Intro to Melodic-Style Banjo with Ira Gitlin

Sunday, October 10, 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Melodic banjo playing (sometimes called Keith-style or chromatic banjo), pioneered by Bill Keith and Bobby Thompson in the 1960s, is a powerful extension of bluegrass technique that opens up expansive musical vistas. But it can be confusing to those who are new to it. This single-session, two-hour class, aimed at students who have a basic grasp of Scruggs-style playing, will demystify melodic banjo by exploring the principles behind it. We’ll look at how scales are constructed, and use that knowledge to build a couple of useful licks and a fiddle-tune arrangement.


Online: Class will be held on the free Zoom video conferencing app. You will need a laptop with a webcam, or a smartphone or tablet (please have Zoom installed and tested before you join the session). SMT will send instructions via email for joining the Zoom event 1-2 days before the session. If you do not see the instructions, please check your spam folder. You may also email us. Please note that we do not provide refunds for students who cannot find the link.

IRA GITLINIra Gitlin is widely known and respected in Washington-Baltimore music circles as a versatile multi-instrumentalist, teacher, and writer. A former National Bluegrass Banjo Champion, he has backed up such nationally known performers as Bill Harrell, the Johnson Mountain Boys, Laurie Lewis, Peter Rowan, and Peter “P.D.Q. Bach” Schickele.

In addition to numerous festival workshops, Ira has taught at the Maryland Banjo Academy, the Swannanoa Gathering, the Augusta Heritage Center, Banjo Camp North, Folk College, and the Midwest Banjo Camp. He has lectured on bluegrass for the Smithsonian Associates, and delivered papers at the 2005 and 2017 Bluegrass Music Symposiums.

In 1993 Ira was a one-day winner on Jeopardy.

$40 Workshop

Event Details
  • Start Date
    October 10, 2021 5:00 pm
  • End Date
    October 10, 2021 7:00 pm
  • Status
  • Location
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