A Book Of Five Strings - online tutorial

Strategies for mastering the art of old time banjo.

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The plus side to singing is that you can't really think and sing at the same time. Singing will force you to start listening and interacting with the flow of the music instead of trying to remember what note to hit. This is the first step to improvising.
Let's look at another tune. "Little Maggie" is a bluegrass and old time favorite that's a lot of fun to play and sing.
Little Maggie 4/4 Time Key of G
The first time I seen little Maggie She was sitting by the banks of the sea. Had a forty-five strapped 'round her shoulder and a banjo on her knee. Now she's marching to the station with a suitcase in her hand. She's going for to leave me She is bound for some distant land.
Now compare the tab for Little Maggie To Cripple Creek. You will see that we are just playing the same picking pattern to a new chord progression.
Now think about this for a second. We have two completely different songs but when we break them down into a simple back up pattern we find that they share a basic structure. If you pick up a book of folk, bluegrass or old time songs you will find that this approach will work for a pretty wide range of tunes in 4/4 time. All you have to do is play the chord progression along with an appropriate picking pattern and you're good to go. In fact, if all you ever learn is how to change a few chords and play a simple rhythm you can sing thousands of songs.
Understanding this, "seeing" this, is essential if you want to jam, learn songs or improvise. Get a songbook and start experimenting.