Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

List your Top 3 Lessons!

I am curious what many of you would list as your top lessons… if you don’t have time for 3… one will dodo nicely! :grinning:

Maybe it was a song that just pulled things together for you or something that was a revelation- musically.

I hope that Ben might also appreciate this feedback.

I liked:

1). “Oh Susanna” - my wife’s favorite Banjo Song and a fine arrangement.
2) Intro to Fretboard Geography with Alan Munde - Enlightening!
3) Tie with Hop, Skip and Jump for pull-off and Waypoints to learn how to play up the neck - because having good structured tunes that entrain while teaching a skill accomplishes so much - working on a repeated skilll in song form PRICELESS


Like Ben always say’s they are ALL my favourites. Besides it’s more fun practicing them than listing them


Thanks Archie - and you know I feel similarly about the site and being a “Lifer”.

Still, even just for “that song“ that is a fav… or an instructional… maybe some shine a bit brighter - for some.

I appreciate YOUR reply, though. :guitar:

I’m excited to hear folks’ feedback on this!

1 Like

Fretboard Geography is definitely among my favorites. This latest waypoints lesson is getting up there quickly. I’ve only made it through the first 2 videos so far, but i dig where it’s going.

As far as a song lesson, Oh Come, All Ye Faithful has to be my #1. It’s just flat out fun to play. There’s a run near the end of the song that’s a real bear to get down. Every time I make it through it without screwing it up, I get a little sense of pride. I also like the F chord Ben throws in there. Completely unexpected, but sounds sooooo good.


Tons of great lessons. Love this last one on the waypoints. I’m really enjoying playing along with the various guitar jam tracks Ben makes available. Also really learned a lot from the fretboard geography series. I really like combining the theory with the sounds. Any chance on a lesson (or series) on fretboard geography for blues?
Thanks. Also along the line of theory I really liked what you said, Mark, about going From E to A to D and back to G with E being the fifth of the fifth of the fifth and all those fifths begging to be resolved and your ear becoming satisfied when each new resolution occurs.


Waypoints 1, 2, and 3. I’ve only fiddled around with clawhammer style up to the Waypoints lesson which I am really enjoying. Working on muscle memory for the rolls – takes f o r e v e r. The board geography is pretty easy.


From a complete beginners point of view (3rd week): Several lessons have helped to reveal some bad habits that are already starting to develop. Cheating a bit here by having more then 3 lessons…

(1) Essential Banjo Basics (bad habits beware)
Banjo Boot Camp
Banjo Hand Positions
Pickin’ Your Banjo Picks, Part 2

(2) Theory (Good to know there are standard scale patterns along the neck. Who would’ve thunk?)
Music Theory Part 11- Major Scale Studies
Essential Banjo Theory
Fret board Geography Intro

(3) Basic Exercises
Basic Major Banjo Chords (totally foreign ideas to me, left hand is wondering why I am torchering it)
Banjo Forward Roll Study (Nice to learn a song asap vs just doing exercises)


I have used the Banjo Single Measure Backup a ton while attempting to play banjo in a group setting. I play sometimes with my in laws and will use the things learned in this lesson almost exclusively when I’m not familiar with the song they are playing. So far I think I have them fooled into thinking I’m a much better player than I actually am :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Aside from Banjo study… the revelation of the Circle of Fifths - some 35 years ago in High School Music Theory was a musical breakthrough!

There you have it Ben… as the small sample size suggests… Waypoints seems a big hit!

I am sure there are many gems waiting along the path.

My issue is taking the time to go through all the material in order. On the MUSIC Theory side… I feel pretty comfortable - but on the Banjo Application side, I cannot take any lesson for granted and WILL give them all some study… one of these days.

1 Like

Two leap to my mind immediately from the mandolin side.

Nine Pound Hammer was the first of the build-a-break lessons that I ever viewed. Seems obvious now, to strip a melody down to the bare essentials before building it back up, but it was quite the revelation for me. It was a black art beyond my abilities, but now it all makes sense and I apply the lessons to lots of other tunes.

The second was that beautiful guitar/mando duet ‘Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing’. Learned a bunch about mando backup when the guitar took over. And since I was a guitar player long before I picked up the mandolin, I went ahead and learned both parts. Still the only guitar lesson I’ve done here. I keep meaning to do others but I always seem to find yet another on the mandolin I want to learn first.


Wow, that’s great feedback @Jim_G1!

1 Like

Since we’re already off banjo topic, I’ll throw in There is a Fountain fingerstyle guitar. I absolutely love that hymn anyway and Ben’s version is beautiful. It took me a while to master it but I had to learn that one.


I want to bring this topic back to banjo and still owes the question about listing your top lessons. Maybe it was a favorite song, or Technical video, or a lesson plan of several videos.

Whatever the lesson may have been, please respond so Ben gets more feedback on those really influential lessons

The Waypoints on banjo was fun and eye opening to many of the songs that “felt” too difficult to play. Hop Skip and a Jump is a very catchy way to practice. I have started Foggy Mountain Breakdown (first break) and attribute these lessons to demystifying what I was hearing and watching.
Angeline the Baker I enjoy for the drop C. I may not be good enough to play it proficiently but hearing the banjo in different tuning (expanding the range) after practicing everything in G is refreshing. Even different than capo tuning. It makes me think there is a lot of opportunity for originality if you were so inclined.

1 Like

My favorates change about every 4 to 6 weeks
‘Waypoints’ is my goto song right now for warming up and that foggy mountain choke lick on the way down the neck is helping my pinky finger strength.
‘Blackberry Blossom’ I love @banjoben verison of this song. I had learned another arrangement of this song in year 1 BBC. (Before Ben Clark). I use that simple arrangment to start the first verse and then ben’s arragment for the second verse. It gave the song more of a build up in complexity.
My third choice has to be all of the songs here cause every lesson will improve one or more aspect of your playing in one way or another.


My favorite I am currently working on is Bury Me Beneath the Willow.

This is great! I hope all of you reunited to show what you are working on as you progress through your musical journey!

As I have previously stated, I have not uncased my mandolin for several years, I have spent significant time reacquainting myself with the basics found in the Music Theory Series parts 1 thru 11 and the Essential Chord Theory lessons.