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 Learning to Play the Melody on Banjo using Christmas Songs

Learning to Play the Melody on Banjo using Christmas Songs

Hello, Ross!

It's now been six months since I received my new Gold Tone OB 150 ordered through you, and I love the banjo, but even more so your platinum instruction membership.  Working on chords is an ongoing struggle for me but it really pays dividends, just like you say.
Being a slow learner, I thought I'd better get started on some Christmas songs, so yesterday I was playing your Joy of Christmas examples, and my grandson and I agree that they all are great, but my wife and granddaughter only liked two- coincidentally both Silent Night and Away in a Manger, which are directly melody songs.  My grandson and I like them all.  He is learning piano on a keyboard and for 10 years old doing very well- and we have a "band".  It is fun to try to catch the chord progressions of the songs he plays and do simple rolls in the background, although I'm not sure God ever intended the piano and banjo to go well together!
But as a result of this, I started thinking that people who do not enjoy bluegrass may just not be musically inclined to hear the melody within the embellishment notes, or find the music to "busy".  Chord melody and melodic might be a better fit for the musical part of their hearing.  If so, I can't help but feel sorry for these poor unfortunates!  Seriously, I can understand- riverboat tenor banjo is not really my cup of tea! At least for now!
Can't thank you enough for your great lessons and I brag on you frequently to my guitar friends!
Paul M

Hi Paul,
Thanks for your email and excellent feedback too. Basically on the banjo you have to keep a constant steady rhythm in your picking as your first priority. It's not even possible to effectively play a melody on a banjo without it, because of the lack of sustainability of the notes played. So once the rhythm of the picking is established, and no beats in the measures are missed... THEN, you can really focus on emphasizing the melody notes that are dropped into the steady rhythm.
Christmas songs are a great way to learn and understand that technique because we know the melodies so well to begin with.
Thanks again, Ross Nickerson

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