Doc and Merle Watson Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo

David Brooks

Doc and Merle Watson Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo

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Doc and Merle Watson Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo with David Brooks

This class has both online and in-person sections. Please choose whether you want to join this class in the classroom or virtually via zoom using the options above.

Course Objectives

Doc Watson may have no peer for his flatpicking and fingerpicking on the acoustic guitar. Doc’s banjo playing is also respected, though it receives much less attention. Doc himself plays down his banjo skills on the “Legacy” CD, when he tells David Holt that, “If I could get off my laziness and practice, I might could play the banjo.” Doc’s son, Merle, came late to the guitar and banjo but was a fine player in his own right. This course will teach some of their clawhammer tunes based on their audio and video recordings: 

  • “Legacy” CD with David Holt and Doc Watson
  • “The Essential Doc Watson” CD Live performances by Doc Watson
  • 1976 BBC video “3 Days with Doc Watson” (available on YouTube)

The goal of the course is to give the student an insight into the techniques used by these artists to create authentic American music on the banjo. The course text will be a PDF version of the Kindle ebook, Doc and Merle Watson: Eight Clawhammer Banjo Tabs with Lyrics, by David Brooks.

Among the tunes covered in the class are:

  • Tom Dooley
  • Froggy Went A-Courtin’
  • Georgie Buck
  • Shady Grove
  • The Cuckoo
  • Reuben’s Train

Several tunings may be used:

  • open G (gDGBD)
  • drop-C (gCGBD)
  • double-C (gCGCD)
  • sawmill (gDGCD)
  • open-D (f#DF#AD)

Tab will be provided along with step-by-step instruction. Where available, we will use YouTube videos as well.

Who Should Attend

The class welcomes experienced beginners as well as intermediate players, and tunes will be arranged to meet the needs and skills of each student.  Students should have a basic right-hand clawhammer stroke and the ability to change chords easily in Open G tuning. 

Open to everyone ages, 11 and up.