View Full Version : Any TradJazz tenor banjo newbies out there?

Apr-09-2016, 1:55pm
let me introduce myself. I'm a long time guitar- and mandoplayer who plays some clawhmmer banjo and some uke.
Two years ago, on a whim, I bought a 17fret open back tenor banjo, intending to play some Irish stuff, but got bitten by the Tradjazz bug and really have a hard time trying to learn some chord-melody style banjo.
For this purpose, I bought the book "River Boat Banjo" by Mel Bay, which has some Dixie and Folktunes arranged in chord-melody style.
For example "Bill Bailey won't you please come home"

It would be nice to meet some other players with similar interests who maybe can recommend teaching resources.

May-10-2016, 5:14pm
Hi! If helpful, the AllFrets organization has a library, and though I don't know specifically what they have, it might be worth checking out: http://www.allfrets.com/member-benefits.html (http://www.banjocafe.net/forum/www.allfrets.com/member-benefits.html)

Also, you may already know your inversions (which, as you know, you'd use when playing chord-melody) but if you have need of an excellent visual reference of tenor chord inversions, I recommend you check this out: (I give it to all of my tenor banjo students): http://www.banjoseen.us/Tenorinversions.html

Lastly, I will soon be releasing a traditional jazz/hot swing play-along: instruction book + 2 CDs or downloads, "You're IN The Band." I'm expecting it to be out in about a month, though I don't have a formal release date yet (I hope to very soon) Here's further info: http://www.cynthiasayer.com/youre_in_the_band_detail.shtml (http://www.cynthiasayer.com/youre_in_the_band_detail.shtml)

Wishing you great times with your music!!
Cynthia Sayer

Martin Ohrt
May-11-2016, 3:07am
Crisscross, that's a nice recording! I had the same "problem" you have now some years ago when I started playing Jazzbanjo, too. However, I don't have any resources for Tenorbanjo, as I've given up on the tenor and started the Plectrumbanjo (CGBD), which I found much more suitable for chord-melody.
I then got in touch with Tom Stuip from Den Haag, who is a great Banjoist and also a very nice guy. He taught me lots of stuff! He's playing mainly Plectrum, but also Tenor - maybe you could get in touch with him? I'm sure that he can help you.
I don't know where you live in Germany, but if the Netherlands are within reach for you, it might be worth to check out the Dutch banjo community. Maybe visit the Holland Jazz Banjo Festival (http://jazzbanjo.nl/), there are always lots of banjoists there, dutch as well as german.
Another one that might be helpful for you is Hans Jörg Elter: http://www.guitarelter.de

Cynthia, I'm glad to meet you here - Tom Stuip showed me some of your recordings. Very nice stuff! :)


May-18-2016, 4:13am
Thanks for the links to the chord inversions, Cynthia, I know most of them as they popped up in various songs I have been working on, but I guess it's time for me to sit down and practice them systematically.
I'm more a tune/project kind of learner then one who approaches stuff systematically...
Looking forward to your playalong book!

Thanks for the recommendations, Martin. I live in the South West of Germany but maybe I'll make it to the Netherlands one day.

Another Mel Bay book, that might be usefull for tenor banjo starters is "Ragtime Banjo" by Roy Smeck. It contains some Scott Joplin transcriptions, but mostly Smeck originals that fall nicely between rag, blues, folk, country and tradjazz, like, for example "Main Street Rag". (Standard notation only, no tabs).

It also contains sheet music for plectrum banjo.

Sep-05-2016, 2:03pm
I wanted to approach the subject a little more systematically than just playing written out arrangements, so I got Mel Bay's Tenor Banjo Melody Chord Playing System http://www.melbay.com/Products/93629/tenor-banjo-melody-chord-playing-system.aspx
Starting with simple melodies in C, it teaches you how to come up with your own chord-melody style arrangements.
I'm still quite at the beginning, in the key of G and I keep forgetting the chord shapes I learned in previous lessons, but it's fun becoming able to do your own chord-melody style arrangements.
Two songs that serve as examples:
"Waves of the Danube" by Ion Ivanovici (which btw, in Germany is also a kind of cake), and another fluvial tune
"Red River Valley" that I, in analogy to "Red River Rock", dubbed "Red River Swing".

I'm well aware that I stll have a long way to go before it sounds halfway decent, but it's a fun jpurney!