Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Tom and Liz Courtney from Stehekin, WA!

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
Liz: My family was always singing and listening to music. Knowing how to play the piano gave me confidence to pick up my brother’s acoustic guitar one day. I thought to myself, “I could play this.” And I did. The mandolin is a later in life challenge to me, and I enjoy learning.
Tom: I would say it was Earl Scruggs and Lester Flat banjo music.

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
Liz: I started playing the guitar at 11, mandolin at 64! My motivation to play is to accompany my students at school while they sing, to back up my husband Tom’s banjo playing, and to participate in our worship team at church.
Tom: I started playing more seriously in 2007 when I purchased my Deering banjo and attending a workshop. My motivation to play is to improve!

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
Liz: I can’t pin point a favorite! I like them all. Ben’s instruction unfolds details, efficiency and probably the most important is offering the whole spectrum of instruction from the very very beginning of picking up the instrument and just starting, to playing more complicated tunes.
Tom: Ben’s “Build a Break” lessons are my favorite. They start out simple and keep adding notes and phrases and have given me valuable tools to help me play.

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
Liz: I enjoy worship songs, children’s songs, and sometimes a pop song, if it’s more country/folk. I do enjoy the piano.
Tom: I like to play the guitar. I really enjoy all stringed instruments. I like songs that speak to the heart.

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Liz: I like backup rhythm guitar techniques, and picking out solos on the mandolin.
Tom: I would say melodic banjo playing is my favorite.

If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
Liz: Amanda and Kenny Smith. They have amazing talent, and are so humble and kind.

What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
Liz: Snark Tuner, Martin strings
Tom: Sammy Shelor Finger Picks, JD Crow signature light strings

If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
Liz: A Martin Acoustic Guitar (and a grand piano!)
Tom: I have always wanted a pre-war Gibson Banjo

When you’re not pickin’, what else do you spend your time doing?
Liz: Write songs, hike, spend more time with my grandkids, sing
Tom: Play music, of course and help my neighbor

Anything else you’d like to add?
Tom: I would add that I wish I learn Ben’s songs as fast as he posts them on the website.

How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
Liz: Through Tom, my husband.
Tom: I found Ben on Youtube

Thanks for letting us feature y’all!!!


Congrats Liz & Tom!
Enjoyed reading your stories! :slightly_smiling_face:

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gif Tom & Liz on being selected as this weeks Gold Pick Members. I do believe you are the first couple to be bestowed this honour.


Yay! A super-duo! Nice to get to know you all!

Congrats and welcome!! I hope to see y’all around the forum!

Congrats on being selected as GPOTW. Love the photo!
I imagine you are on some wonderful European river cruise, loving every moment of it.

Or you’re at the waterfront Whattaburger! :wink:

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Actually we are on the first dinner cruise near Stehekin Wa. where we live. Thank you all for your comments.
We had a great time at the Montana banjo camp and hope to see you again on our musical journey’s


Congrats on being the GP(s)OTW. What a wonderful gift to be sharing this musical adventure together, and thanks for sharing!