Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Steve Kaufman Workshop this past weekend

A just wanted to pass the word along. I had the good fortune of attending a workshop that presented Steve Kaufman. I had to pass on a Son’s of the Pioneers Show to attend.

Let me say that for me it was very worthwhile. I had heard from several sources that Steve is a good teacher and generally a nice guy. My opinion, that was indeed the case. Here in the land of rattlesnakes coyotes and cactus flat picking celebrity is not a common thing. While knowing he is a good teacher, my question was can I be a good learner for much of anything.
It took pace in Tempe AZ at Acoustic Vibes.

(Skip this paragraph if you don’t care about the gritty)
He downplays scales and encourages the “seek and ye shall find” method learning notes that work together. I am working with both. He demonstrated simple a chord progression, GGGD DDDG and illustrated bass walks between the two and why and how to use them. So far not really new to me but I thought it was sensibly planned and well coordinated. Call this much reinforcement. Then he moved up the neck to a G (F shaped) using the A to B strings for G and D7 with an easy two finger switch. Now we are getting to technique that I might have worked out and never did. The we moved to G6 and D7 for something called Sock Rhythm. All this is of course moveable and I have heard it as Texas Swing . This leads to a tune called Sugar Foot Rag. Now this is new stuff and presented in a way that is easily attainable (at least for me but I think for most serious pickers who don’t already know it. Then we got into elementary cross picking with a 12312312 aka DGBDBGDG. Then is was back to using that simple progression for Tom Dooley and with cross picking. Slow song so that should work and it does part way until melody notes get into the pattern notes. At this point while I accept the theory, I have to practice it to nail it and I start to glaze over. He does point out along the way that these are paths and that you take them home and practice walking them. We also covered picking technique, strumming technique, fret fingering and how to alter it to achieve things like speed and volume. How he avoids carpel tunnel and how he holds a guitar. I even questioned why would my right forearm hurts after trying to strum Fireball Mail at “Tempo” and got an opinion of an answer that sounded like a good answer to me that I will try.

In summary, Steve Kaufman is more effective in person than on a video. I feel I did learn. At $120 for 2 hours and 6 hours it seems like a fair deal to me. Not to mention I got to try some really nice wood that I don’t see myself ever affording. I would have liked it better in Tucson than Phoenix ( I hate traffic), but a Tucson market would not have filled the class. I met another picker who passed on her opinion of online classes and also got more detail on how they work. All of what was covered has been covered by Banjo Ben from a slightly different perspective so I can’t say it is new stuff that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, but it is hard to beat in person interaction. I attend short sponsored workshops here in Tucson that feature Greg Morton and Peter McLaughlin and other bluegrass players, but find that the information flow is harder to grasp.

As always, in my opinion.

Glad you go to go and am sure it was worth every dime.