Instructional Music Videos -- A list of releases featuring credential-intensive performers that would teach you to play the banjo, piano, or acoustic guitar

Instructional Music Videos

If you’re an air guitarist or a shower soloist who has always wanted to move up to the real thing, why not go to the videotape? Homespun Tapes specializes in music-instruction videos, the best of which feature credential-intensive performers and can be enjoyed as entertainment as well as instruction. Here’s a sampling of the company’s most notable releases (all directed by president Happy Traum)

HOW TO PLAY THE FIVE-STRING BANJO: TAUGHT BY PETE SEEGER (1991) How homespun is Homespun? On this tape, folk legend Seeger slyly segues from ”Skip to My Lou” to Beethoven’s ”Ode to Joy” and then remarks that the latter is ”so good you’d think it was a folk song.” Equal parts performance, commentary, recollection, and solid instruction. A+

DEVELOPING YOUR OWN VOCAL AND PERFORMANCE STYLE: TAUGHT BY MARIA MULDAUR (1990) Singer Muldaur advises the aspiring performer on everything from developing a personal vocal style to handling stage fright, nutrition, dress, and playlist selection. A companion audiotape offers vocal warm-up exercises. A

THE FIDDLE ACCORDING TO VASSAR: TAUGHT BY VASSAR CLEMENTS (1991) Country fiddler Clements, veteran of over 50 years of playing and 4,000 recordings, provides a toe-tapping potpourri of basic instruction, professional tips, and how to ”play” bird calls while performing ”Listen to the Mockingbird.” A

LEARNING ROCK ‘N’ ROLL PIANO: TAUGHT BY BOB HOBAN (1991) Confessing his reverence for Jerry Lee Lewis’ musical genius, Nashville session pianist Hoban shows why by dissecting the Killer’s trademark licks — plus samples from Fats Domino, Little Richard, and others. Instruction is provided through overhead close-ups of Hoban’s keyboarding. B+

DR. JOHN TEACHES NEW ORLEANS PIANO (1989) Boogie master Malcolm ”Dr. John” Rebennack conducts a tune-filled tour of traditional R&B and reminisces about Basin Street greats. As a teacher, the laconic Doctor will never be mistaken for Our Miss Brooks, but this is as funky as instructional videos get. B+

THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR OF JORMA KAUKONEN: BLUES, RAGS, & ORIGINALS (1991) Kaukonen, guitarist for Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, uses split-screen to show beginners the basics of finger placement, chord selection, line progressions, bridges, and passes. Songs include ”Hesitation Blues,” ”West Coast Blues,” and Kaukonen’s ”Crystal City.” B+