So simple, anyone can follow it.
Matthew F. Merta | Hamtramck, MI USA | 08/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"People, it doesn't get much easier than this when it comes to practicing at home. "Dr. Banjo" Pete Wernick slows it down even further than his successful Bluegrass Jamming video so that anyone with an acoustic instrument (even the most novice player) can get comfortable performing with other musicians.
With the help of Colorado bluegrass musicians such as Nick Forster, Sally Van Meter, Drew Emmitt and others, this video covers nearly two hours worth of folk and bluegrass standards that are sure to be familiar to almost anyone. Wernick has chosen to keep these interactive performances to their simplest form by sticking with four common music chords (G, C, D and A), and eliminating solo breaks on most of the songs.
Along with the 17 play-along songs, there are also jamming tips presented between songs. Wernick is a great motivator to get people started playing musical instruments, and his laid-back yet factual presentation shows that he is probably the best at this position. A great addition to this edition is the simultaneous viewing of the guitar player's fretting hand so that the student can be familiar with chord changes. Wernick also varies up the overall performance by having everyone at the session perform vocally. While the vocal skills vary in quality, it does give off the message that at bluegrass and folk jam sessions such as this, one doesn't have to be "professional" to have a good time performing.
The only weakness to this video is the overall production and editing. There are too many times that Wernick has make up "excuses" for changes to props and lineups that could flow better if a script was followed more closely. However, since this is being used more for educational and instructional entertainment purposes, the flaws are not a major factor.
Besides being a useful tool for the absolute beginner, this video has another useful purpose. Many musicians learn a second or third instrument to make themselves more versatile, especially when attempting to join a band. Since these are familiar songs, a guitarist attempting to learn banjo, mandolin, fiddle or whatever may find that he/she has an instant backing track to simple but complete songs to work on the new instrument.
Wernick has been a great ambassador of teaching bluegrass and folk music for a number of years, and this video helps to get his wonderful educational message out to more potential musicians who are not familiar with him. Bluegrass Slow Jam should be recommended to anyone learning a new acoustic instrument and wanting to see and hear how it is to work with other musicians before going "live." (Matt Merta, The Bluegrass Journal)
A Great Buy - best learning tool I've seen
Richard Osborne | 08/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just bought "Bluegrass Slow Jam for the Total Beginner" and "Intermediate Bluegrass Jamming" DVDs. I popped the "Beginner" DVD into my PC and started playing along. I played the entire DVD at one sitting (my fingertips were really dented afterwards too). It was a total blast singing and playing with the jam group, consisting of a Bass, Mandolin, Banjo, Guitar, Dobro, and Fiddle. Pete Wernick (Dr. Banjo) gives instruction on playing along with a jam. He emphasizes playing by watching and listening because most of bleugrass music was not written down until the early 60s. This affected me because I have always needed the music to play. I realize that I need to develop that ability. The jam asks you to play breaks (solos) and he gives you some hints on how to play something, anything really, for your break. Even though they use only four chords (G, D, C, A) in the "Beginner" DVD, it still was a good lesson in changing chords in real-time. I was exhausted, thrilled, and satisifed with my purchase."
Good for beginner
Al | Kissimmee, Florida | 01/26/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Purchased for my kids to play with. They enjoyed it, anytime you can "jam", even with the video it is helpful.. I think that it may have helped their timing and confidence."