Enda Scahill’s Irish Banjo Tutor Volume II

Ambitious players – start here

If you’re an ambitious tenor banjo player, keen to pick up some of the more advanced techniques that you hear on your favourite CD’s, then Enda Scahill’s Irish Banjo Tutor Volume II is probably just what you’ve been waiting for.

Volume I was a nifty book with two accompanying CD’s that covered all the basics. Now, in Volume II, Enda takes us through just about every form of ornamentation ever dreamed up on the Irish tenor.

The two CD’s follow the kind of instruction you would typically get, either at a banjo class, or from a personal tutor. Enda starts-out with a great reel, The New Post Office, first played slow and straight, then a little faster with some basic ornamentation. This is followed by ‘The Champion’ jig, given the same treatment.

It’s best to learn the tunes by ear otherwise you’re going to struggle to get to grips with the little twists and turns when the melodies are augmented and ornamented as CD 1 progresses. Tabs and dots are provided in the book if you need them, though guitarist will need to work out their own chords for accompanyment – and rightly so!

But first – relax

Before you even pick up the banjo though, Enda runs through some relaxation techniques. It may sound a bit wacky at first, but it really works. Often at a session I’ve found myself hunched, tense and gritting my teeth, trying to keep up with a fast tune. Relaxation and breathing exercises are all part of the package in Enda’s tutor.

Rather than flick quickly past the ‘Scales and Exercises’ section of the new tutor I decided to give the exercises a try. What a revelation! My fingering was absolute rubbish. After about thirty minutes practicing some of Enda’s carefully crafted exercises I found myself playing like a pro – fast and smooth, with amazing economy of movement.

Don’t get too carried away though, this tutor won’t make you a star overnight. If your basic technique is as bad as mine you’ll need to unlearn a lot of your bad, old habits.

Personally I find Volume II much more fun to work through than the first book. The tunes on the two CD’s are challenging and enjoyable to play. They include:

Geoghan’s Reel
Ships are Sailing
The Galway Hornpipe
The Sailor on the Rock
Last Night’s Fun
The Boys of the Town
Kimmel’s Jig
The Monaghon Twig
The Liverpool Hornpipe
Jerry Beaver’s Hat
The Rambler
John McNeil’s Reel
The Bunch of Green Rushes
The Daisy Field
The Soporific Hornpipe
The Cameronian
The Wind that Shakes the Barley
The Home Ruler Hornpipe
Poor Old Liza Jane
Liam Farrell’s
Frank Keane’s
The Ten Penny Piece
The Fog in the Bog
The Drunken Landlady


along with interesting arrangements of The Connacht Man’s Rambles and Banish Misfortune.

While most of these tunes make regular appearances in sessions across the globe, Enda uses them here to demonstrate the ornamentation and techniques taught on CD 1 of the two CD set.

Lilting like an old man from Connemara

I just hope that everyone gets the ‘Keep it Simple’ message. This book can take you up to the highest levels of skill on the banjo, but the advanced ornamentation is more suited to a performance situation.

There are too many techniques to list, but here are a few of them anyway:

Stuttered Trebles/Triplets
Triplets in arpeggio style
Crab walk triplet runs
Double string trebles
String bends


…and lilting like an old man from Connemara…

Then there’s chords, old time banjo, and strange banjo things that nobody’s put a name to.

When you’ve mastered this lot (it will probably take a lifetime) you’ll be able to walk into a session like  gun-toting Lee Van Cleef  in a spaghetti western – you know that you’ve got it, but for God’s sake don’t use it unless you have to.

Get your copy of Volume II here:


You know that you've got it - but you don't have to use it

You know that you’ve got it – but you don’t have to use it


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