There is a mistaken impression that learning to play the banjo is a difficult endeavor. But truth be told, learning how to play this instrument is akin to playing almost any other stringed musical instrument, such as the guitar. Some would say it’s even easier! But just like mastering other instruments, mastering the banjo is also all about your commitment and dedication. If you are committed to perfecting your skill at the banjo, you can go far. But it all starts with learning some tunes, so what songs should you learn as a beginner banjo player? Here’s your ultimate list.
What you need to remember
The best aspect about banjo playing is that it will always have open tuning. This means you only have to deal with a few fingering positions, and the easy banjo songs only need a two-finger style approach when it comes to the left hand. Banjos are ideal if you want to play country, bluegrass, and folk songs, but they can also enhance the melody of pop and rock music. If you want something easy, to begin with, below are some classic favorites:
Song #1: Cripple Creek
Cripple Creek is the most important banjo song you can ever learn to play, and it’s a folk tune that evolved from the Appalachian area, but others say it evolved during the gold rush era in Colorado, where there’s a town with the same name. Either way, it’s a quintessential bluegrass tune. Listening to Cripple Creek for the first time may seem intimidating because it has a pretty fast tempo. But it only has three simple (and short) musical sections. You need to learn it one segment at a time, and once you learn these segments, you can easily combine them to make up the entire song.
It’s a good choice for practicing some essential banjo basics, too, such as alternating thumb rolls and switching and sliding techniques. It also has high melodies and low melodies to help you exercise your fingers and excite your ears!
Song #2: Duelling Banjos
This classic song became famous when it was featured in the film ‘Deliverance,’ and is the most popular song ever recorded on the banjo. It starts slow and speeds up in the most spectacular way, but it is much easier to play than it looks! The arrangement of the song is highly fluid. You can join together all the basic building blocks, such as the ‘Walk up and down’ and the ‘Yankee Doodle’ section, in any order you like. This means you can simplify the song to make it easy for a beginner to play.
Song #3: House of the Rising Sun
The Animals first released this song in 1964, but it was sung by blue-collar workers as far back as the 1800s. Regardless of its history, it’s a song that may seem complicated because of the number of chords, but it’s easy to learn. It has only one chord sequence that repeats over and over. You have to practice the chord shapes first then pick the strings so you can become more familiar with the rhythm.