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BanjoHero, the First Year, and the Short List (guide for the self taught banjo picker)

Posted by Richard Dress on Tuesday, March 16, 2010


(A lesson planning guide for the self taught banjo picker)


see updated manual download PDF with illustrations

5 comments on “BanjoHero, the First Year, and the Short List (guide for the self taught banjo picker)”

Banjov1 Says:
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 @10:49:07 PM

Hey Richard, Good Stuff!!

Since you nudged me into slowing down and getting that ultimate feel going in my right hand last year, I feel I've made some great strides!

I was sort of glossing over right hand problems I had with reverse rolls (especially syncopated ones) and it was unknowingly holding me back. After touching base with you, I sort of layed off the more complicated stuff I was learning and really just focused on my right hand alot. I sat for hours and days and just played reverse rolls. Sometimes with no left hand at all. Eventually I started to get comfortable and I really started to feel the groove with the reverse patterns.

I can't tell you how much this has helped my overall playing. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

By the way... that's quite the funky new avatar you got there

racer Says:
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 @5:12:32 AM

hi a little scarey reading but you have pointed me in the right direction i have been trying hard but to no avail but after seven months of practise and reading your article i think iam right were i am suppose to be i had a teacher but he said i was taking to long but the bottom line is when it does come to-gether it sure is a lot of fun keep on picking thanks ron

pcfive Says:
Monday, March 22, 2010 @5:01:11 PM

I think your message is that we should spend more time learning the feel of bluegrass music, and less time on drills and memorization. I think I have tried to do that within the past year, and it seems to me I have a much better feeling for the bluegrass rhythm now.

I am spending less time with tabs and with the metronome, and most of my time lately is spent playing along with recordings.

I already know a lot of chords, from playing backup at jam sessions, and I have already memorized 30 or so songs. I can figure out any bg song if it's simple.

I had been wondering what to focus on next, or whether to just continue this way for now. What I am doing now feels right to me. I had followed your suggestions, I think, in trying to get the feel of the rhythm.

I have been very much focused on the right hand, and I have noticed a very big difference.

I still need a lot more work, but I think I am going in a good direction. But I'm not sure.

I like practicing this way, without a lot of metronome or drills. I like playing along with recordings because it feels like real playing, not just practicing. And it improves my timing more than the metronome, I think.

Now I only use the metronome to check my speed. Not sure if this is ok or not. But I don't enjoy playing with the metronome and it doesn't give me the same kind of sense of rhythm.

Richard Dress Says:
Monday, March 22, 2010 @5:44:32 PM

I think you are doing the right thing, PC. Metronomes and drills don't help much, but improving your rhythm and right hand as you are doing will lock in both timing and speed. I am glad to hear that you are improving.

I like to practice with the looper drum machine when my rhythm is not locked in. Metronomes make me feel cramped. Sometimes when I am feeling right I can get almost perfect timing without thinking about it. I wish I could get it all the time. My draft BanjoHero includes a new video of short clips with and without the looper.

Thanks, all of you who have read this long blog. I wish it didnt go on and on. It started out small and just kept growing. I am still working on improvements and will soon republish the blog with links to a a downloadable PDF or a webpage reference. Those two sources should have the both the hyperlinks and missing illustrations.

pcfive Says:
Monday, March 22, 2010 @5:57:42 PM

The more information you can give us the better, in my opinion, so I don't think you should worry if it's long. I think we all want to find out how we can get to be good at playing banjo without wasting a lot of time on things that are boring and don't really work. There is so much to learn and it's great to have some expert guidance.

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