Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

I've been working on ear training

Outside of closing my eyes and doing scale practice up and down the fingerboard I’ve been dedicating a lot of time to training my ear.

I sat down with the ol’ traditional song “All around this world” as performed by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. I did not use any tab or reference any videos to help me get through the song. I simply used my ear to work Jerry’s and David’s breaks out. I also tried to stay in tune with Jerry’s singing. I’m not much of a singer but I realize the importance of being able to get your voice (via your ears) in tune with another.

Just a laptop recording of me singing and playing with no edits, cuts, etc. If any of you folks out there need a visual for learning the two breaks then this vid should help.

The winter months are the months I spend working on something in music…this winter’s theme is all about “ear training” and I fully intend to work through at least 5 more songs this winter and reproduce them by ear only.


To note: I mentioned above that I did not edit this because there was obviously something lost /changed in getting the video uploaded with either myself or Youtube. I have not tried to play to this to see, but it feels that’s it’s either been sped up or is flat.

I’ll take a look later when I get a chance to see what happened on my end. I’m in standard tuning but it sure doesn’t sound like it to me. Of course I am still using a 15-yr-old laptop with all the oldest technology so there’s that. Interesting. I hang on to a lot of old stuff like I do my Martin guitars. It may however be time to upgrade. Of course the only videoing I do is about once a year. Guess I’ll just have to do without.

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Sounds good to me!! Nice pickin’ and a sangin’!


Nice job!! I love that song! Makes me want to try an pick along with it :grin:!


Nice job only thing I see about the video quality is it could be a bit better lighting
I think you did a fine job on the pickin and singin part though

Ear training is great way to practice I think.
Makes me think I need to look though the Grateful Dead more

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Oh it’s a fantastic song and is fun to play/replicate. I think it’s a pickers’ song. I plan on woodshedding my own break to it at some point over the next month or so.

I mentioned before that a lot of our bluegrass artists during that 60s/70s time really influenced today’s bluegrass. Rice, Blake, Bella, Sam Bush, Grisman, and Jerry Garcia were all bluegrass pickers. Jerry was an accomplished banjo picker before Grateful Dead came along. He then jumped over to the guitar and from there built an empire around his guitar picking. That’s it.

Whole lotta folks overlook his guitar picking in our world. It’s just as influential to me as Tony Rice or Clarence White. I’ve spent the past year studying a lot about his “style”. There’s a few others like “Peggy O” and some of the songs from “The Pizza Tapes” where Jerry does some pretty fine picking. It’s worth studying it to me.

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Man that is smooooth! Nice picking!

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All over this fret board. Well played, and nice to the ears! Can’t believe 10 months passed by. Welcome back oldhat50! :wink:

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Ear Training


There’s a few Dead songs like Peggy O’ that are traditional/have some nice guitar parts based on the melody but for the most part Jerry did a lot of things on the side with David Grisman that are fairly straight line “Americana” that shows a lot of Jerry’s guitar playing that sound like a lot of stuff we use in bluegrass.

There’s also “The Pizza Tapes” out there where he played with Tony Rice. All pretty good stuff and worth a listen.

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Thank ya sir!

I pick on the guitar some during the summer but mainly like to knock that little white ball around the course. When winter starts rolling in a new plan for guitar practice through the colder months/cabin fever starts revealing itself.

During the summer months I always try to pick at least 1 hour/day 4-5 days/week. Once winter rolls around I may have a few 8-10 hour days/week of nothing but guitar. I’ve never had but one lesson in my life and that was with Ben for an hour or so 10 years ago. I now find myself going back and learning everything about music that I wish I would have started learning 20 years ago. I’ve still got time to figure the guitar out…at least I’ll die trying.


I’ve got the pizza tapes, and it’s one of my favorites. I think theres an XL edition (3cds) of it that I want to get. I also have some Old and in the Way, one or 2 of them anyway. After Christmas prob break em out and work on that some!

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Don’t forget about “Not for Kids Only”. It’s a nice look into old fashioned music.

My oldest (girl) went through a stage of shopping at Goodwill. I went with her once and found a “Not for Kids Only” CD there for $.50. It was worth it. Managed to pick me up 2 pair of jeans and a couple shirts too. Walked out the door as happy as could be for less than $10 and a great pickers CD.

There’s just something about “Three Men Went Hunting” that I enjoy immensely.


I don’t know where I am if you think you’re still trying to figure out. I hardly have time practicing lately but if I can be where you are now I’d be more than happy. :wink: You do well, keep picking!