Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Order of Ben's lesson

I’m new to the mandolin and was wondering how to approach a could of things.

What is the order that I should learn the mandolin in that Ben provides?

What percentage should one spend on songs vs chords vs practicing rhythm?

Thanks for any advice.

Howdy Hoss,

I’m relatively new to mandolin and this site as well. I’m about 2.5 years into playing the instrument and about 1 year into this site, which has been a tremendous help. I didn’t do it this way, but if had to do it all over again it would go something like this:

Hit the Basic Video section and work through that top row, The introduction, the Tab, the Strum packages. I wouldn’t necessarily have to have any of them mastered before I added a few tunes into the mix. Old Joe Clark and Cripple Creek were both good, simple melodies. Good introduction to double stops in that OJC song.

And the go from there. I can’t keep up with the releases, I’ll never do them all . But I listen to the previews, and work on them as time permits if I think it’s something I’ll keep down the line. And every tune always has tidbits of great information embedded in the middle so always worth watching all the way through even if you don’t later need the stroke-by-stroke account.

You’re going to love it here. Ben’s great, and everyone here are too!


Thank you for your help. I look forward to learning more of the mandolin and making more friends. I can already tell you that I this is becoming addicting.

Grand Pa Corn:

I’m relatively new to mandolin and this site as well.
I had to put the 5 string aside for awhile … Trying the Mando!
I got here because I enjoy The Purple Hulls Gospel music, Ben and His Sisters can play !

This is my first time taking Lessons!

Is this a good way to start?

Basic Video section and work through that top row, The introduction, the Tab, the Strum packages.

THEN Where?

Are the songs in order of complexity in the basic Section?

Old Joe Clark and Cripple Creek simple melodies?

Listen to the previews?

Is there a Site outline , I probably went right past it ?

Grand Pa Corn

The top row is good. I don’t think the songs are in order of complexity. I’d just listen to the various songs and see what sounds like something you want to do. Old Joe and Cripple Creek are fine.

How do I say this without being offensive? :smiley: Constructive critique? Cross my fingers and hope to die … don’t be a smart@ss ok ok ok! :laughing:

If you open a lesson book it has a beginning and an ending! Start Here go ect ect ect it has an index. I understand that I have the freedom to play unstructured but IF (emphisis) IF I am a real first time never had any instruction … wish I had done all that when I was 6 … on the piano … metronome … chord theory … BOZO … Should I buy a book or can I get it in some order Here??

If the answer is NO thats cool!

I love all the hard intense Work BB has put into this SITE and there is a lot here for the professional picker … just remember some of us probably most of us humaniods take a second to come up to speed , what seems obvious is not always obvious the first time and BB lessons are very good But If I nod off for just a second in the video I have missed something really important point!

Not everyone will have the Balls to be an apprentice … Just saying !!

I taught Stockdog training and I got really tired of telling people to be precise and build a foundation.

Down sit stay basics leads up to being able to send your dog for the Sheep two counties away on Whistle commands!

The Air Force taught you this way say it (video) Read it (written word) There is one more but thars a wire a missin burp hey Margie bring me cup Whut U say … hmmm BB you are a genius at what you do … I know how hard it is to teach …

“Faithful are the wounds (corrections) of a true Friend” Well I think of you as a friend because of the Video you don’t kin me from Adam!

an after thot … The great thing about the Internet is You only have to do it once … 20 years I had a webpage That I can still google the name of an article and It will come up!


If you’re a total novice looking for a systematic, structured approach to learning a new instrument, then this site might not be the best place to start. It could be, depending on how you learn and everyone is different there, but what you see in this thread is about as close to a guide as you’re going to get. Maybe you do want a book, or check out Mike Marshall’s online offerings. Expensive, but it might be closer to the structured approach you’re looking for.

I came here with about 1 year of mandolin under my belt, and over 30 on guitar, so cherry picking the stuff I like and ignoring the rest, in a random pattern as the spirit moves, works for me.

One book that I found essential, and I hate the title but the content is pure gold, is that Don Julin "Mandolin for Dummies’.

Here’s my take on it… learning to play an instrument is not the same for everyone. If you are 7 years old and want to be a concert guitarist, your path will be totally different than someone who is already an adult and they want to learn to strum some chords for fun. If you took the curriculum for the concert guitarist and gave it to to the person playing for fun, they aren’t going to stick with it for very long. If you took the syllabus for the enthusiast and gave it to the concert wannabe, they aren’t going to make it as an elite player. Mandolin playing can take many directions (fiddle tune leads, open chords, chops, reels, whatever). I spent weeks early on learning to chop and I had fun with it. For many people that would be just absolute torture. If you pick what appeals to you, then I think you will have a better chance of doing it often with enthusiasm, and thus, progressing quickly. So my reasoning for not saying “you should do this followed by this” is simply that I don’t know what your goals are. You ask “What should I do?” I follow that with the question “What do you want to accomplish?”

As a side note… we often learn things even when we don’t realize it. Some people want to focus on scales as fundamentals. Ben’s approach (which I like) is most often to teach scales in the context of learning a song. Want to learn the A scale? Go learn Gold Rush and I suspect you’ll have more fun playing a song while implicitly learning where the fingers go for an A scale. If you really want to learn the theory (or scales and exercises), there are those kinds of videos available as well.

If someone really wants the structure of a consistent “do this, then do that” then they probably would be well served with some individual instruction or failing that, a book such as the ones described in previous posts.

Thank you I just wanted to know where it is if it exists … It don’t I can’t … stop spinning my wheels trying to find the front end …?


If you have done the top row and are looking for a next step, “She’ll be coming around the mountain” is worth a look. It’s a natural progression forward from the open chord strumming video. With some melody picking and using the open chords learned in the other video, it has a little bit of everything.

AAA Jimmy … Thanks . Almost through the Top but BB puts so much good stuff I am about to OD! Cresson Texas it looks like Boswell Ok … My family comes from there and Dennison … Red River Boys . Thanks I have been bustin my buns trying to get ready to go Jamin fingers are all racked My advice Son is to stay young. Gettin Ole is not for Sissies.!

Hey, that’s our stoplight! :smiley:

I finally figured out some of this site … ! But I ain’t gonna tell you … work for it like I did … JOKE SIGN … which is a very effective way to teach … when you realize it … You have to pay attention to the videos … You gonna get it once quietly … My wife goes to quilting class and as wifes will always help you … She said My class is like that we just do the work and it will come out as you do it … There see I was Positive just had to read the whole thing . burp tongue in cheek. Gray hair will be your someday and then you will be empathetic Say good bye Bill


Happy Trails to you until we meet in Him!

bump bump paaa dah or is it duh? I used to know everything but then I forgot it ?? Lessons … are really good here just sayin … Marranatha

Happy Trails to you until we meet in Him!

— Begin quote from ____

If you pick what appeals to you, then I think you will have a better chance of doing it often with enthusiasm

— End quote

What Mike said above covers it in a nutshell. Also, get the best instrument you can comfortably afford. I’d lay off the hootch or whatever it is you’re smoking as well, but that’s just my opinion.

Maybe Briscoe Darling can shed some wisdom here:

“Just jump in where you can and hang on!”

Brisque is cool thx for the link … Maybe I’ll go to the can with Ernest TEE!

“Youth is wasted on the Young”

I gave up all that smokin and drinkin stuff about 40 years ago … but then old age struck and my fingers rolled up in a Ball!!

Grandpa Corn

“Cornier than Corn Flakes”

The Pictures are Christian pictures from Pligrims Progress it was required reading in grade school at one time in California and Texas!

In most grade schools these days They show you how to put a Pro-fer-lac-tic on a Banna!

ANYWAY I guess my humor went over your head?

Sad real Sad but DUH TA DE DUH … soon real soon!


I’m sorry if-n Ah offeneded any one I was justa -Ah- Joshin “Briscoe” Whip outa jug Briscoe it loks like its just me-n you … a one ana two ana … hhmm is thar an echo in here … ??

I’m victim of circumstance… We’ll I guess insulting me is OK … But if you tease pink guitar he goes away … Hellllo … Good ole boys … Helllllo ??? Hmmmm no sense of humor I guess …