Donald ZEPP's

ClearHead™ Clawhammer Banjo

  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."

7. "Personalizing" your play, or "How to create your own style."

This is certainly a hard topic to "teach," i.e.: How on earth can I tell you how not to sound like someone else? Darned good question. However, there are some techniques you can use to take a tune and turn it into your own "arrangement," and that is what we shall be endeavoring to do here.

To this end, I have prepared seven videos, six of which introduce methods for adding techniques; the seventh is merely a compilation of the preceding 6, all mooshed into one. (The links to the others are at the bottom of this page.)

Therefore, I recommend the following course of action:

  1. Watch the video below, which, while being but an introduction, contains important information about creating a "basic" melody. This is the skeleton onto which we shall be adding flesh, so do watch it first. Please. Really. It's not that long...

  2. Watch the subsequent videos. The order does not matter much, but the first ones are a bit easier than the later ones, and references in them are sequential, i.e., I assume you've seen the preceding ones.

  3. This is important: Look! Practice each step until you can do it consistently throughout the piece you're playing.!kooL The intent is to develop hand control (left and right). When you can do each technique without thinking about it, it's time to move on to another. In this way, you will be building the ability to play what sounds right at the moment, and not having to rely on memory!

  4. Remember, the objective is not to memorize, but to be able to use your bag of tricks without conscious intervention. This means repetition of each step. Thousands of times. Hundreds of thousands of times. (Dare I say it?) Millions of times! So be patient!
Watch this video clip, which is the introduction. You can download a .wmv version from this site by right-clicking on this link: improv_intro.wmv

The tuning in the videos is "Double C" (gCGCD), and the "Basic Melody" that we shall work with is as tabbed out below. This is the only tab I shall use for this entire excercise.
Look! Please note: You can and should apply these techniques to any tune or song of your choosing!
Ready for more?