Learn About the Banjo
The banjo, commonly thought of as a Southern American instrument, in fact was created and brought to North America by enslaved people from West Africa and their descendants. Join professional banjo player and UMS teaching artist Keith Billbik for an exploration of the origins and melding of African-American and European musical traditions. Learn how to create rhythmic phrases that will have you strumming and plucking along to your favorite song!
To learn more about the history of the banjo explore the accompanying slides and worksheets.
Grades 1-6 (Ages 5-11)
About the Artist
Keith Billik is best known for his recordings and concert performances with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys, Mark Lavengood’s Bluegrass Bonanza, and many other groups in his nearly twenty years playing 3-finger banjo. You may also recognize Keith from his ten years as Showroom Manager and teaching banjo lessons at the world-famous Elderly Instruments, or because of his long-standing role as the sound guy and faculty member at the Midwest Banjo Camp. Keith is also the creator and host of The Picky Fingers Banjo Podcast, launched in early 2018, which is listened to by banjo enthusiasts worldwide.
Although banjo has been his primary instrument since picking it up (pun intended) in college, Keith has also performed on various other instruments such as the saxophone, keyboards, and guitar, which gives him a broad range of influences to incorporate into his playing. Keith currently lives in the Detroit area and is proud to be a guest instructor for the UMS Performance Playground!