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Oct 23, 2016 - 3:11:17 AM

29 posts since 10/20/2016

I know this is a fairly old post but i found it so interesting that i can see why it was made into a Sticky. I think learning anything is about attitude well more mental attitude. If you try anything in like with the wrong mental attitude 9 out of 10 times you will fail no matter how many times you try, which then leads to stress which then leads to a host of other problems such as cramping, spasms etc. If you are struggling with something i think its alway better to step away and look at the problem from another angle, then go back to it when you feel calmer and have that positive mental attitude.
Tim

Nov 6, 2016 - 1:34:17 PM

7 posts since 10/27/2016

Hi everyone,I've got proplems with getting very sloppy when I practice to long. Does anyone else have the same problems,or is it just me?

Nov 6, 2016 - 4:55:38 PM

496 posts since 5/31/2004

Pretty obvious....your body is telling you it's time to take a break. Fatigued practice is not very productive. Use your time more wisely, practice 30 minutes twice a day or 20 minutes three times a day instead of an hour all at once. Let me guess...you go two or three days or more without touching your banjo, then try to practice for two or three hours straight? 

Nov 6, 2016 - 5:08:40 PM

7 posts since 10/27/2016

Np,I actually try to practice a couple hours aday,but break it into 2 practice sessions,One in the morning and then in the evening.

Nov 7, 2016 - 5:41:52 AM

496 posts since 5/31/2004

hmmm. Well anyway, listen to your body and try to  play more sessions per day but shorter...or if this is all your schedule allows, force yourself to take five or ten minute breaks every twenty minutes... get up, walk around...

Nov 7, 2016 - 5:44:28 AM

496 posts since 5/31/2004

by the way you're fairly close by. Come to my Full Moon Jam this Saturday. See my Facebook page in a couple of  days for directions. You know fiddle maker Gene Horner in Westel? I play a fiddle and mandolin he made

Nov 7, 2016 - 6:05:05 AM

7 posts since 10/27/2016

Thank you for the invite,but I will be out of state visiting my Grand Daughter, Perhaps another time. Thank you for the advise,I will try it.
Have a great day my friend.

Nov 7, 2016 - 8:05:43 AM

7 posts since 10/27/2016

Jack, I do have a question to ask you, My new Gibson Epiphone MB 250 has a great sound for a less expensive Banjo and came with a bridge with Gibson stamped on it.I've never seen or even heard of a Gibson bridge. Have I just not looked in the right places for one? Are you familiar with this bridge?

Nov 7, 2016 - 10:27:30 AM

7 posts since 10/27/2016

I have made a mistake,forgive me. My old eyes don't work as well as they used to. The bridge is a reproduction of the 1930's,1940's bridges. Aged hard maple,ebony. I compared it with the snuffy Smith bridge and actually like it better.I found it on the Cumberland Acoustics website. But thanks anyway.

Nov 7, 2016 - 9:15:43 PM

496 posts since 5/31/2004

Gibson used used Snuffy Smith bridges for a while in the 90's, but only on their higher quality banjos...not Epiphones which are imports. They may have had Snuffy stamp Gibson on them...or First Quality who supplied a lot of their components may have made the one you have. Just because it's on your Eppi now does not mean the banjo came from the factory with that bridge. If it did you are LONG overdue a bridge change!

Nov 8, 2016 - 7:00:48 AM

1605 posts since 2/10/2013

The thing that helped me most was not overextending my efforts. Using "The Amazing Slow Downer" lets me "loop" tunes/exercises, and increase the tempo by a designated percentage each time a new loop starts. So I start out at a slow manageable speed and increase the tempo by a small percentage. When I reach the point where "my wheels come off", I stop playing that tune/exercise. Over time (i.e. days/weeks/months) my speed increases with sacrificing anything. I can play the material comfortably, and improve my ability to play at faster tempos. And just as importantly, good musical qualities are maintained.

Developing speed takes time. But each tune you learn using this method improves your overall ability to play well at faster speeds. When I played regularly, I used to get tunes up to "turbo" speeds, but normally played them at familiar speeds. The 'extra" speed was in reserve. If I can play a tune well at very fast speeds, I can relax and more easily play a tune at a slower speed.

So basically, you just "stretch" your ability little by little.

Dec 30, 2016 - 2:56:30 PM

1 posts since 12/30/2016

Is it absolutely essential to keep my ring finger and pinky on the banjo head when playing rolls? I'm fairly new to learning to play the banjo in the Scrugg's style. I find that my hand cramps up when I try to keep both fingers pressed into the head. When I just make contact with my pinky, it feels much more comfortable. Just starting out, I want to practice good habits. I notice that Earl kept both fingers down, but Dave Hum didn't. I'd like to get some thoughts on this. Thanks!

Dec 30, 2016 - 4:32:17 PM

14606 posts since 12/2/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Drum on a Stick
 

Is it absolutely essential to keep my ring finger and pinky on the banjo head when playing rolls? I'm fairly new to learning to play the banjo in the Scrugg's style. I find that my hand cramps up when I try to keep both fingers pressed into the head. When I just make contact with my pinky, it feels much more comfortable. Just starting out, I want to practice good habits. I notice that Earl kept both fingers down, but Dave Hum didn't. I'd like to get some thoughts on this. Thanks!


No, it is not. Search on "finger plants" or "planting" using the search function and you'll find myriad threads on this subject.

The simple fact is that there's lots of dogma in banjo world, and the planting of fingers is one of the dogmatic items. It stems from the fact that Earl Scruggs planted two, and advised that it gave him the greatest stability. But even Earl said that if you find this hard to do, it's okay to plant only your ring or your pinky. And there are many top pros who do just that. There are some very fine players whose hands float.

You will probably receive suggestions from a number of people who have tried all manner of wildassed techniques to get to a two-finger plant - and some of them have been successful. Good for them. It is NOT NECESSARY.

Edited by - eagleisland on 12/30/2016 16:34:30

Feb 28, 2017 - 9:07:09 PM

3 posts since 2/28/2017

The biggest problem is that they focus primarily on having the student try to memorize note-for-note banjo solos, usually instrumentals.

Mar 2, 2017 - 1:31:58 PM

4 posts since 12/1/2010

Good answers here!!

I would say try to be conscious of how hard you are gripping your banjo with your left hand, and how hard you are pressing the strings and pressing into the banjo from the backside. With proper form, it's amazing how much lighter you can press and still get a clean, crisp sound.

I suffered from some serious wrist tension from playing guitar with bad form, and had to make a lot of adjustments. A lot of those same principles apply to banjo.

Make sure your wrist isn't bending either way in an uncomfortable way and that your arm is bent at an angle of 90 degrees or less.

I have my students exercise proper chord placement by placing their fingers where they need to go first to play the chord and then "filling in" by placing the hand or thumb where it needs to go after the fingers are in place.

Some chords require a bit more muscle action. One thing I read awhile back when on a quest for proper form was to relax the muscles whenever you can within the context of the song. For example, if you're lifting weights, the longer you have to hold the weight, the more tired your muscles will be.

The same thing goes for playing. If you are holding a position that is using your muscles, try to do it for the shortest amount of time possible and then relax and allow your muscles to regenerate their strength.

Really, the #1 thing is to just to listen to your body. Is the position that I'm in putting stress on any part of my fingers, hand, or wrist? If it is, there is probably a less tense way to play it. Breathe, relax, and adjust as needed.

Apr 13, 2017 - 7:52:24 AM

162 posts since 9/14/2015

I have the same issue myself but only when I am recording or playing for others. But when i am just playing by myself or jamming with my daughter or friends i play with out any issues. It has to be a mental thing. Now i have a fix but it may or may not work for you. To be honest I smoke a joint, before anybody freaks out I have a prescription and its all on the up and up (i have a spinal cord injury as well). After that i am totally relaxed and ready to play :) if its not an option for you and its a persistent issue  next time you go to the doc tell him about it and maybe try some anti anxiety medicine. I bet it would fix you right up. You can also do some sort of ritual to help you relax before you play. If you notice it starting i would stop playing for a few min shake out my arms and upper body, maybe take a few deep breaths and then try again. One would think as your confidence grows this should lessen at least I hope it will.
 

Edited by - boredinyak on 04/13/2017 07:56:48

Apr 13, 2017 - 5:51:49 PM
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19 posts since 7/15/2010

I have no problem with anyone taking a hit of weed for any reason, especially if it helps with anxiety. But I will relay a warning from personal experience about becoming mentally addicted to any substance. I used to have performance anxiety which I could control fairly well, but I knew that there was still some nervousness on stage that affected my performance. Then I discovered Propanolol, or Inderal, which is a beta blocker used for hypertension (high blood pressure). It has also been proven to be very effective for anxiety and is commonly prescribed to professional musicians. This seemed to be a miracle, because I could be completely relaxed on stage with no adverse side effects. I felt absolutely normal but without the adrenalin rush. All was well until I was asked to perform impromptu and without my "crutch". I no longer had the ability to control my anxiety on my own and freaked out. I realized that although I took this drug very rarely and had not become physically addicted, I had become totally psychologically dependent on it in order to survive on stage.
If you suffer acutely from stage fright this drug may be a Godsend, but understand how this and other substances can affect your natural ability to cope.

Apr 19, 2017 - 6:57:12 PM

314 posts since 5/24/2016

Terry, I see by your profile that you are 100. It might be worth while to ask what else you are doing with your hands. I say this because I've recently started having all kinds of muscle cramps in my hands after doing heavy gardening or use of hand tools. It's taking days or rest and lots of ibuprophin to get them into playing shape again. Things like holding a paint brush and staining the deck are really becoming an inconvenience. And I'm only 65. 

Marc

Apr 19, 2017 - 7:28:03 PM

4 posts since 4/13/2014

One more suggestion that works well for me. After you memorize the song
using the metronome, increase the speed by one click. Once you start to feel yourself tense up, go back a click and get comfortable there. Also gives you lots of repetition, which helps! We'll all just keep at it!
Jul 20, 2017 - 1:35:44 PM
Players Union Member

Boadicea

Australia

146 posts since 6/28/2014

I am having problems with my right shoulder, after practising too much one day it got really sore, so I am trying to do less practice whilst it improves.

I think I am having a basic posture problem though. I tense up when I am practicing to try and go faster, which I will need to stop doing, otherwise I will just get more and more pain.

I kind of forget to breathe a bit as well when I am playing because I am focusing so hard on what my hands and fingers are doing.

This is a great thread. It is really helpful to read.

Thanks!

Jul 20, 2017 - 1:39:17 PM
Players Union Member

Boadicea

Australia

146 posts since 6/28/2014

So I have ice on my shoulder at the moment, which is not the best. I really want to be able to practice more. I am thinking the Alexander Technique again might be the way to go for me.

Jul 20, 2017 - 1:53:27 PM
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1605 posts since 2/10/2013

I have read that a problem is more quickly solved when a person focuses on ONE problem at a time. After the problem is under control, move on to the next problem.

Whenever possible, the human body tries to do things the most comfortable way. In some cases, we create the problem(s). Relaxation is extremely important in fiddling. In the FiddlerHangout there are frequent discussion of ergonomics/relaxation while playing an instrument.

There are exercises that help a person relax before playing an instrument.

Jul 28, 2017 - 11:15:25 PM
Players Union Member

Boadicea

Australia

146 posts since 6/28/2014

Thanks Richard,

I have eased up, and I am now trying to remember to breathe, not hold my breath when I am playing. I am doing more practising but for shorter time frames. Relaxing and ergonomics is certainly something I will need to focus on, that is for sure.

I am doing an 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course, and if I do yoga/mindful movement, before I do my Mindfulness practices, I certainly go to a deeper level. I was thinking that I could do some type of Mindful Movement before beginning practising.

I will have to go back to swimming and the Alexander Technique.

I am focussing on not becoming so stiff, so I am thinking of relaxing my arm or the muscles elongating whilst I am playing. I also saw that a young banjo player used to lie on her bed, because the banjo was too heavy for her. So I am thinking of lying on my bed so I don't stiffen up so much when practising.

Thanks for your reply,
Cheers,
Kate

Aug 5, 2017 - 7:37:50 PM
Players Union Member

Boadicea

Australia

146 posts since 6/28/2014


Hello Richard,

I eased off but then when I started again the pain started up again. So I am going to really have to do some solid work on this one. I don't want to be in pain, or stiff or sore, and I don't want to miss out on banjo practice either.

What would be the url of the FiddlerHangout where they are talking about ergonomics/relaxation whilst fiddling?

What are the exercises a person can use to relax before they start playing their instrument?
Cheers,
Kate

Edited by - Boadicea on 08/05/2017 19:39:14

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