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My first banjo blog entry...

Posted by Milli2 on Monday, June 21, 2010

 Every minute in the day I do not have something important to do - like paying bills, grocery shopping (yuck) cooking or other annoying household chores - I try to spend practicing the banjo.

I've played the piano for years and years; I spent a fortune paying good and friendly piano teachers. They all became sorta tired because I could not get to the point I can read sheet music fluently enough. See, I played the piano long before I started to take lessons, and that probably killed my efforts. I can listen to a song, go to the piano and play it. Not with one finger but with both hands, cords and all included. It's a nice gift to be able to do that but it caused me to not learn piano from the sheet music and thus I never got any further than my own versions of whatever I listened to. 

And now I regret wasting all those years when I could have been learning the banjo....

I was born and grew up in a small European country, the Netherlands, or Holland, in the city of Amsterdam. I have been a music lover ever since I can remember. I loved to sing, and to have friends over, play the piano and have them sing. I did hear banjo music and absolutely loved it. As a matter of fact, my (only) brother and I had developed a way to mimic the sound of a banjo, and the tunes of imaginary bluegrass music. But I never knew any real bluegrass songs and that has now become a hurdle while learning playing the banjo. I have to learn the tunes first before I can try to play them. 

But I have never been more determent (well, almost) in my life. I WILL learn to be good at it, if it is the last thing I do. And so having the members of this forum as a place to ask anything I want to ask is a huge plus and I will probably exhaust everyone's patience. So be it. 

So there, my first entry in my blog. My banjo blog. I have a few others, I make and sell jewelry on line and I do have a few other blogs. But not one as much fun as this one.

Got to go, music to learn, dvd's to watch, posts to read.

I'll be baack!

16 comments on “My first banjo blog entry...”

banjosis Says:
Tuesday, June 22, 2010 @9:30:21 AM

Hi Milli,

Sounds like you are definately musically inclined, and that is always good. I don't believe ol Jerry Lee ever learned to read piano music. :) My opinion is that you have a great advantage having already mastered the piano, whether by ear or not, and I am looking forward to hearing you play the banjo! I'm sure you will become all that you wish to be. Take care and keep it up!

Milli2 Says:
Tuesday, June 22, 2010 @12:10:42 PM

Hi Marsha et all,

Thanks for your nice comment! I wasn't quite sure if anyone ever reads these blogs but you proved it, answer is 'yes'.

I have gotten a lot of very good comments on my question about how to proceed with my practicing to learn playing the banjo. I was truly at a point that I had doubts if I would ever be able to find the way I'd had to go to get where I want to be.

We spend the winters in Florida and in the place we're staying, is a really great jamming group that gets together at least once a week but a lot of times more often than that.

And that's what I really want, I want to be able to play with that jamming group. I will have to totally adjust my practicing sessions, altho I am not quite clear how, I am hoping for some suggestions in that direction from some forum members.

I am learning from Murphy Henry's dvd and I really like that, no tabs or sheet music. But I started to realize that there has to be more that just learning to play tunes. But when you have no personal teacher, how do you get some feedback? My husband keeps saying that I'm doing great but how objective is he...??

I didn't do much with playing rolls, and I will from now on.

So I am convident I'll be able to find the right practicing plan, and I have 5 more months to practice before I'll see the jamming band so there is still some time. And if it doesn't work this coming winter, it will next winter!

Got to go. Places to see, people to annoy [:D]


saphine Says:
Tuesday, June 22, 2010 @4:58:49 PM

Hi Milli,
Sound like you are well on track with your playing. Back-up is also good to get under your belt so learning the chords up and down the neck would be a good idea. It's taken me a good few months and I'm only a teeny tiny way there but such fun learning it.
I love your ...people to annoy... quip do you mind if I borrow it? I'll be off the radar for a few weeks but will get back with tales of my fab holiday in the middle of July. Eliza

Milli2 Says:
Tuesday, June 22, 2010 @7:33:59 PM

Hi Eliza,

Thank you for your comment! By all means, please borrow the 'people....'. I have a lot more of those, all really funny, When I have a moment I will post them, one by one. I actually picked them from a lobster restaurant in Hancock Maine, (I believe it's called 'Marsha and Whimpy's' but I'm not sure). They have all these hilarious sayings stuck to the ceiling so while we're in there I'm getting a neck cramp while I'm having diner.

We're going again, in the beginning of September. I am taking my banjo with me, I feel lonley when I don't have it close. Every morning when I get up my first thought is 'I wanna play, NOW'. Where is this all going to end ? ;D

Have a wonderful evening and enjoy your vacation!

Milli2 Says:
Friday, June 25, 2010 @8:51:23 PM

Sooooooo.... Had a bad banjo day today. Does that sound dumb? I focussed on getting one particular song completely without any wrong notes and in perfect timing. It's 'John Hardy'. There are two teeny tiny moments where the timing is hard to play, so I thought I'll go and listen to it with a slowdown program. But that doesn't work with a dvd... ^&$GRF%!

I am also making a good plan. Something like a business plan but then for learing the banjo.

I could fall asleep on the edge of a dime so I'm off to bed, will be back later.


fixdent Says:
Saturday, July 10, 2010 @5:02:28 AM

Hi Millie...sounds like you are determined enough. I am in the same situation...(although not retired to florida for the winters.) I hope to retire to Arizona in 5 years. I spent a good amount of time learning notes to songs, and now spend most of my time on backup....which I find is harder. When you learn songs note for note, you will find that the jams do not have the same timing as you...and throws you for a loop.....
You gotta be able to adlib on the fly....

Sounds like you are having fun...

I wish I had started this banjo journey years ago.

Milli2 Says:
Sunday, July 11, 2010 @6:20:34 AM

Hi Gordon, Yes, I am purdy determined. I regret tremendously that I haven't had an opportunity to learn playing the banjo. It was not something that was an option where I come from. I knew the music vagely but it wasn't common.

So, I have to catch up for all the lost time. I am still working on M.Henry's 2nd disc for beginners but I also bought a dvd on vamping, and I bought a MH dvd with advanced songs. I might as well...

I am still in the process of adjusting my practicing according to where I want to go, what I want to be able to do after a while. It's a complicated issue when learning without a teacher. "What do I do now?" goes through my head constantly. Have you had or do you still have private lessons? Or an actual teacher?

And thank you for your comment!



Banjosnob Says:
Saturday, September 18, 2010 @5:49:26 AM

Have you accessed the tab library on this site and used the "Tabledit" software (freeware)?
It has helped me tremendously. If you haven't, download the "tefview" link provided.
Then review all the wonderful tabs available written in this format. You will need to get takeout after that, as your time will be very limited for cooking! Hee, Hee

Milli2 Says:
Saturday, September 18, 2010 @7:47:09 AM

Hi Lynn!

Thank you for your comment! No, I haven't looked at the library, and the Tabledit sw yet. I'm not sure if it would work on a Mac. I will go and take a look and perhaps download (if it would work on a Mac) the tefview s/w.

I am so enjoying this journey and I'm so sorry I didn't get to do this at a much younger age. But alas, it is what it is. Have a great day and thanks for your comment!


RB-1 Says:
Friday, September 24, 2010 @4:15:27 AM

'I was born and grew up in a small European country, the Netherlands, or Holland, in the city of Amsterdam.'
Me too... What neighbourhood? Couldn't have been more that 15 kilometers from where I grew up...
Do you still understand and speak Dutch?

I do teach and if I can be of any help, even at such a distance, just let me know...

Milli2 Says:
Friday, September 24, 2010 @7:53:25 AM

Goeiemorgen! Leuk om een Nederlands bericht te krijgen!!

Geboren en getogen in Betondorp, tegenover het oude Ajax stadion. Mijn vader was jeugdsecretaris en bestuurslid van Ajax dus "kat in 't bakkie" voor hem. Het was een fijne buurt om in op te groeien.

Ja hoor ik spreek en versta nog altijd Nederlands. Dat vergeet je toch nooit? Trouwens, ik ben hier 14 jaar en ik was 48 toen ik uit Nederland vertrok dus mijn Nederlandse taal zal ik nooit vergeten.

Leuk hoor, en dank je wel voor de aangeboden hulp. Ik zou alleen niet weten hoe dat in z'n werk zou kunnen gaan op afstand. Jij?

Dag, groetjes uit een prachtig zonning 78F Vermont!

RB-1 Says:
Saturday, September 25, 2010 @1:28:40 PM

Geboren in de vroedvrouwenschool aan de Ruyschstraat maar getogen in Middenmeer, richting spoordijk, 2 straten achter de Kruislaan. Hooguit 1 kilometer dus...
Wat is de wereld toch klein! Ik ben banjo beginnen te spelen in 1973, toen ik daar nog woonde.

Nu woon ik al weer bijna 30 jaar in Almere maar rijd nog bijna iedere week Amsterdam binnen over de Middenweg als ik mijn vader ga bezoeken.
Hoewel -het laatste nieuwtje-, er is een treinhalte 'Station Sciencepark' gekomen, bovenop het viaduct in de Kruislaan en ik ben in een half uurtje van deur tot deur.

Over helpen op afstand: Je zou jezelf kunnen opnemen zodat ik het hier kan afluisteren en als er volgens jou een probleem inzit, kan ik kijken of ik daar een remedie voor weet.
Just anything banjo, om het maar eens in goed nederlands te zeggen.

Dit is met, al weer sinds 1986, m'n beste maatje en huisgenoot:

Milli2 Says:
Sunday, September 26, 2010 @3:33:03 PM

Ongelooflijk zeg, bijna op elkaar's lip.........

Ga je mijn normale email adres geven, dat mailt iets makkelijker dan door de BHO.


Mopick Says:
Friday, October 29, 2010 @6:41:15 AM

Where do you all stay while in Florida? I live in Clermont, 20 miles west of Orlando.

Milli2 Says:
Friday, October 29, 2010 @12:58:01 PM

Hi Randy! Thank you for your messages! I have been reading the story of the accident. First I thought it was YOUR grandson it was about but while reading all the rest I now understand it was you...!?! What ever happened to the guy that hit you?

We stay in Hudson, Pasco County, about 25 miles North of Tampa. We have to visit the Dutch ambassee in Orlando as soon as we get to our destination because I need a new passport.

I have never been in that area so I'm a little nervous about it. Anyhoo, it's taking us 4 days to get to Hudson (we're in Vermont) so we'll need some time to recover.

Thanks again for your message, have a great weekend, keep in touch!


mike gregory Says:
Friday, October 29, 2010 @7:31:58 PM

The absolutely BEST advice I ever got, from a local Bnajo Expert:

"Kid, it's YOUR banjo. Play it any damned way you want!"

So, don't wreck yourself trying to learn to play exactly like somebody else.
PLay it any way that's fun for YOU.

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