Posted by Banjo23055 on Saturday, February 24, 2007
My Philosophy of Picking
Everyone has his or her own style of picking – and of course it will change as we improve, learn new material, etc. The picking style we develop is usually a result of several factors: (1) the style we were taught (2) the type of playing we like (3) what we can pick up on our own, and (4) the influence of other musicians and the people we play with.
As I mentioned in earlier writings, the man who taught and helped me was Ron Stokes. Of course he started me out with basic rolls and relatively easy songs that we all know. But Ron loved the songs played by Don Reno. This was particularly the case because Ron also played piano – ragtime, polkas, Broadway show tunes, etc. As many of you know, Don Reno played a number of those songs on the banjo. Also, Don Reno had a knack of getting some of the most unusual sounds out of a banjo. That concept fascinated both of us.
So I was particularly drawn to Reno style. This was in the middle 70’s. Well as many of you know, this was also the time when the “Chromatic Craze” was sweeping banjo land. (Melodic style – as some call it). Ron and I were determined that we were going to learn it as well. We picked up a few things on our own, but we were looking for anyone who could show us something. We would go to the festivals and hear someone do one of those scales and almost beg them to show it to us. If they would just show us where the first note started – that would be a tremendous help. Every now and then, Bluegrass Unlimited would have a tab of a chromatic lick.
We finally made some good progress in that area, and it was about this time that I started thinking about my own style. I was starting to give some lessons and I felt it important to have something I could tell students, something I could write on paper perhaps, and a way to approach different types of music.
So to recap – I started with the basics and listening to Scruggs, the Osborne’s, Jim & Jessie, the Country Gentlemen and various local banjo players. Then there was the real emphasis of Reno, then the chromatic wizardry of Bill Keith and Carl Jackson. Then right in the middle of all of that – throw in Eddie Adcock. Mix all of that together and you tell me what kind of style you will get.
As I have had a number of people ask me to explain picking and what to shoot for – I have come to this conclusion (and I am sure many of you have as well) – the ultimate goal is to have your fingers do whatever is necessary to play what you want. Remember: you are training your fingers (on both hands) to do something that is not necessarily natural – just like you do to learn typing or play the piano. Your hands are being trained and you start out with the basics.
Thanks for reading and listening to my tunes. .If there is anything in any of the songs that I post that I can explain or help you with, I will do my best. Thank you for returning the favor when I hear some of your awesome licks as well.
3 comments on “My Philosophy of Picking”
Monday, March 5, 2007 @6:54:09 PM
Excellent tune pick'n Ellet.
Thursday, April 19, 2007 @7:00:48 AM
I enjoyed reading how your style evolved. Quite differently than mine, but it just shows what influences have on what our playing. My background of plectrum style has influenced me much like your keyboard background has done.
Sunday, September 23, 2007 @11:09:05 PM
Hey, enjoyed the read and the song on the jukebox. Very informative. Have a good one.....
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