Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Discuss the Banjo lesson: Cherokee Shuffle- Intermediate

I taught a riDICulously hard version of this 7 years ago, and it’s time to release a version that’s fun and attainable, and sounds great! Also, this is the first lesson taught on my own banjo model, the Gold Tone Twanger!


Yesss!! Finally a version I can actually play. Thanks @BanjoBen!


Yep, that advanced version was so insane, I’ve been putting it off. Now I can get Cherokee Shuffle into my repertoire. This version is so playable, I picked it up in a day and it’s fun. That’s the beauty of Ben’s arrangements; same thing with Bill Cheatham, try that one too. Guys, try this one out, you won’t regret it.


Thanks for the new Cherokee Shuffle version!!! I can play it! I feel like a banjo player: tons of fun! Seems like all of a sudden, I can play the pieces. Must work on memorizing now. ANY TRICKS TO MEMORIZATION?? It’s a challenge so far…


Hi @shanti.garlock

A couple of tips to help you memorise tunes is first off knowing the fundamentals inside out, The roll patterns, licks and melodic runs. They provide you with the structure to build signature phrases that are the building blocks, the framework of every tune.

By working your way through @BanjoBen 's learning pathway and carefully studying what Ben is teaching, these fundamentals will soon become very familiar to you. Eventually with practice they become second nature, like riding a bike, breaking an egg, making a cup of coffee. These are every days tasks we do without having to think about them, we just know how.

Listen I mean really LISTEN to the tune over and over again. Hang on to every note and eventually you will be predicting which note or musical phrase comes next.

Finding the time to sit down and listen to tunes can be a challenge in our busy lives but @Mark_Rocka has found a solution and I think its a great tip for everyone learning a musical instrument, Mark downloads Ben’s MP3 files and listens to them as he drives around in his car. Now why didn’t I think about this ten years ago when I started out.

Another great tip is to learn the Kick off’s and Ending phrases. Ben has several lessons on these topics. Learning the Kick Offs leads the way into a tune, Once upon a time, They all lived happily ever after etc…

Most of Earl Scruggs tunes has at least one or two key signature licks, identifiers within the tune that helps lead the listeners ears and tells the story. Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Shuckin the Corn, Sally Goodin

Adding these to your library of fundamental licks will enhance your ability to memorise tunes even more. As your LISTENING try to identify and predict when and where one of these Key Signature Phrases fits into a tune. I guarantee it will help you remember when you come to sit down to play.

Finally learn to relax, accept the fact that there will be times you will mess up. Don’t allow yourself to become frustrated. If you find you are getting stuck on a lick or musical phrase, slow it right down, break it down into smaller more manageable pieces and work on it till it becomes second nature.

Have Fun Happy Picking


Love this one. Nice and playable :). I actually took the time to memorize it too. Love the lick in measures 31 - 34.


I like that lick too. Sounds great and you don’t have to be a banjo master to play it.


Hi @BanjoBen. In measure 9 with the pull off I found myself wanting to pick it in a slightly different way. Instead of doing a pull off for the third fret to second fret transition, It feels more natural for me to want to do a hammer on from the second to third, then pluck with first finger again on the second fret then pull off from the second fret to open. Is there anything wrong with doing it the way I described? And if not, is there something to be gained from forcing myself to play it the way you have it written to better develop technique? Thank you!

1 Like

Hi Benjamin,
@BanjoBen is on a trip to Israel at this time so it may be a while till he responds to your query in person,

I have looked at the TAB and watched the video segment and I see why you might want to do a hammer-on. But it is clearly marked as a pull-off. A touch and go action. And that’s what Ben appears to do on camera. I haven’t worked through this lesson yet so I could be wrong. Perhaps @Mark_Rocka or someone else might care to offer an opinion.

1 Like

Hey Benjamin! I wouldn’t say there’s anything “wrong” with playing it that way. There are no hard rules in music. If it sounds better to you, go for it!

I’d like to encourage you to at least learn it the way it’s written and the way Ben plays it, though. It’s not an easy lick to play cleanly, and it’s used in many other songs. Playing the same string 2 notes in a row is starting to touch on advanced banjo playing, so I think it could help your technique.

And hey, then you’ll have 2 options to play that part of the song. :slight_smile:


Thank you, guys! They have answered like I would.


@Mark_Rocka and @Archie, thank you gentlemen. I’ve been trying it as written and the more repetition the easier it gets.


Hi Benjamin Once you get beyond the mechanics of where and how to place your fingers and having to think it thru everything will start to fall into place.

Thank you so much for your suggestions! The concept of getting good at particular phrases so it’s like cracking an egg (we don’t have to “think” about it, it’s so integrated) makes sense! I also discovered Ben about 10years ago on YouTube. I am grateful forever for his hard work to create SUCH a wonderful teaching site!

As time goes on, I want to get better and better… this last trip to the mountains we had a hoot-and-anny and played some bluegrass music…Rob looked over with that “wanna take a few bars” and I did! At a pace way faster than I would set in the key of D! Kinda scared myself–it was from all this good learnin’ from our teacher! haha!!

Thanks for your coaching-- I shall take your suggestions!

1 Like