Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Need help developing a plan and site navigation

Hello everyone. I have been lurking around the site for a while but I just recently became a lifetime member. I’ve got a couple of years of some banjo under my belt and have recently took up the mandolin as well. Naturally, I am further along on banjo but I am still a rank beginner with a long way to go. Ben’s site is wonderful with a lot of info but I just can’t seem to put a cohesive plan together for myself, I keep going down rabbit holes of other videos and watching stuff that I am not ready to attempt. I start in a beginner section but, for me anyway, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the order of the videos or lessons. I know there are check lists and such but I still seem to get lost in a quagmire of info with no specific plan of how to move forward. For me I guess I wish that each section had lessons numbered from 1 thru whatever. From purchasing an instrument up through the last advanced lessons all in sequence. Start at Lesson 1 , then 2 and so on. It might just be that I don’t know how to navigate the site correctly. I was wanting to attempt was to practice the banjo and mandolin by starting both at the beginning and moving forward at the same practice level as I go. For instance I want to start with scales. There is a lot of great info but I can’t seem to put it all in a specific and cohesive order. I just end up down a rabbit hole and the next thing I know I’m spending a lot of time working on something that I might not be ready for yet. And now I’m just rambling. Any help or advice would be most appreciated.

I think the beginner learning tracks are arranged in the order in which you should learn them, so you can go through those and when you get to intermediate you can do any of them. But I’d say go through the beginner learning tracks first (sequentially)


I would just reiterate what @Dragonslayer Gunnar just said. Start on the beginner track and work your way through the syllabus .

Once you have a firm grasp of the fundamentals it’s fine to jump around and work on what takes your fancy.

I hear what you are saying , but for instance. In the mandolin beginning check lists, if I go in order, there is a bunch of theory but then a bunch of songs then more theory etc. Should I be attempting songs, no matter how seemingly basic before the lesson of how to properly finger frets? or even songs prior to the basic rhythm lessons? I guess this is what is throwing me . Is that the order I should be working in?

You can skip the theory and just jump straight into the practical lessons. The lessons on theory are the same on all instruments and you can dip into these anytime


Yes, go from the start, there’s songs mixed in where they are to help you practice the techniques you’re learning. For example, you need to know a song before you learn to properly finger frets, or you won’t have anything to practice fingering frets on. Does that make sense?

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Hey @Stixx3969, those are great questions and it’s something I’m working on. The banjo beginning learning track is arranged in precisely the order I want folks to progress. By the time you get through it, you’ll be ready to jump into anything in the intermediate list. Though it will be challenging, you’ll have all the tools needed to press ahead.

The mandolin and guitar beginner checklists aren’t as robust yet, but they’ll be there. I’d be happy to help you personally choose some more lessons if I knew what you’ve worked on and more info about what you need help with. Thanks!

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I had thought about a tandem method for both. Working on the same level of exercises and and same songs for both instruments simultaneously.

Hey @BanjoBen! When do you think the guitar checklist will be done? I am surviving on a Silver membership right now, but just got two months as a gift for my birthday from my parents. I’ll probably start the Gold pick when that guitar checklist is in order.

Hey Keith,

This is speaking to the banjo side of your playing.

What are your goals musically? Will you be quite happy just playing songs that you can learn on this site? Or do you want to be able to figure out things by ear and add your own special touches to your music?

If your answer is to pretty much just play songs, and depending on where your skill level is now, I’d say learn the rolls that Ben teaches. If you have that down, then I’d suggest learning hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, bends, and chokes.

Once these are solid, you’ve got yourself a great foundation, from which you can learn a ton of great songs of your choosing.

If you want to play some by ear and add your own flavors, then Paige Garwood,s theory, would be a good place to go. I also find learning how to count measures very helpful. After your chops are a bit more developed, tackle Alan Munde’s fretboard geography, and Ben’s Waypoints.

Regardless, everything you need is right at this site. Beware of those distracting rabbit trails. :smirk:

Hope this helped.



I would defo go through the beginner section in sequences as every step forward enhances on the previous lesson but there’s no harm in looking and attempting intermediate tracks or even other banjo tabs from the web but remember that if you push above your ability it may have a negative effect and embed bad habits, which I’m sure were all guilty off from time to time

You are defo in the right place and BB is the best there is and this community is full of awesome people :+1:


By the end of the year, Lord willing!


I had played piano as a child, then clarinet in school. I had started banjo with some cd teaching. When I started in with Bens site, I initially started with basic songs. After awhile I went back and listened to Paiges theory lessons. They are an excellent review.
I found following through in order was a very good process. I am now to the intermediate section and sometimes think back at the progress I have made in the past several months and am amazed.
As with anything, foundation is key. Bens Banjo beginner series is a great foundation.