
I was 45 when I started to learn the banjo. I had a brother (now deceased) who was a pretty good guitar player. When I told him I wasn’t sure I could learn to play the banjo his words were: The best time to learn to play any instrument is when you’re twelve or so. The second best time is RIGHT NOW!"


Congrats Bruce on being selected as this weeks Gold Pick Member A fine Scottish first name you have.


Congrats on GPotW!

I enjoyed reading your profile very much…

While Ontario is big… We are international neighbors as I live in Michigan… about an hour’s drive from Sarnia or Windsor… depending which bridge I wish to take.


Welcome and congratulations!


Congrats Bruce!!! love the advice your brother gave you on learning the banjo!! Welcome!

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Congrats on being the Gold Picker of the Week. We have a similar start up story, I kept saying I would like to play mandolin but was not sure if I could. So, for my 48th birthday my wife got me a mandolin and said see if you like it. (I definitely liked it)

I enjoyed reading your interview.

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Hi Bruce, Congratulations! I’ll soon be 78, and my story is similar to yours. Listening to the Kingston Trio, the Limeliters, and other folk groups is what motivated me to want to learn an instrument. When the folk music scene faded, I became interested in bluegrass, and continuing to learn to play the guitar is my chief pleasure in retirement. Banjo Ben is a great influence, isn’t he? Being drawn into community with other players is one of the great benefits of this musical scene, and I am grateful to Ben for facilitating this opportunity to meet folks like you.


@bherdman3495 , congrats on being selected for the gold pick member of the week, and for sharing a little about yourself. I agree with your brother’s advice…wish I had pursued banjo when I first had the desire…but here we are! Wishing you great success in enjoying and growing in your banjo adventures!


Thanks for posting and sharing @ksbellingham!

Hoping you post again soon!

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