Murphy Method’s first advanced banjo camp

Murphy Henry is surely among the foundational members of the banjo instructional community. Since she lived in northern Florida, Murphy has taught both private and group lessons, and hosted banjo camps designed to teach others the joy of the five string banjo.

Since moving to northern Virginia some years ago, Henry has founded her own company, The Murphy Method, and created instructional materials for banjo students at every level. Starting out with audio tapes targeted at pickers who had difficulty learning from printed music, she has moved from there to video tapes, and now DVDs and downloads over the company’s 35 years in business.

They now offer dozens of lessons on DVD for all the instruments in the bluegrass band, plus one on vocal harmony, bluegrass style.

More recently, Murphy and her daughter, Casey, have been offering weekend banjo camps near their home in Winchester, VA. Like all the Murphy Method products, they are geared towards a fun, no-stress learning environment with all material presented without tablature or printed music. Each camp they offer has a specialty, like the Women’s Banjo Camp in July, or the popular beginner and intermediate camps on the schedule.

But this April, for the first time, they will host an Advanced Banjo Camp at the Courtyard Marriott in Winchester. Though she has played professionally most of her life, Murphy sees herself more as a teacher that a hot shot picker, so she will have Casey Henry and Tom Adams as the instructors on staff for April 20-22.

The $700 registration fee covers all the classes that weekend, plus lodging at the hotel Friday and Saturday nights, and lunch.

The web site describes a list of pre-requisites and the following description of the advanced camp:

This unique camp will focus on more advanced playing skills including (but not limited to): backup, fiddle backup, improvising, getting melody into your improvising, studying recordings by slowing them down, obscure tunes of Earl’s, playing in C position, D position, 3/4 time, improvising up the neck, practice techniques, tone, timing, taste, attack, and cleaning up your playing. Everything will be taught BY EAR.

Murphy will also be on hand to lead jam sessions and offer help and encouragement.

Anyone who has studied with various Murphy Method DVDs should feel right at home at this camp, but it is not required that you have in order to attend.

You can find all the details online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.