5 Best Banjo Lessons and Courses for 2024

Published: March 29, 2024

Key Takeaways

Which is the best banjo lesson?

Online Banjo Lessons with Tony Trischka is our top pick due to its innovative Video Exchange learning platform. The lessons cover a wide range of topics and are of exceptional course quality. The instructor’s extensive experience adds value, insights, and expert guidance to play the Banjo like a pro.

Banjo is one of the most natural string instruments to play. Its distinctive rhythm produces melodious and unique sounds.

Whether you’re drawn to its folk roots or its vibrant presence in bluegrass and country music, learning to play the banjo opens opportunities in the music industry.

As a Banjoist, you can explore various career paths in the music industry, such as

  • Professional Musician
  • Session Musician
  • Music Teacher
  • Songwriter
  • Band Leader
  • Music Producer
  • Composer
  • Music Therapist

With the numerous learning options available today, it’s not as complex to handle the banjo, even if you are a beginner at banjo playing.

However, finding the right Banjo lessons can be daunting, especially if you need to know what to look for in the course.

So, to help you narrow down your search, we’ve reviewed and compiled a list of the 5 best Banjo lessons online you can enroll as a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level learner.

List of the 5 Best Banjo Classes

Here are our top picks for online Banjo classes:

  1. Online Banjo Lessons with Tony Trischka: The interactive Video Exchange learning platform makes it the best choice, as you’ll receive personalized feedback and instructions directly from the instructor.
  2. Banjo Learning Tracks: With a focus on fundamental skills, progression, and a diverse library of lessons, students can develop their banjo skills at their own pace.
  3. Breakthrough Banjo Course (Fingerstyle): This breakthrough course offers a neuroscience-based approach to fingerstyle banjo instruction. Its step-by-step lessons cover foundational techniques, rhythm, playing by ear, and more, allowing students to progress gradually.
  4. Clawhammer Banjo with Evie Ladin: This course ranks beginner to advanced, with more than 75 in-depth video lessons, tablature for every lesson, and multiple camera angles to see closeups of both hands in action; it is best for self-paced learning.
  5. Beginning Bluegrass Banjo Course: Quickly learn the basics of 3-finger Scruggs style banjo with this affordable lesson, which includes access to audio tracks online for download or streaming featuring Playback+ to help you get hands-on loop points, change keys, and pitch.

Our Course Selection Criteria

These online banjo lessons were reviewed and evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Instructor expertise: We assess the instructors’ qualifications, experience, and proficiency in teaching Banjo. It includes evaluating their background in music, particularly banjo, their reputation within the community, and any awards or recognition they’ve received for their teaching methods.
  • Curriculum: We examine the depth and breadth of the course content offered. The lessons covered various aspects of banjo playing, including techniques (e.g., fingerstyle, clawhammer), music theory, repertoire, and performance skills, are selected. The best courses provide structured lessons that cater to beginners, intermediate, and advanced players, ensuring a well-rounded learning experience.
  • Learning platform usability: The usability of the learning platform is crucial for a practical online learning experience. This criterion evaluates factors such as the platform’s interface, ease of navigation, accessibility across devices, availability of supplementary materials (e.g., tabs, sheet music), and video/audio playback quality.
  • Student feedback and testimonials: Reviews and testimonials from past and current students provide valuable insights into the quality of the banjo lessons. Positive feedback indicates that students have benefited from the course, found it engaging, and achieved their learning goals. The negative feedback or criticism may highlight areas for improvement or potential drawbacks of the course.
  • Flexibility in scheduling: Courses that offer self-paced learning, flexible scheduling of lessons, and the ability to revisit materials at any time enable students to learn at their own pace and convenience. Additionally, options for live or interactive sessions provide opportunities for real-time feedback and interaction with instructors, enhancing the learning experience.

Let’s look at each of the five best online Banjo lessons.

1. Online Banjo Lessons with Tony Trischka

The editor’s perspective on this course

As we reviewed this popular Banjo course, we found that it offers informative and engaging content, covering a wide range of topics and catering to beginners and advanced players alike.

The course offers a well-structured learning experience in Banjo playing, from fundamental techniques like tuning and finger-picking to advanced improvisation skills and exploration of different Banjo styles such as bluegrass, old-time, and folk.

Moreover, the video lessons are enjoyable and offer a truly immersive experience. The interactive Video Exchange Learning platform allows students to interact with Tony and receive personalized feedback from him.

In addition, the course provides reference materials, such as sheet music, tablature, and additional resources, to help students understand the topics covered.

Most importantly, throughout the course, the instructor discussed problems that might occur while learning to play Banjo and techniques that can be implemented.

The curriculum also includes quizzes, which allow us to test our knowledge and track our progress. The depth of content and the personalized feedback system make this course a valuable resource for Banjo enthusiasts at any skill level.

However, more emphasis could be placed on specific techniques within each Banjo style, but overall, we found the course exceptionally well-rounded.

Who should take this course?

This course is ideal for beginners starting their Banjo journey and advanced players looking to sharpen their skills further.

What topics are covered?

Here’s the list of lessons covered in this course:

  • Level 1: Beginner
  • Level 2: Intermediate
  • Level 3: Advanced
  • Old Time Fingerpicking
  • Classic Style Banjo
  • Clawhammer
  • Celtic Tunes
  • Playing Backup
  • 40 Warm-Up Exercises
  • 30 Day Challenge
  • Earl Jam Tunes -NEW

Who is the instructor?

Tony Trischka, the Father of Modern Bluegrass by The New York Times, is a visionary Banjo virtuoso, songwriter, and educator.

Born in Syracuse, NY, in 1949, Trischka’s musical journey was shaped by diverse influences, from Broadway to classical to folk.

His groundbreaking solo debut, Bluegrass Light, released in 1974, showcased his eclectic synthesis of bluegrass with elements of psychedelic pop, jazz, and more.

Throughout his career, Trischka has collaborated with legends like Steve Martin and mentored numerous students, including Béla Fleck.

His contributions to Banjo music go beyond performance; he’s also a prolific author and instructor, utilizing platforms like ArtistWorks for online teaching.

Does the instructor offer other courses?

No.

Does the course offer hands-on projects or assignments to reinforce learning?

The course offers hands-on projects and assignments, including practicing specific exercises, learning new songs, or improvising over backing tracks.

This hands-on approach enhances the learning experience and facilitates skill development with the templates through these assignments.

What are the prerequisites to study?

A basic familiarity with the Banjo instrument and its fundamental concepts, such as tuning and basic fingerpicking techniques, may be helpful.

What does social media sentiment tell us?

The reviews on Reddit are primarily favorable. Users comment that Tony Trischka’s Banjo course offers valuable instruction for learners, and the personalized feedback makes it more interactive.

2. Banjo Learning Tracks: Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced

The editor’s perspective on this course

We reviewed the Banjo learning tracks and discovered they offer knowledge and practical guidance across various skill levels: beginners, intermediate, and advanced.

The topics range from fundamental techniques like Banjo Roll Studies and Basic Banjo Backup to more advanced concepts such as Teardrop Banjo Backup and Building Basic Banjo Solos.

As we progress, the inclusion of Banjo Fretboard Geography with Alan Munde provides comprehensive details, enriching the learning experience. However, the Pro Picker Case Study featuring Tony Wray allows students to get a glimpse into the techniques and approaches of a seasoned professional.

The course videos are clear and concise, with engaging explanations. The instructor’s approachable and informative teaching style makes complex concepts easily understandable for learners at all levels. The learning tracks also include additional resources at different levels.

Throughout the course, interactive elements and practical application of lessons help evaluate the learning and identify areas for improvement. While the course videos are engaging and informative, the lack of one-on-one feedback may leave some students wanting more.

Who should take this course?

This course suits individuals at all skill levels, including beginners, intermediate players, and advanced musicians.

What topics are covered?

Following are the topics covered across beginners, intermediate, and advanced levels in this course:

  • Banjo Roll Studies
  • Basic Banjo Backup
  • Sight Training
  • Banjo Fretboard Geography with Alan Munde
  • Banjo Fret Hand Techniques
  • Banjo Setup with Steve Huber
  • 6th Interval Banjo Backup
  • Building Basic Banjo Solos
  • The Theory of Practice
  • Teardrop Banjo Backup
  • Introduction to Music Theory
  • Pro Picker Case Study: Tony Wray

Who is the instructor?

Ben Clark is a performer, composer, and educator in the Banjo world. With a diverse background in music and education, Ben’s journey from a farm in Texas to stages around the globe has shaped his unique approach to teaching.

In 2011, Ben launched BanjoBenClark.com, a platform dedicated to teaching Banjo enthusiasts of all skill levels. He has been developing a community of students eager to learn from his expertise.

Beyond music, Ben is also a pastor, reflecting his dedication to his students’ learning and spiritual growth.

Does the instructor offer other courses?

The instructor offers Banjo learning tracks for different levels:

  • Beginner Banjo Learning TrackStart from the very beginning and learn the Fundamentals with Banjo Ben
  • Intermediate Banjo ChecklistProgress on the Banjo by stepping up your game with these lessons.
  • Advanced Banjo Checklist.

Does the course offer hands-on projects or assignments to reinforce learning?

The course provides practical guidance across various skill levels, and students must practice along the way; no specific assignment or project needs to be completed.

What are the prerequisites to study?

The course covers a wide range of topics across various skill levels, making it suitable for Banjo enthusiasts of all levels, from beginners to advanced players.

What does social media sentiment tell us?

According to reviews on the Banjo Hangout platform, the course by Ben Clark emphasizes learning through playing songs, including video lessons, tablature, and backing tracks.

Source: Banjo Hangout

Moreover, many viewers on YouTube stated that Ben’s ability to break down complex concepts and make them accessible to learners of all levels is the key.

youtube users stated that ben clark has excellent explanation skills

Source: YouTube

The discussion thread on Reddit includes positive responses regarding Ben’s Banjo lessons, highlighting the value and quality of resources and the tricks for improving the rhythms.

reddit includes positive responses regarding ben’s banjo lessons

Source: Reddit

3. Breakthrough Banjo Course (Fingerstyle)

editor review about breakthrough banjo course (Fingerstyle)

The editor’s perspective on this course

As we reviewed this course, the instructor offers a neuroscience-based approach to Banjo instruction, making it accessible to learners regardless of prior musical experience.

The platform offers an all-access membership that allows students access to all current content. The course offers The Vault, an extensive library of Banjo tabs and tutorials for 2- and 3-finger styles, and materials to explore and practice.

Additionally, the course offers the Bright Banjo Fretboard Mastery System, which provides a structured approach to mastering the entire fretboard, enhancing fret-hand agility and confidence.

The course curriculum covers foundational techniques, common beginner mistakes to avoid, rhythm and timing development, fiddle tunes, music theory essentials, playing by ear, jamming, backup techniques, and much more.

Each topic is presented in a step-by-step sequence, ensuring learners know precisely what to focus on to make progress.

The course videos are expertly produced, with clear explanations and demonstrations that are easy to follow. The reference materials, including tabs, tutorials, and supplementary books, further enrich the learning experience, providing valuable resources for self-study and exploration.

Interactive elements such as problems, quizzes, and live workshops in the Virtual Classroom offer opportunities for engagement and assessment, enhancing the learning journey.

Who should take this course?

This course is suitable for anyone interested in learning fingerstyle Banjo, regardless of their prior musical experience or age. Its neuroscience-based approach ensures that learners understand the concepts and techniques.

What topics are covered?

Here’s a list of topics covered in this course:

  • The Foundational Techniques
  • How To Avoid Common Beginner Mistakes
  • How To Make Consistent & Steady Progress (and Avoid Getting Stuck!)
  • How To Develop Rock Solid Rhythm & Timing
  • How To Play & Sing
  • How To Play Fiddle Tunes
  • The Essential Music Theory For Banjo Player
  • How To Play By Ear
  • How To Play With Drive
  • How To Play In Multiple Styles (2-finger thumb lead, 3-finger Scruggs, 3-finger old-time)
  • How To Jam With Other Musicians
  • How To Play Backup
  • How To Develop Your Playing Style

Who is the instructor?

Source: LinkedIn

Dr. Josh Turknett is a neurologist, 3-time best-selling author, and award-winning musician. He has written about the principles that underlie the Brainjo Method in a recurring column in the Banjo Newsletter entitled Your Brain on Banjo.

He has written multiple books, including the bestselling The Laws of Brainjo: The Art & Science of Molding A Musical Mind, which reviews the science behind the Brainjo Method of instruction.

He plays multiple instruments, including Banjo, fiddle, guitar, and piano. He has won the Banjo and string band contest and appeared on the cover of the Banjo Newsletter.

Does the instructor offer other courses?

No.

Does the course offer hands-on projects or assignments to reinforce learning?

Learners are tasked with applying the techniques learned in the lessons to real-world playing scenarios. It allows them to develop proficiency and fluency in a structured manner.

What are the prerequisites to study?

No, there are no strict prerequisites to study the Breakthrough Banjo course.

What does social media sentiment tell us?

Many YouTube viewers appreciate the clarity of the lessons and find them helpful in their Banjo learning. These lessons are also helpful for beginners who have struggled with Banjo playing for a while but have found improvement and encouragement through them.

youtube viewers appreciate the clarity of the lessons

Source: YouTube

Overall, the Reddit discussion regarding this course reflects that it has a practical course with the availability of free resources and a different learning style than other Banjo instructors.

Source: Reddit

4. Clawhammer Banjo with Evie Ladin

The editor’s perspective on this course

As we researched the Clawhammer Banjo with Evie Ladin, we found it detailed for learners of all levels. It provides an extensive library of more than 75 video lessons on a wide range of topics, from basic beginner techniques to advanced strategies for seasoned players.

Most importantly, the multiple camera angles in the video clearly show both hands in action, helping learners understand finger movements and picking patterns.

Each lesson comes with tablature, ensuring learners can follow along and practice effectively. With over 60 complete songs and tunes, the instructor ensures students have plenty of material to work on and improve their skills.

Moreover, playing along tracks adds another layer of engagement, allowing learners to apply what they’ve learned in a practical musical context.

The reference materials, such as tablature and play-along tracks, facilitate practice outside the course. While the course excels in many aspects, it would have been great if it provided quizzes to measure the knowledge gained.

Who should take this course?

This course is ideal for anyone interested in learning clawhammer Banjo, regardless of prior experience or skill level.

What topics are covered?

Some of the key topics covered in this lesson include:

  • New Music from Old Forms, Learning the Neck, etc.
  • Old Time Harmony Singing
  • Old Time Stringband
  • Square Dance
  • Southern Appalachian Flatfoot Clogging
  • Tap Dance
  • Survey of Step Dance Styles
  • Vernacular Dance
  • Dancing with Others: the Basics of Sharing Weight
  • History of American Dance
  • Body Music – Hands, Feet, Voice, Choreography

Who is the instructor?

Evie Ladin is a multifaceted artist whose passion for music, dance, and cultural traditions shines through her work as a Banjo player, singer, songwriter, percussive dancer, choreographer, and square-dance caller.

Born into a family deeply rooted in the traditional arts, Evie was exposed to music, dance, and community gatherings from a young age. Evie’s artistic works extend beyond traditional Appalachian music and dance.

She has dedicated herself to bridging these traditions with other African-Diaspora cultures, creating a unique fusion that reflects her diverse influences.

Her performances, recordings, and teaching engagements have taken her to prestigious venues and events worldwide, from A Prairie Home Companion to Lincoln Center and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to Celtic Connections.

As a touring artist, Evie Ladin travels internationally with her band. Additionally, Evie has released several albums and instructional DVDs.

Through her course, she brings together years of experience and expertise to help students improve their skills and become professional musicians.

Does the instructor offer other courses?

No.

Does the course offer hands-on projects or assignments to reinforce learning?

The course provides hands-on projects on practically applying notes, rhythms, and techniques learned throughout the lessons.

What are the prerequisites to study?

There are no specific prerequisites, as the course is designed for individuals ranging from rank beginners to advanced players, making it suitable for anyone interested in learning or improving their skills in Banjo playing.

What does social media sentiment tell us?

According to the discussion on Reddit, Banjo learners find Evie’s course more practical. The course offers supportive advice and suggestions for improvement, emphasizing the tricks when learning the Banjo instrument.

Source: Reddit

5. Beginning Bluegrass Banjo Course

The editor’s perspective on this course

Mark Wardle’s Beginning Bluegrass Banjo lessons aim to guide beginners through the initial stages of learning, from basic chords to creating banjo breaks.

One notable aspect of this course is the emphasis on patience and persistence, particularly highlighted in initial lessons where he advises practicing a simple roll slowly for several weeks.

The course covers a wide range of topics essential for beginners, including chord formations, rolls over chords, minor chords, and creating banjo breaks. The instructor provides clear explanations and demonstrations, ensuring learners understand each concept before moving on.

Moreover, the videos are well-produced and easy to follow, and the lessons’ free accessibility on YouTube makes them convenient. The instructor also provides valuable insights and tips throughout the series.

However, the topics are divided into different lessons, making it quite lengthy for intermediate learners looking for advanced-level skills, as the focus is on fundamentals.

Who should take this course?

This course is ideal for newcomers to bluegrass banjo looking for a structured and accessible way to begin their journey into playing the instrument.

What topics are covered?

Here’s the list of Banjo lessons covered in this course:

  • Lesson 01 – For Absolute Beginners
  • Lesson 02 – The Picking Hand
  • Lesson 03 – A Basic Roll
  • Lesson 04 – Speeding Up the forward/ backward Roll
  • Lesson 05 – The Alternating Thumb Roll
  • Lesson 06 – The D7 Chord
  • Lesson 07 – Rolls Over Chords
  • Lesson 08 – The C Chord
  • Lesson 09 – Some Practice Tips
  • Lesson 10 – More Rolls Over Chords
  • Lesson 11 – Introduction To Worried Man Blues
  • Lesson 12 – A Simple Version of Worried Man Blues
  • Lesson 13 – Introduction to 8 More Miles To Louisville
  • Lesson 14 – A Simple Arrangement of 8 More Miles To Louisville
  • Lesson 15 – The Foggy Mt Breakdown Roll
  • Lesson 16 – Some Basic Licks
  • Lesson 17 – Skip To My Lou
  • Lesson 18 – Some more Roll Patterns
  • Lesson 19 – A simple version of Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms
  • Lesson 20 – Basic Backup
  • Lesson 21 – The Classic G Lick
  • Lesson 22 – Some Useful Licks
  • Lesson 23 – A simple version of ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken’
  • Lesson 24 – Variations of the forward backward roll
  • Lesson 25 – Major Chords
  • Lesson 26 – A simple break to Blue Ridge Cabin Home
  • Lesson 27 – Minor Chords
  • Lesson 28 – Four ways to end a break
  • Lesson 29 – How to create a break – ‘Little Maggie’
  • Lesson 30 – Bury Me Beneath The Willow

Who is the instructor?

Mark Wardle is an educator by profession and a Banjo player by passion He offers beginner lessons through his YouTube channel, book, and website.

He emphasizes the importance of persistence in achieving progress. With a deep understanding of the learning process, Mark aims to make his lessons enjoyable and accessible to beginners.

He has helped numerous individuals in his area get started with the banjo and now extends his teachings to a broader audience online.

Does the instructor offer other courses?

No.

Does the course offer hands-on projects or assignments to reinforce learning?

Yes, the course offers hands-on projects. The lessons and exercises are intentionally designed to be simple and easy to accomplish through application and practice.

What are the prerequisites to study?

Whether you have prior musical experience, you can start learning with this course as it provides a solid foundation for beginners.

What does social media sentiment tell us?

The comments on YouTube reflect a positive sentiment towards Mark Wardle’s banjo lessons. Many viewers found the videos helpful and enjoyable, with some mentioning that they were having fun and finding the lessons valuable.

Also, there are requests for more videos, indicating an interest and demand for further instruction.

Source: YouTube

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to learn Banjo online?

Yes, it is possible to learn Banjo online. Numerous resources are available, including video tutorials, online courses, instructional websites, forums, and social media communities dedicated to Banjo playing. However, Banjo lessons by expert musicians are the right way to develop your skills as they deliver structured lesson plans.

How many years does it take to learn Banjo?

While it’s possible to start playing simple tunes on the Banjo within a few months of consistent practice, it takes around 6 months to develop foundational skills and start playing basic tunes. However, becoming a professional player requires dedication, continuous learning, and more practice.

Conclusion

Learning banjo online offers a convenient and effective way to master this versatile instrument.

Each of the best five banjo classes brings unique advantages to learners of all levels. Tony Trischka’s Online Banjo Lessons stand out for their personalized feedback and interactive Video Exchange platform, making it an excellent choice for beginners seeking tailored guidance.

Banjo Learning Tracks provides a comprehensive approach to fundamental skills and progression, which is ideal for self-paced learning. Moreover, the Breakthrough Banjo Course offers a neuroscience-based methodology for fingerstyle banjo.

Evie Ladin’s Clawhammer Banjo course caters to beginners and advanced players with its extensive video lessons and tablature. Lastly, the Beginning Bluegrass Banjo Course offers a quick and affordable way to grasp the basics of Scruggs-style banjo, enhanced by audio tracks for practical learning.

Remember, mastering any instrument can be a challenging process. However, the right instructor and lesson that suits you best can help you achieve your goals and become a professional Banjo player.