Waltons New School of Music - Introducing 5-String Banjo Course, Dublin

Introducing 5-String Banjo

Group Course for Beginners

Next course starts 25 April 2017

'When you want genuine music – music that will come right home to you like a bad quarter, suffuse your system like strychnine whiskey, go right through you like Brandreth's pills, ramify your whole constitution like the measles, and break out on your hide like the pinfeather pimples on a picked goose – when you want all this, just smash your piano, and invoke the glory-beaming banjo.'
Mark Twain


Course Description

The distinctive sound of the 5-string banjo was first pioneered by the legendary Earl Scruggs, and the instrument remains very popular to this day across many musical styles. Designed for absolute beginners, Waltons New School of Music's Introducing 5-String Banjo course provides an extensive introduction to this great instrument, including:

5-String Banjo

  • The basics – holding and playing the instrument, learning to pick the right way.
  • Right-hand technique – positioning, ‘roll’ patterns and exercises.
  • Left-hand technique – slides, slurs, hammer-ons and pull-offs, all of which give the 5-string banjo its distinctive sound.
  • Commonly used chord shapes up and down the neck of the banjo.
  • Instrumentals – students will learn some well known banjo tunes.
  • Songs – students will learn arrangements of well-known songs from both sides of the Atlantic, and will be shown how to develop their own arrangements.
  • Techniques and licks from the great banjo players.
  • Listening to recordings of 5-string banjo in various musical contexts.

Participating students will need a good quality 5-string / G banjo to bring to class and practice at home. Banjos are available from Waltons music shops and can also be purchased together with the course (see Course + Instrument Package below).

Have you enrolled in this course? See our Introduction Handout for tips on how to get the most from it.

What happens after the course has finished?

Two weeks before the end of each Introducing… course, you will be given options for continuing your tuition at the school. Although a continuation ‘Improvers’ course cannot generally be scheduled on the same day/time as the Introducing course, one can be arranged if enough students would like to continue and your teacher has timetable availability. Students can also continue their tuition with either private (one-to-one) or small group lessons with other class members (see Private, Partner & Small Group Lessons). We are happy to discuss these options with you.

A demonstration of some techniques covered in the course:

Introducing 5-String Banjo is one of our group courses for beginners. Private (one-to-one), partner, small group and one-off 'intensive' banjo lessons are also available for students at all levels, from beginner to advanced. Go to Departments & Faculty – Traditional & Folk Instruments for more information.

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 Course + Instrument Package

In association with Waltons music shops, the New School also offers a discounted Course + Instrument Package that provides students entering this course who don’t already have instruments with everything they’ll need. The package includes the course plus an SX G Banjo (regular price €239) and McBrides Deluxe G Banjo Cover (regular price €38.95), available to pick up from the school office before the first class, for a reduced 'package' price (see below).

You should purchase this Course + Instrument Package at least one week before the first class in order to ensure availability of your instrument and cover before the course begins. All instruments are subject to availability.

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 Comments from Students

'I can't speak too highly of Waltons New School of Music and of Paddy Kiernan's tuition for the banjo. I love what I am learning and go away from each lesson more motivated to learn.'
– M. O'Keeffe

'I am only sorry that I did not find out about the course sooner at age 61. Better late than never. Paddy is a fantastic teacher, and the course so far is a blast!'
– A. Fry

'Everyone should take Intro Banjo. It's my new favourite thing to do, and it's really fun to learn at the same time.'
– T. Hashmi

'The teacher is knowledgeable, friendly and above all patient.''
– G. Fay

'Very relaxed, friendly approach. Paddy encourages everyone to ask questions and is great at demonstrating.''
– P. Whyte

'Paddy made every lesson an interesting one. He is a superb teacher.'
– K. Groake

'Paddy is an excellent teacher. He explains the lessons clearly and is very friendly.'
– D. Barrett

Have you taken – or are you taking – this course? We would appreciate it if you could take a few moments to give us your feedback in a brief online questionnaire. Each term all feedback questionnaires are entered in a draw for a €50 gift token, which can be used either towards additional tuition at the school or for instruments, sheet music or accessories at Waltons Music shops.

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 Patrick Kiernan, Teacher

Paddy’s interest in the banjo developed out of his love of Irish traditional music, but later grew to encompass bluegrass, folk, jazz and world music. He was the first 5-string banjo player to undertake the MA program in Irish Traditional Music Performance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick, where he also studied Irish traditional guitar and song. He has also studied with renowned banjo players Tony Trischka and Noam Pikelny. Paddy plays and records with a number of bluegrass, folk and Irish traditional acts in Ireland and the UK. He has been teaching at the New School, where he also hosts our popular Bluegrass Slow Jams, since 2011.

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 2016-2017 Third Term Course Schedule

10 weeks, 25 April – 27 June 2017
Tuesdays 6.30 – 7.30 pm


Course Alone: €170
Course + Instrument & Cover: €415 (package savings: €32.95)

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Enrolment for this course requires a completed Enrolment Form and full payment of the course fee or course + instrument fee. Places are limited to eight, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis, based on the date of enrolment. Most of our group courses are fully booked well in advance of their start dates, so early enrolment is recommended.

Purchasing this course or course + instrument as a gift? Please complete a Gift Certificate Booking Form.

Located in Dublin city centre, Waltons New School of Music is a comprehensive music centre, combining music tuition of the highest standard with innovative approaches to music education. The New School offers tuition in the broadest range of instruments and subjects of any music school in Ireland, for students of all ages, levels and abilities.

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© 2017 Waltons New School of Music
  • 69 South Great George's Street Dublin 2 Ireland 
  • Phone: +353 1 478 1884
  • Fax: +353 1 475 1346
  • Email: info@newschool.ie
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