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Bluegrass Banjo Lesson: Leapfrogging 6ths with Tony Trischka


Parallel sixth harmonies can be heard throughout countless musical genres. They’re particularly prevalent, however, in country and bluegrass styles, and often function as a tool to transition smoothly between chords or key centers within a tune. As such, it’s important for bluegrass musicians of all instruments and skill levels to practice parallel sixth passages and develop a firm understanding of how to find them on their instrument and utilize them in the context of a song or improvisation.


In this advanced online banjo lesson, world-renowned bluegrass banjo player and member of our premier faculty here at ArtistWorks, Tony Trischka teaches an interesting method for incorporating parallel sixth patterns into your alternating backward and forward banjo rolls. Tony refers to this approach as “Leapfrogging 6ths,” and employs them to add excitement and intricacy to a melodic line or improvised solo. In addition to sounding great, they’re a lot of fun to practice and play.


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play bluegrass banjo from a master musician like Tony Trischka? Try some free online banjo lessons now!


“Adding Leapfrogging, or Creeping 6ths as I like to call them, to your alternating backward and forward rolls creates a really beautiful sound,” Tony explains. “They add detail to a relatively straightforward concept and can blossom into really interesting embellishments within your playing.”


When approaching Leapfrogging 6ths, as with most techniques on the banjo, it’s critical that you pay attention to the position of your picking hand. Picking closer to the bridge will create a sound with more attack and bite while playing toward the fretboard will create a warmer, fuller tone.


“I prefer the tonality of Leapfrogging 6ths when I play further away from the bridge,” Tony explains. “It sounds a little bit sweeter to me that way. But, at the end of the day, it’s all about preference and what you prefer to hear. So, don’t be afraid to explore.”


To learn how to play Leapfrogging 6ths and incorporate them into your backward and forward 5-string banjo rolls, dive into this online banjo lesson from Tony Trischka:


Leapfrogging 6ths with Tony Trischka:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play bluegrass banjo? Through our comprehensive banjo lessons online and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Tony Trischka, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Tony’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner banjo to advanced performance techniques and classic bluegrass tunes. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as banjo players and musicians.


Try out some free sample music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



ArtistWorks Music Series Podcast—Artist Bio Series: Tony Trischka

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Bluegrass Banjo Lesson: Righthand Positioning with Tony Trischka




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