Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

532
Banjo Lovers Online


First Performance

Posted by JohnWaters on Sunday, May 25, 2014

likes this

Today my wife and performed together at our church - two services and about 700 people. My wife played guitar, I played banjo, and a friend sang. No banjo has ever been used in my church's 80 year history; this was the first time that I have ever performed with the banjo for an audience; it was my wife's first break, and our friend had never even heard of the song we chose. It was an incredible success, so I thought I would document the experience for others who may consider "coming out".

I bought my first banjo 13 months ago. I have practiced about 3 hours a day since then. This felt too early to perform for others, but I was asked to do a special for the morning services, and I did not want to lose the opportunity. (They expected us to play guitar and bass as we have done in the past.) We had a month's notice.

I chose a slow song with a simple melody - The Great Speckled Bird. I listened to Roy Acuff's version until I knew it well and could hum/sing every note. Then,
1. I tried to pick out the melody on the banjo. That did not take too long.
2. For the break, I added Scruggs licks only where they seemed appropriate - chokes, slides, hammer-ons/pull-offs and a very common ending lick.
3. For the backup, I mainly used a different inversion for each verse. On one verse, I played two inversions for each measure. I filled in gaps with 2nd & 6th notes and short slides. I played a basic forward roll except for occasional backwards rolls on chord changes.

I practiced the song about 200 times (estimated). Then my singer told me 2 days ago that he could not sing it in G - it had to be C. LOL. So, I re-tuned my banjo to G# and put a capo on the fourth fret. Then I practiced it another 50 times.

I emphasized to my wife (mostly out of my own need to hear it), that we were each going to make at least one mistake. So, remember to breathe; don't pause; and DON'T give any indication that you made a mistake. We did make a few minor mistakes, but I honestly don't think anyone noticed. Probably the worst was my wife skipping over a half measure of her break. :-) I was listened and just shortened the measure to fit.

Guys -- we got a thunderous applause at both services. Everyone LOVED it.

My takeaways.
- expect to be nervous and make mistakes, but practice enough that you can recover and keep going
- keep your first song simple and a little on the slow side
- focus on the song and nothing else

My sincere thanks to John Boulding (banjophobic) for being a great teacher and to to my friends here at the hangout who helped prepare me.

We had a great time, and if you are considering your first time, I know that you will too! 

 



Be the first to comment on “First Performance”

You must sign into your myHangout account before you can post comments.



More posts from JohnWaters

Newest Posts

Click for Details 'Staghorn' 53 min

More >  

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.078125