quote:I was always told to practice playin as loud as you can.You don't always have to play a banjo fast and furious.Sometimes I think it doesn't sound as good to play fast!!And try and play out in front of people often.Play at a pace thats comfortable to you.Just because you hear a tune thats fast,doesn't mean You have to play it that way..You'll get the hang of it..Just take Your time..
Originally posted by peghead59
I seem to be tensioning up a bit when I am trying to play at a faster rate or even if I'm trying to play a new tune accurately. The tension is in both hands and my left forearm. This sometimes results in getting the shakes.
What practice tips have you got to get me out of this.
Better players have suggested to me to slow back down to the pace at which you can play tension free and with correct mechanics - no matter how slow that happens to be. It will get faster by itself as the muscle memory kicks in. But as I have learned, practicing at the faster rate and mechanically incorrect will only result in reinforcing the wrong things and even allowing those wrong things to become part of your muscle memory. I have worked hard at "unlearning" because I went too fast too soon and got really sloppy in terms of mechanics. This approach feels like it is working for me. I have eliminated my desire to get fast so soon. Sort of like trying to change a 20 year old golf swing. Better to learn correctly and slowly before the speed gets introduced to the equation. I also like the suggestion of laying your right hand flat on the strings, feel your hand relax, and then start to play with that same amount of relaxation in the hand. Seems impossible at first, and actually may never get identical, but it brings you closer to the tension free action you are looking for. I hope this helps out at least a little.
Here is a link to an interesting chapter on right hand technique from Paul Hawthorne's work:
The entire website is well done and has lots of info on a variety of banjo related topics, but this particular link takes you to the subject of this forum.
After starting this topic i couldn't believe how many people suffer from tense muscles. Obviously a big problem out there. After months of practicing and taking on alot of the advice here, I'm finding that I am now able to relax my hand very quickly. I do still tense up, but when I realise I'm doing it I can get it under control now. I can say that a lot of it does come from confidence and not thinking too far ahead within a tune. If I have a tough bit to get through, I will play it over and over and over until I get it right. Drives the girlfriend senseless, but it's doing me good.
Thanks for all the comments and advice guys, and to those who are suffering, keep at it. It really does get easier.
Girlfriend may want you to use mute - check out Mike's mute if you don't have one. I got one not long ago and really like it. It could keep war at bay.
Thanks KM. I have a really good mute that Joemac gave me, but there are just times when you want to hear that banjo ring. Normally when she's watching another soap opera!
agreed - we buy banjos to hear them un-muted but that mute saves lives!!
Haha......Yeh, I know what you're saying.
I do find though that when I play without the mute, any tension in my hand disappears as I'm trying to play softer. I guess I'm just trying to play too loud when it is muted.
Think about what you just said. Why would you want to play louder after putting a device on the banjo that is designed to reduce the volume?? Has to be a subconscious thing but that can be overcome with a conscious effort to just pick without thinking about how loud or soft it is. Just let the mute do it's job, right? This is bound to go away in a little time. The good part is you are playing and thinking about what you are doing and what is going on. That can only make you better as time goes by. Stay well.
Yep! That's what I was saying. It just ocurred to me that I was doing it. I think you just helped me with a problem that I didn't know I had. Thanks.
we all do it from time to time on some aspect of playing I believe - ride safe - i see a bike!
I just started playing banjo Aug 1st, and I have cripple creek down but now trying to work on my speed, I'm pretty relaxed when practicing my hands don't ache but my middle finger on my left hand is killing me. I play as long as I can until I can't bare it anymore then I call it a day. Other then that I noticed my left shoulder from holding my arm up gets a little fatigued at times.
I have had upper bicep pain from staying in one position holding the neck way too long. Now I won't go for more than 15-20 minutes and I will get up, move around, and even do a few windmill type movements with my left arm to just keep the muscles limber. Seems to be helping but still not back to where I was before I became a banjoholic. As for the finger, I think it's probably the same thing. Just can't go too long at first until the body gets accustomed to the new positions and movements.
That's it, my body has to get used to doing this. Once my fingers get used to playing and my arm strengthens nothing is going to stop me. I have this issue when I practice, I tune everyone and everything out, my wife could be talking to me for a half hour and I won't hear a single word. I've paid the consequences of that let me tell yea.
I am sure you cannot claim to be first nor last with that issue!! That's why we have the subculture of banjoholics. As I recently heard one say, "just play a few songs by Earl in the morning............". Good luck and happy pickin'. Lots of help on BHO, but the nature of music is that it's very opinionated in certain areas so you will hear the "do what works" thing alot. Example - I have a mechanical flaw in that I tend to fold my thumb in when things get fast. Then it is not in position for the next note. I mentioned this in a workshop once, and the instructor said "let it go wherever it wants". Not sure he knew what I meant, since the the thumb can't play the next note after getting in trouble. Anyhow, that's why I look at the videos of the really good pickers and take note of how they do things. More often than not we will play well if we adopt their good mechanics. They vary somewhat, but there are certain things that are universal to all of them. And so much easier to get started the right way rather than having to unlearn wrong things. So go slow and stay correct. Speed will come but don't get too anxious or you will lose the correctness that you are working on.
Linking the tension in the hand to tension in the head is a good point that many have made in this thread, so the only thing I'll say about that is that there's a good book out there called "Effortless Mastery" that addresses that.
Less has been said about how tension in the hand is related to the rest of the body. When your hand is tense, it's not tense in isolation, it goes up your arms, through your back, and down into your feet. I recommend finding a good tai chi teacher who can teach you how to stand. You don't need to spend a lot of time on lessons and learning moves, but if you can really learn how to stand with your feet grounded, your entire body will relax and move more efficiently. The first time you feel it, you know it, and from then on you'll always know what to strive for. I don't spend enough time on this, but when I'm having trouble with my hands, I focus on my feet, and it helps.
""Here is a link to an interesting chapter on right hand technique from Paul Hawthorne's work:
I dont know but it sounds like a bunch of hog wash to me. there a lot of exceptions to anchors and tension. the arm rest will play into the equasion. its important to keep the anchor and to be able to turn off and on on the amount of tensin you use to pull out the notes as your picks engage the strings as squarely as possible. on another note I have had surgery on both hands for carpal tunnel, my right hand the worse of the two. It actually helps my hand to play with some tension. After the surgury I had several types of exersises to do and none of it helped very much. Now that I started playing again from the start I got dextarity back in my fingers.
yes i think the tension comes from over analyzing yourself and playing if u are tired,, playing after a good nights sleep really helps
and accept the fact you will "mess up" bu thaaat is a part of learning
So relax, dont overloasd yourself, and play like u dont give a dam while u are practicing
One thing really nice about this thread is that after reading it in full I won't have to go to church for several weeks... Muscle tension is quite another problem.
I raised the arm rest on my banjo to keep from palm rest on the head above the fifth string. is this a good idea?
quote:When you are practicing speed, don't worry about accuracy, just go for it. Acuracy will come later, this will help with your tension.
Originally posted by Old git
Dave, Your a pal. I can do the exercices as you say, but there is no way it will come together when I play. I have behaved and not rushed whilst practicing and as I said I have followed to the word what the tutors say. Ive done everything the way they say. Once again not trying to run before I can walk. But, Dave I'm stuck. I cannot move on, and its hurting. Please talk to me as you would a child and start me off on the right track. I have played slow an have got all the bits into place. but can't move on. I and many other people would listen to your advice
Thank you for sharing.
A lot of interesting tips/advice in this thread, thanks folks. After reading through numerous post, it began to remind me of something Ross Nickerson described in his Banjo Encyclopedia. He said, 'Play as hard as you can without going beyond your instruments tonal ability, or when the banjo begins to not sound right anymore. If playing that loud is a problem, mute the banjo, not your picking hand.
This will certainly develope hand strength and accuracy, I would imagine. On the other hand, (pun intended), in certain instances, learning to relax takes purposeful direct tension exercises. This has already been described in many post as direct hand exercise suggestions.
I personally cannot attest to this concept, as I'm a mere beginner myself. However, it makes sense!
Different schools of thought like most things. Some say go for speed and the accuracy will come, and others say go for accuracy and the speed will come. I have tried both and for me it's accuracy first. I subscribe to the theory that proper mechanics are the foundation on which everything else is built. And too much speed early on tends to make me abandon the mechanics that are correct. Once I learn a new song and play it slowly with good mechanics then I find myself just instinctively being able to increase speed and keep it clean. And the tension disappears at the same time.
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