Lessons

December 8, 2022 -It is banjo month here at Bluegrass Unlimited (December 2022) because Earl Scruggs is on our cover. This week Dan Miller plays an arrangement of “Little Darlin’ Pal of Mine” and then demonstrates how to create some variations.


December 1, 2022 -Last week Dan Miller presented a basic arrangement for the tune “Fireball Mail” on the 5-string banjo. This week he demonstrates how that arrangement might be modified in order to add some variation in the context of using the major blues scale.


November 25, 2022 -In this short video Dan Miller demonstrates an arrangement of “Fireball Mail” on the 5-string banjo. In a follow-up video he will demonstrate how to create variations of this arrangement. Tablature for this arrangement will be uploaded to the Bluegrass Unlimited website after the 30th of November 2022.


November 18, 2022 -In this video lesson, Dan Miller continues the topic from the last banjo improvisation lesson by demonstrating how you can practice using various right hand roll patterns over chord changes to begin learning how to improvise on the banjo. In this video he uses the tune “Boil That Cabbage” down as an example.


November 11, 2022 -In this video lesson Dan Miller discusses how to start thinking about improvisation on the 5-string banjo. He first talks about playing a solo just using the notes of the chords combined with banjo rolls, then he discusses adding notes from the major pentatonic scale and the major blues scale.


November 3, 2022 -After performing with David Grisman and recording several “space grass” albums, Tony Rice came back to bluegrass with a new and broad vocabulary of chords. Ever since then bluegrass guitar players have been curious about those chords that Tony masterfully used. In this lesson, Jason Keiser (who is featured in the November 2022 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine and studied with Wyatt Rice while he was a student at ETSU) teaches some of those chord forms using his original tune “Howie’s Breakdown” as an example. A PDF with the chord charts can be found on the Bluegrass Unlimited lessons page.


October 27, 2022 -In this video Tim May teaches a continuation of Part 1 whereby he talks about more mandolin basics that will help you improve your speed, accuracy, and tone on the mandolin.


October 20, 2022 -In this video Tim May teaches some mandolin basics that will help you improve your speed, accuracy, and tone on the mandolin.


October 13, 2022 -This lesson consists of 8 Parts. Once a video comes to an end, then next video will begin to play. To view the full list of videos, click here. The standard notation for this arrangement can be found at the Bluegrass Unlimited website Lessons page.


October 6, 2022 -In an earlier video Dan Miller showed you some folded scale patterns on the mandolin. In this video he demonstrates how you can fit some of those patterns, or partial patterns around a melody using the song “I Saw The Light” as a demonstration. He first plays the melody, then the melody with added tremolo, double stops, and chord strums, then he plays the arrangements that uses scale patterns and fragments. The tablature for this arrangement can be found at the Bluegrass Unlimited website Lessons page.


September 28, 2022 -The September 2022 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine featured an article about mandolin player Andrew Collins and his “Isolationist’s Guide” instructional series. For this week’s lesson, Andrew has generously offered an excerpt from one of those lessons. This one is on mandolin backup.


September 23, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller wraps up the eight part series on learning how to improvise on songs that you’ve never heard before and discusses integrating this approach to improvisation with a couple of other approaches as outlined in earlier videos.


September 15, 2022 -In this video Tim May demonstrates how to utilize the various scales, in an improvisational context, that have been presented in the past few videos in this series—the major scale, the major pentatonic scale, the major blues scale, the minor pentatonic scale, and the minor blues scale.


September 9, 2022 -In this video Tim May and Dan Miller talk about the use of the chromatic, minor pentatonic, and blues scales while improvising on songs that you have never heard before.


September 2, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller continues with his series on learning how to improvise on songs that you’ve never heard before. In this video he explains the notes that make up the major blues scale and demonstrates how to use this scale when improvising.


August 25, 2022 -In this video Tim May and Dan Miller explain the next part of learning how to improvise by continuing with the concept of chord tone targeting. In this segment they talk about targeting the 3rd and 5th scale degrees that make up the chord tones in a I, IV, V progression in the key of G.


August 18, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller continues his series on improvisation. Here Dan and Tim May introduce the concept of chord tone targeting and demonstrate how to practice targeting the root note of the chord as a first step to learning chord tone targeting in improvisation.


August 12, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller builds on last week’s Improvisation Part 1 video. This week he moves from just using notes out of the chord for improvisation and adds the notes of the major pentatonic scale to the mix.


August 4, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller begins a series on learning how to improvise. This first installment provides the initial step in a method that Dan developed with multi-instrumentalist Tim May. Even if you are a beginner, no matter what instrument you play, you can learn, practice, and use this basic first step towards learning how to improvise. If you are a more advanced player, you can also use this approach and execute the exercise at your level.


July 28, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller talks about several aspects of timing and keeping time on the bass and then shows some options that can be used when playing a simple root-fifth pattern on the bass.


July 21, 2022 -In this video, Dan Miller continues demonstrating folded scale patterns on the mandolin using the songs “Sailor’s Hornpipe,” “Goodbye, Liza Jane,” “Bill Cheathum,” and “Arkansas Traveler” as examples. Tablature is included at the Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine website Lessons page.


July 14, 2022 -Dan Miller demonstrates a few folded scale patterns on the mandolin and how they appear in song melodies and how they can be used to embellish or enhance song melodies.


July 7, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller discusses ideas regarding the use of fill licks on the Dobro and demonstrates using the song “Nine Pound Hammer” as an example.


July 1, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller shows you how to find the simple melody to “Nine Pound Hammer” and then shows you how to build a solo from that melody.


June 22, 2022 -This video (and tablature) provide another extract from the book/video/CD project “Flatpicking the Blues” by Brad Davis. In this project Brad teaches how to use blues scales, licks, and techniques in bluegrass songs and tunes. At the end of the book he gives a number of examples of how to use those scales and techniques in standard bluegrass tunes. “Salt Creek” is one of those tunes. Here it is played at a slow speed for instructional purposes. The tablature is provided on the Bluegrass Unlimited website, lessons page.


June 16, 2022 -This video (and tablature) is an extract from the book/video/CD project “Flatpicking the Blues” by Brad Davis. In this project Brad teaches how to use blues scales, licks, and techniques in bluegrass songs and tunes. At the end of the book he gives a number of examples of how to use those scales and techniques in standard bluegrass tunes. “John Hardy” is one of those tunes. Here it is played at a slow speed for instructional purposes. The tablature is provided on the Bluegrass Unlimited website, lessons page.


June 9, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller teaches you how to play “Salt Creek” on the 5-string Banjo. The B part of this arrangement is based on an arrangement by Alan Munde. Dan also shows a vamp style back up that can be used on this tune.


June 2, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller teaches you how to play “Redwing” on the five string banjo in the key of G.


May 26, 2022 -In this video Dan Miller first demonstrates basic bluegrass guitar rhythm and then shows what Jimmy Martin called his “rumble rhythm.” Jimmy Martin demonstrated this rhythm in an audio interview with Dan Miller that was posted as the Bluegrass Unlimited podcast (Number 83). In this video Dan demonstrates the technique and provides guitar tablature on the Bluegrass Unlimited website Lessons Page.


May 20, 2022 -In this video lesson Dan Miller teaches you how to play “Ragtime Annie” for the 5-string banjo in the key of C. The tablature can be found on the Bluegrass Unlimited website Lessons page.