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Banjo Lessons with Tony Trischka: The Old Cat Died

This is an old one from the vaults of our online banjo lessons (if you'll notice it even has the old logos) - but it's a good one, recorded by Tony Trischka especially for beginner banjo players out there. It's Part 3 of a series of banjo lessons about Pull-offs, and uses the song "The Old Cat Died" as a way to practice some important banjo techniques. Although the subject matter of the song isn’t exactly fun, being about the death of a cat and all, the tone is playful and it's actually a great way to practice pull-offs, hammer-ons, and slides - all in one tune.

You can follow along on the banjo tab here which Tony has transcribed for you.

Tony plays through the song so you can get a better grasp of the melody. It starts off easy enough - plucking the first string then second string, twice, followed by a pull-off on the third string. Next it repeats itself on the first and second strings.

After that combination, a hammer-on is integrated into the pull-offs and slides. The thumb is on the third pinch. And, repeat. To start Part B, repeat the hammer-on. So, the last measure of Part A is the same as the first measure of Part B.

In Part B, following the hammer-on repeat from Part A, do two slides with alternating thumb, then another hammer-on. Now, the double pull-off from earlier integrated into the alternating thumb roll, and repeat. Keep working on it until it feels natural, it's an addicting melody that can be hard to stop once you get into it - and always a fun one to play in a jam situation.

Tony speculates that this tune likely originated from the famous fiddler Joe Thompson, who passed away in 2012. So as you listen and practice the melody, imagine yourself as a fiddler and add your own unique flavor to it.

This is just a sample lesson from the Online Banjo School with Tony Trischka. If you notice at the end of the lesson, Tony says "So if you have any questions on this just send a video in and we'll get back to you." This is the best part of learning online ArtistWorks, you can always send in a video to your teacher for direct feedback on your playing.

Tony takes this part of the his banjo lessons very seriously, and will respond to your video with his own video giving you advice and guidance on how to take your playing to the next level. Even without submitting a video, there's literally hundreds of banjo lessons to watch and learn from, with new Video Exchanges™ being uploaded all the time.


Watch Tony's Free Banjo Lessons

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