[Dixielandjazz] Starting a High School Dixieland Group

Bill Gunter jazzboard at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 18 07:31:40 PDT 2003

Hi all,

A Canadian music teacher posted:

>I am a music teacher in Canada that is eager to start a Dixieland band.  We 
>have a number of keen students that have played in our "traditional" jazz 
>ensembles but are looking at exploring the roots of these styles in a more 
>intensive setting.

This is a worthy activity and deserves encouragement. A good start is to 
listen to the old jazz recordings.

?I have two questions:
>(1) Is there a preference concerning the type of banjo used in most 
>instrumentations (4-string or 5-string)

Oh yes . . . you definitely want the 4 string banjo. Either a plectrum 
(often the preferred instrument) or a tenor banjo. both are used extensively 
in Dixieland music. The 5 string banjo is tuned like a plectrum but has a 
fifth string attached on the side of the neck up by the fifth fret. It is 
the highest pitched string on the banjo and is played as a "drone" string. 
The style of 5 string banjo playing is more appropriate for "bluegrass" - a 
kind of country/folk style of music where the strings are plucked 
individually by musicians using finger picks to produce a bouncy, bubbling 
sort of sound. Listen to Earl Scruggs for examples of this style. 5 strings 
are rare in Dixieland music.

>(2)  Can you recommend a resource for musical arrangements (high school 
>level players).  I would appreciate any assistance or advice that you could 

I would direct your enquiries to Bob Romans ( cellblk7 at comcast.net ). Living 
in Lodi, California, Bob is a retired middle and high school band teacher 
who has formed a number of successful youth bands over the years which have 
achieved national prominence. He is a wealth of information on this very 
topic and could be a valuable resource person for your inquries.

Respectfully submitted,

Bill Gunter
jazzboard at hotmail.com

Fast, faster, fastest: Upgrade to Cable or DSL today!   

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list