Deciding to play the banjo is one of the best decisions you can make. But once you have the banjo in your hands, you may worry about how to get started and which banjo songs for beginners are the best ones for you to learn.
It can be a little intimidating to learn how to play a new instrument, especially if you have never had a chance to do this before. Some of the best banjo songs for beginners that you should consider helping you learn and progress your skills include:
15 Best Banjo Songs for Beginners
When you first get started with playing the banjo, you want to make sure you pick the right songs. You probably have a list of songs that you want to eventually work up to and play, but starting with simple songs and fun is a much better way to help you learn and motivate you along the way. Some of the best banjo songs for beginners include:
1. Cripple Creek:
This is a simple song is one that all banjo players should start with. It is often considered one of the easiest banjo songs to play. It has a simple tune and easy chords that can take some of the intimidation out of learning to play the banjo.
2. American Pie:
This is one you have likely heard before but it is simple enough for a beginner. You can start just by strumming four left-hand positions and then increase it as your skills improve.
3. Cotton-Eyed Joe:
While this one can get kind of crazy, it has a simple chord progression and you can slowly increase the speed.
4. Hush Little Baby:
Simple and short, making it perfect to help you learn.
5. Ring of Fire:
This is not often used on the banjo but it is a good one to get some practice with.
6. She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain:
This one sounds like a banjo song, which will help make it more fun. You can play the basic version with the G, C< and D chords, and then progress up as needed.
7. Ground Speed:
This is a song that has been covered by so many artists, but you will still have fun learning how to play it.
8. Hot Corn, Cold Corn:
This is a simple song that allows you to add on layers as you progress.
9. Wagon Wheel:
There are many beginner versions of this song to make it even more fun.
10. Blowing in the Wind:
This is a classic of Bob Dylan that will use the G, C, and D chords so it is easy for a beginner to learn.
11. Buffalo Gals:
This is a traditional folk song that sounds amazing with a Banjo and focuses just on the G and D major chords, making it easy to learn.
12. Brown Eyed Girl:
This one will use a few new chords but it still a great one to use when progressing up and learning more. It will focus on Gmajor, Cmajor, and D7.
13. Clinch Mountain Backstep:
This has a simple chord progression and a simple melody, making it the perfect option to use no matter your skill level.
14. Salt Creek:
This is a good one to use if you plan to take your banjo skills to play in a band. It is also a catchy song so it is more likely to stick with you.
15. You Are My Sunshine:
This one works best on a 5-string banjo and allows you to move up through different chords as you need. You will learn how to implement all of the different strings with this one.
Popular Banjo Songs
After you have a chance to learn some of the best banjo songs for beginners that we talked about above, you may want to branch out and try some different songs to see how well your skills are progressing. A few of the most popular banjo songs to consider include:
- Foggy Mountain Breakdown
- The Air is Getting Slippery
- The Coo-Coo Bird
- Dueling Banjos
- The Great Remember
- Old Man
- Pretty Polly
Easy Banjo Song Tabs
A banjo tab is a way of reading and writing out banjo music that is very similar to some of the standard musical notations that you would see with some of the other instruments you want to learn. Learning some of the easy banjo songs tabs will make it easier for you to play from memory and enjoy your time as a banjo player.
If you look at a tablature without any notes on it, you would be able to easily compare it to a standard piece of musical paper. There is a group of horizontal lines that go all along with the page and then some vertical ones to separate it. If you play a 4-string banjo, there are four horizontal lines in a group. Five-string banjos have five lines and six would have six lines.
This works a little bit differently when you use the tablature for a banjo than say for a piano. The lines will represent the strings on the banjo and can tell you exactly where to place your finger. If the beat should be held for a whole note, which is four beats, then you would hold the string that long after strumming. The length of notes you should consider include:
- Whole note: This equals four counts.
- Half note: This equals two counts.
- Quarter note: This equals one beat.
- Eighth note: This equals one half of a count.
Best Easy Banjo song Tab:
If you would like to work with banjo songs that utilize the tab marking, there are a ton of great options that can make this easy. Some of the best ones include:
- Joy to the World
- Jingle Bells
- Yankee Doodle
- Turkey in the Straw
- Three Blind Mice
- Danny Boy
- American the Beautiful
- The farmer in the Dell
- Old MacDonald Had a Farm.
As you can see, many of these easy songs to learn with tablature are Christmas and church songs. This will help you to recognize a few of them and can make playing a little more fun as you try to get it down.
Learning how to play these on the tab will make it easier to get some practice and understand how each one is meant to work.
What Makes a Song Easy for Beginners?
Several things make these songs easier for a beginner to learn. Some of the reasons that the songs on our list are easier for you to learn include:
- They are fun: When a song is fun to play, it is easier to learn. You can learn many songs but if they are not fun, the whole process will seem like drudgery.
- Simple strumming: The easier it is to strum the notes, the easier it is to learn the song.
- They work on the key of G: When you are in standard tuning, you can play all five strings open to make your G chord. This makes it easier to play because you don’t need to push down any strings yet.
- How many chords are in the songs: The songs have four chords or less to play. This makes it easier to learn because you don’t need countless chords to get things done.
How Should I Hold the Banjo?
The next thing that we need to take a look at is the correct way to hold a banjo. This will make it easier to move your fingers around to hold the notes and can ensure that you will easily strum along and make some amazing music.
The way that you hold the banjo will often depend on how much you would like to look at the fingerboard. It is best if you learn the right positions as early on so the banjo can face forward, but tilting it a bit as you learn is not too bad.
We can start with the left hand. You will use this to hold onto the neck of the banjo, but do not do it too tightly. You can let the neck rest between the thumb and index finger. Bend the fingers at both joints and hold down so your fingertips are on the strings.
Then you can move on to the right hand. This is what you use for strumming the strings. Have the banjo sitting comfortably on your lap, finding a position for you. The neck of the banjo should be held up a bit. You can decide what is comfortable for you but it is often recommended not to have it above eye level. Your right arm can go over the top of the banjo, positioning the fingers so they can easily strum the strings that you want.
Best Banjo Songs for Beginners: FAQ’s
Q: What is the Easiest Song to Play?
The easiest banjo song to play will depend on each individual and what they like to work with. Many agree that Cripple Creek or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star are nice easy songs to learn when you first get started. However, if you find a song that interests you, then that is a good one for you to spend some time on it.
Q: How to Play an Easy Song on the Banjo?
The best way to play an easy song on the banjo is to find the tablature sheet for that song. This will help you learn some of the basic finger placements that you need and you can work through it at your own d. You may find that it is helpful to learn some of the chords and memorize them because this can speed up the process. For example, if you already know the chord the song is in, you can easily get your fingers in place to handle this, without having to rely completely on the sheet music.
Q: How Much Time Do I Need to Practice?
You should set aside some time to practice daily. Of course, the more you practice the better you will get. But setting aside ten to fifteen minutes a day for some review and to see improvement works well for most beginners. Set aside some sometimes day to practice and draw up a routine so you are more likely to stick with it, even when you may not be motivated.
Q: What Can Help Make Banjo Songs Easier?
First, learning a few simple chords and scales will make it easier. When you know some of these scales and have them memorized, it is easier for you to play the beginner songs and then progress to things thatare moree difficult things practicing, and learning how to read the tabs, can make this easier too.
Q: What are the Best Chords to Learn on a Banjo?
There are a lot of different chords that you can learn when you first get started on a banjo. The most common ones found in the songs we listed above include G, C, and D. As G just requires you to strum all of the strings on the banjo, without pushing down any notes, it is an easy one to learn.
The other two may take a little longer but will help you play easier. Learning how to play any chord, whether it is a major or a minor chord, will help you progress. But starting with these three is a good choice and you can progress from there.
Learning some of the best banjo songs for beginners takes some time and practice to get down. The more you learn how to play and the more songs you are willing to experiment with, the easier this becomes. Try out some of the popular banjo songs that we discussed above and see how quickly your skills can progress.