Donald ZEPP's

ClearHead™ Clawhammer Banjo

I have been teaching banjo "professionally" since 1964, when I accepted ("jumped at" might be a better term) a teaching position at the Haddonfield Conservatory of Music, in Haddonfield, NJ.

Since that time, I have taught literally thousands of people, and have come up with my own methodology, but had never taken the time to put it in an easily disseminated format, as there seemed to be ample published materials on the market already.

In March, 2007, I was invited to put together a wide spectrum workshop, ranging from the very beginnings to some of the more complicated aspects of clawhammer banjo, so I was finally forced to put my thoughts into some organized form! At that time, I realized that although there were numerous videos on the market, none clearly showed the critical right hand technique, owing to the very nature of the style! I came up with the idea of installing a clear banjo head on an instrument so that we could make videos of the hand's motion from the back of the banjo, clearly showing the hand's motion. We call this technique the "ClearHead™" video series, and many folks have told me how helpful their being able to see the hand from the other side has been.

Thus, I have made several very short videos (to minimize storage space, as well as download time) and have written down some of my thoughts on some basic clawhammer elements, making use of the ClearHead™ shots whenever the right hand is involved.

These materials are offered here in HTML, free for the taking. They do assume that you understand how to read tablature. You will find on the referenced pages my take on several techniques, viz:

  1. The Basic Clawhammer Right Hand Motion
  2. The Brush Stroke
  3. Left Hand Techniques
  4. Double Thumbing
  5. Triplets
  6. The "Cluck"
  7. "Personalizing" your play, or "How to create your own style."
Please note that the videos can be downloaded directly to your machine by right-clicking on the title/link above each one. You are free to use them as you wish. I do ask that I be given credit for them if you choose to use them for any purpose. I am interested in your feedback, so if something is not clear, please let me know. Thanks!