I am learning on a basic open back banjo in the clawhammer style. Clawhammer, or old time banjo, is a much different way of playing than the more popular bluegrass style. The style is older and was played in the mountains by miners and farmers. Clawhammer was developed because the workers' hands were crippled by years behind the plow and sledge hammer. The banjo is played with a "claw shaped hand" or an arthritic pose. I thought this was very interesting-since my hands will probobly end up looking the same way from grasping my metalsmithing tools.
While I love both styles of banjo playing, clawhammer will allow me to sing along better than the more excitable three finger bluegrass picking. I hope to get a microphone for the computer so I can record my progress. I am looking forward to seeing how fast I improve. I am also trying to learn as much as I can about the fascinating history of the banjo!