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Banjo Lesson: Foggy Mountain Breakdown Banjo Roll

It all starts with a hammer on on the second string and alternating thumb and index finger.  That’s the beginning of this banjo lesson in the style of the most famous five string banjo tune, "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" by Earl Scruggs.

In this banjo lesson excerpt from The ArtistWorks Banjo School with Tony Trischka, Tony breaks down an essential banjo roll in the style used in the beginning of the classic song.
Beginners at banjo should note that a roll is the term for the cascading and repeating finger picking patterns used in banjo tunes.  

Banjo lessons in the style of Foggy Mountain BreakdownTony expands the roll to include the first string and the middle finger.  That’s always the way when you learn banjo rolls. They start easy, but then they get more complicated.  But don’t worry, Tony takes it step by step with slow mo in the full banjo lesson.  Plus he gives a great advice:  Repetitions and metronomes are the key to breaking through the barriers of speed and coordination.

In this banjo lesson from inside his school, Tony advises to use open strings to learn the right hand portion of the roll and then once you’ve got the hang of it, introduce the left hand fretting.

“The trick to the Foggy Mountain Breakdown roll is bringing the thumb across to the second string,” say Tony, and he demonstrates this in the banjo lesson.

Tony’s School features this banjo lesson and a lifetime of other online banjo lessons.  They are designed for beginner banjo players all the way up to seasoned vets.  He is Tony Trischka, after all.  If he can teach Béla Fleck, he's probably got a thing or two to teach anyone.  His other banjo lessons include these and many more:

  • Holding The Banjo
  • Intro to Chords G C D7
  • This Little Light of Mine
  • Reading Tablature
  • Ode to Joy Part 1
  • Ode to Joy Part 2
  • Alternating Thumb Roll Exercises
  • Train 45
  • Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms Part 1
  • Backward Alternating Thumb Rolls Part 1
  • Shelton Roll 1: Boil Them Cabbage Down
  • Shelton Roll 2: Salty Dog
  • Shelton Roll 3: Ending Lick
  • Advanced Scale Techniques 1
  • Improvisation Technique: Ron Cody Part 1
And unlike the banjo lesson above, these banjo lessons talk back to you. Just submit videos of your playing and Tony Trischka himself checks them out and responds with his own videos giving you feedback on YOUR banjo playing. Click below to learn more about how it works! 
Learn more about banjo lessons at ArtistWorks