Title: The Banjo: America’s African Instrument
Author: Laurent Dubois
The title of this book jumped out at me when I was searching for books on the banjo. It has great reviews on Goodreads so I thought I would give it a shot.
I didn’t realize there was enough material to write a biography on a musical instrument, but the banjo’s history is extensive. Dubois explores the earliest writings and images of the banjo to piece together how it traveled from Africa to America and the different groups that embraced and changed it. Strife shaped banjo music and some parts of this book were horrifying. I reconciled my continued interest in classic banjo songs and the twang of the instrument by realizing it’s always better to know the truth no matter how brutal.
An added bonus, Dubois introduced me to a number of different banjoists (and the word banjoist). I am now obsessed with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, even though they seem to have all moved on to solo careers. I started a Banjo playlist on Spotify so that I don’t lose track of these great artists.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a passing interest in the banjo. You’ll get a lot more than you bargained for. But keep in mind it’s an academic work. I’m glad I read it on our Surface so I could easily look up all the words I was sure Dubois was making up.
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This habit has been very challenging for me, so it’s a good time to stop and reflect.
Action Plan Progress:
- DONE – 3/3 TED Talks watched
- DONE – Created a Pinterest inspiration board
- DONE – 6/5 banjo lessons
- 36/66 days of playing the banjo
- 3/11 weekly Saturday posts
- Started a running list of pro-tips for practicing
Lessons Learned: The biggest challenge so far has been figuring out how to practice daily when I am traveling almost every week for work. This problem presented immediately, and I decided to modify my goal to 66 days of practice rather than 66 consecutive days of practice.
I’ve been struggling with the issues of traveling with my banjo.
- The cost of a hard case
- Checking the bag or carrying it around with multiple layovers
- Where to practice when I’m in a hotel
- The amount of time I will have to practice when onsite with a client
After weighing my options the choice came down to traveling with my banjo or stopping my banjo lessons. I enjoy playing way too much to give up now, so I decided to buy a hard case. I will be traveling every week for the next 2 months and I will use the rest of my time building this habit to find out if traveling with my banjo is sustainable.
I LOVE playing the banjo, and I’m glad to be taking steps to play more!
Take a look at the below video the see my progress!