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Banjo versus TV: Week 5

Posted by jrjenks on Monday, February 4, 2008

Banjo 41 hrs, TV 31 hours
A weekly check-in on the Banjo versus TV project -- J.R.'s resolution to spend more time in 2008 on his banjo than on TV.

After the shaming that my instructor, Mike, gave me at the last couple of lessons, it was a treat for both of us that . . . I sounded good this time!!!

Really! About four days before my lesson, my forward roll kicked in. I experienced that moment of learning when my fingers just started playing it on their own. My basal ganglia said to me, "J.R., I'll take it from here."

So the lesson was wonderful. Mike said he was so pleased at what I'd accomplished. We played some duets and he said -- honest! -- "I actually had fun playing with you."

And all was right with the world.

Also in the last week:

  • Attributed to Pete Wernick aka Doctor Banjo: "NO! Try it again! LOOP THAT PHRASE!!!! Don't you know an amateur will play it until they get it right, PROFESSIONALS PLAY IT UNTIL THEY CANNOT GET IT WRONG."
  • The arrival of my Banjo Hangout Players Union t-shirt.
  • Since the lesson it's been kind of a low-practice week, what with one thing or another robbing me of my time. But it's been an even-lower-TV week, so the scale has really tipped in the banjo's favor.


Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog

5 comments on “Banjo versus TV: Week 5”

PruchaLegend Says:
Monday, February 4, 2008 @11:43:37 PM

You are making great progress. With any luck someone will mention something on TV and you won't even know what it is. Anyway, sounds like the picking is getting the big share and that's good. Keep it up and good luck. :-)

stanger Says:
Tuesday, February 5, 2008 @5:51:59 AM

Hi, JR... Congratulations! While it's very easy to say 'I'll pratice more', it usually requires real effort to get deeply into the stuff that starts to happen when you do practice regularly. Just watch- pretty soon you will have a steady urge to play regularly. Watching tv is largely failry low brain activity compared to playing the banjo, which really makes a lot of the brain active.

Just checke out your blog site. Your page on Dr. Resnick's info confirmed what I've observed and believed for many years. I always called it 'autopilot', and all good musicians have it.

In my own playing, I've learned that once you have a tune fully learned, it never goes away, but can get rusty as hell if your don't haul them out once in a while.

Greg Connor Says:
Tuesday, February 5, 2008 @3:23:01 PM

What a great idea to measure the time spent on both Banjo and TV.  The banjo has an advantage with all the reruns on right now. 

I also am spending time with my banjo.  I bought Pete Wernicks "Banjo Backup" tape as part of my New Year's Resolution.  It's excellent, and my banjo is starting to sound interesting to me. 

Tomorrow night is the true test.  I'm going to play with a group of people, and for the first time, I am only bringing my banjo.  In the past, I have brought a guitar for safety.  "Why live if you can't live on the edge".   

Hang in there JR.  The banjo is already 10 hours ahead.  I'll bet it will be a good feeling a year from now to say:

"I didn't watch much TV, but watch me play this banjo".

jrjenks Says:
Tuesday, February 5, 2008 @5:02:34 PM

Thanks, all, for the kind words and encouragement.

Mike told me that I was on a sad, sad course that he's seen other would-be-banjo-players take.  I was trying to teach myself a bluegrass song, slowly and note-by-note.  I had intended to get it right and then to increase the speed.

Mike said I first needed to get my basic rolls down.  He yanked me away from the advanced book and had me concentrate on the forward roll.

I'm so happy I listened.

jrjenks Says:
Tuesday, February 5, 2008 @5:11:07 PM

Greg, good luck on your guitar-free session!

And, yes, I'm looking forward to a year from now.  I wrote a little ditty to the tune of "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" (aka "The Theme to the Beverly Hillbillies") that pretty well sums it up:

I wanna play the banjo
But I started late
So I made a resolution
For the year 2008.

It's banjo versus TV
And so far I'm doing fine
But the real test is how I sound
In the year 2009.

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