Hello Hudson Valley bluegrass people! It was in the Hudson Valley where I first got hooked on bluegrass so I thought it might be time to return to my roots to get the word out about bluegrass instructional books I’ve been writing out here in Arizona, where I now live. Your editor Lynn was gracious enough to invite me to submit a short article about them.
But first a bit about me – I have been a working musician my entire life, in many genres. I actually started out as an aspiring music conservatory brass student eventually getting a degree in studio music as a guitar major. Long story short – I loved performing, but it wasn’t long before I realized I needed to supplement my music gig income and so I became a private guitar and banjo instructor. I had a challenge to come up with a system for teaching music basics like reading, music theory and all those things that my primary clientele of teenage kids were bored to death with! But – looking back over 40 years of teaching I have realized it has been, and will continue to be, the dominant force in my life as a musician. This is where the almost magical circle of teaching and learning has come into play. For every lesson that I’ve taught, I found I learned exponentially more about that particular aspect of musical knowledge than I would impart.
When we moved away and I left my NY teaching business behind, I decided I wanted to document what I’ve learned from teaching people over the years. I set about learning about the self publishing world and found Amazon’s KDP “print on demand” program.
My first book, New Techniques for 5 string Banjo – Volume 1 – Beginner was published in 2019; followed by Volume 2- Beyond Beginner – Journeyman/Journeywoman in 2020 and Volume 3 – Pickin’ Power – Up from the Foundation in 2021. I give much credit to my banjo instructor Roger Sprung for my inspiration for these volumes. They contain the essence of what I know from my 50 or so years of playing the instrument. Each volume includes an audio companion where I lead you through the lessons.
Comments from Amazon customers:
“Jeff Belding has written a wonderful book for banjo students at every level. I know Jeff personally, and he is an expert banjo player who has the gift of teaching what he knows. We banjo players here in Arizona who know Jeff feel privileged to have him as a resource. Jeff has taught banjo most of his life and really understands how to take complex musical issues and simplify them for the student. One reason alone to buy this book is something that Jeff offers that no one else does: A list of about 80 banjo rolls. . . . .”
Peter Conklin, HVBA Vice-President:
“When I was 15 years old I began taking electric bass lessons from Jeff Belding in Poughkeepsie. Two years later, Jeff had me flat picking acoustic guitar and then, 20 years later I began learning bluegrass mandolin from Jeff. Just recently, using his book for Banjo beginners (Volume 1), I have learned how to play the 5-string banjo….surprising all of my bluegrass friends. I find his books, coupled with his videos, to be very understandable and easy to learn from. I heartily recommend Jeff Belding’s books to all who want to learn.”
My latest books are a two volume series Bluegrass Flatpick Guitar – Solos, Licks and Tricks for later beginner/intermediate guitarists. The songs included in these volumes mirror those in the banjo books and include video access. These books give example guitar solos that can be played verbatim but also provide ideas on licks that can be applied to any typical bluegrass break. I like to say “licks and tricks for the mind’s file cabinet” that you can call up when they point to YOU for the next break during a jam.
All of these books mentioned so far are not only available in paperback format but now are also available on Kindle.
I’ve also published Twelve Songs of Christmas, Duets for Five String Banjo and Guitar (Time to start dusting off those tunes for the holidays!). Finally, I also have two “Sketchbooks” – one for guitar and one for banjo that contain blank tab and other resources for keeping track of new information you may encounter in a jam or at a festival.
All books are available for sale on Amazon. There are also direct links to each book on Amazon from my website where you will also find links to the audio/video companions as well as my blog and much more.
Thank you in advance if you decide purchase any of my books. It would be my honor and pleasure to have helped you in enhancing your own musical development. Happy pickin’ to all!