Paul Hawthorne's Web Site

I'm going to offer some parts of Gestalt Banjo Vol. Zero - (tentatively subtitled Recognizing and Dealing With the Traps to Actually Learning to Play) here as the muse speaks and I get the draft together.

Section 1 - The Map.

You have been set up to fail.

Not with malice aforethought, or by any one person or thing. A culture/ society trains the mainstream of its members to learn less and less really new as they grow older, with only about 5% of the lifetime real learning happening in adulthood. This is a well documented psychological fact, verified over and over. We are trained in fact to resist new learning. This is a well hidden is hidden in plain sight.

I believe all people are geniuses, and then those skills and self image are steadily and systematically kicked out of them starting at about age 5. In the first 5 years people learn an entire spoken language or two, all the basic things of daily life, and how to manipulate mom and dad...all without books, classes, etc. That is genius performance, and we all did it. We are all fluent improvisers in conversation. Freud discovered the entire life is stored in a person's mind. Childlike learning skills are there waiting to be re-accessed. They are stored on what could be considered a huge backup hard disk drive, with a lot of passwords and encryptions protecting them.

It is your task to supply the passwords.....

There are traps in the way banjo is taught, major flaws in instruction materials, in expectations, in how we approach a new endeavor and in the interaction with the culture. This will not be a politically correct, nicey-nicey dissertation. Know the truth, and the truth can set you free. Or not..... it is all a choice.

And choice is not safe, does not include a guarantee.

If you are spacing out right now, or just resisting this idea, be assured it is merely your cultural education coming to the surface.

When you are lost in the desert, have a few supplies and want to get back to safety you need a map and you need to know where you are. This book is a map. You will have to determine where you are, and guess where to go. Then you can make a guess as to effective action, try it for a reasonable time, step back, assess, and plan your next steps.

In particular, do not take this as an indictment of the situation... that is wasted effort. It is a map so you can use the existing instructional materials, situations and navigate through your social situations and cultural training....if you are willing to pay the prices.

No one says this is going to be real easy. Having a map makes it a lot easier.


The first flaw I'll mention here for now is the expectation that by following directions to make the motions to play a tune from a printed book without a lot of listening to that tune in a real, played by a human being format, you are doomed. Less than 10% of the tune is on the printed page. You have to add the other 90% from what you internal audio memory of the music style is. Without listening, you will not have that component.

You can't learn to play well just from a book/ tablature alone. Visual learning.

You can't learn to play well just imitating the motions alone. Kinesthetic learning.

You could learn to play well just imitating a recording alone, and listening to your results. Auditory learning is the essential part. This is about sound, and the sound came first.

Synopsis: Hearing is the most important part of music, not ink on the page, or digital bits on a CD.

YOU CANNOT LEARN TO PLAY MUSIC WELL WITHOUT IMPROVING YOUR GOD GIVEN HEARING SKILLS TO HEAR DEEPER, MORE EFFECTIVELY, AND WITH BETTER DISCERNMENT AND AUDIO MEMORY. Plan on that being a significant part of your learning time. The belief someone can learn music without learning how to hear is.....guess what?... one of the traps.

By the way, no one is tone deaf. No one. This means you too. Many people have not acquired musical tone skills, believe that they are tone deaf, have been told that by someone who supposedly knows, an Authority like a music teacher in 2nd grade, has been told to "just stand in the back and hum" ......and no one is tone deaf.

I can prove this to anyone in under 15 seconds.


~Gestalt Banjo Vol. Zero~

I believe there may be something in my emails with Paul about the proof or that there are some notes on his PC. If anything can be found, I'll post it here.


Last Updated 29 Sep 2006 by PJH

Edited 08 Apr 2007 by WF