Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Playing & Practicing - How Does A Person Get It All In

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Sep 14, 2018 - 8:28:28 AM
1469 posts since 2/10/2013

A person strives to -

Learn new tunes
Learn new licks
Learn new techniques
Get tunes up-to-speed
Play tunes in my active tune repertoire. I don't have anyone to play with and I am probably playing way too many tunes. Trying to be ready for anything.

I have problems getting all that in every day. I also play fiddle and that requires time. Before someone suggests it, I will NOT stop playing fiddle. i would appreciate reading some members solution to this problem, and their opinions on frequency, amount of time, number of times something is played, etc..

Do you manage these things to your satisfaction ? I am trying various solutions, but haven't solved the problem.

Sep 14, 2018 - 10:04:38 AM
Players Union Member



1051 posts since 11/3/2016

budget your time

Sep 14, 2018 - 11:27:01 AM
Players Union Member

Neil Allen


812 posts since 6/15/2014

I ran into this problem a while back. I'd built up a repertoire of about 20 tunes I could play not too badly in clawhammer, but, because I wanted to keep them all up to a reasonable standard, it took so much of my practice time (and I got sick of hearing myself play some of them) that I was not having time to learn anything new and I began to realise I was in a bit of a dead end and began to lose motivation. After six months or so experimenting with two-finger and three-finger styles, I started working on Keith style (3 fingers with picks) melodic solos, but began to realise I was going down exactly the same route that was going to lead to the same dead end for the same reason.

So, for now, I'm paying less attention to the instrumentals and solos and just concentrating on learning solid Scruggs backup and I've come to realise it's much more in-depth skill set than just playing solos. I want to be able to pick up the chord progression to songs I don't really know and be able to make a good contribution in a jam situation, so that's what I'm working on.

In other words, I'm hoping that what I'm learning will have a wider range of application than my previous repertoire of solos and so can be kept up to date with practice in a reasonable period of time each day. I am sure this approach is equally applicable to any of the main playing styles.

Edited by - Neil Allen on 09/14/2018 11:28:51

Sep 14, 2018 - 12:06:06 PM
like this



8149 posts since 10/5/2006

The effortless and pleasurable way to keep your tunes sharp is to regularly attend sessions and play them.

Why make work out of what is natural and fun? if you also view sessions as a space to learn in time you can also pick up all those other aspects that you mention.

And there is another approach to 'practice' that never fails to puzzle me; why expend time and energy in the futile attempt to bottle and store creek water when you can have the option to simply draw direct from the creek whenever you are thirsty? If you learn to pick up tunes on the fly - at sessions - you become completely self-sustaining and unrestricted as a musician. You can dispense with the endless cycle of learning and forgetting tunes by rote in favour of the infinitely more useful and liberating ability to play any tune that you hear as you hear it.

We are all relatively time poor. So to accomplish what appear initially as a complex, multiple set of tasks and still have fun requires that we need to prioritise and use our time and direction to best effect in relation to our aim - aka strategy. Often, particularly with music, that best effect evolves, not from what we diligently do alone, but from the slingshot effect of regular and continual engagement with others.

Edited by - m06 on 09/14/2018 12:18:31

Sep 14, 2018 - 1:07:23 PM
like this



7340 posts since 8/20/2016

Buy a robot that looks just like you and send it to work for you and let it do all your chores as well. Then you will have all the time you need...while your at it, Du kannst auch Deutsch lernen!

Sep 14, 2018 - 2:11:27 PM

596 posts since 10/16/2014

I feel like you're putting too much pressure on yourself, especially since you're not playing with others. And bluegrass banjo--you're not talking about clawhammer, right--is one of those types of music that really works best in an ensemble.

I don't know what "tunes" you're learning, but what I play most on the banjo--90% backup and 10% breaks to vocal songs--I don't practice all that much. I felt like I practiced a lot the first year or so but now I only practice if I have a gig or something like that. Now I just play, and sometimes I don't play the banjo for weeks at a time.

Sep 15, 2018 - 4:51:39 AM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)


23640 posts since 8/3/2003

If you have a family and work, it can be very difficult to find enough time to practice as much as you want. In a case like that, you do have to budget your time (as Bob said above) and stay pretty much on a schedule. If you have an hour a day, break it up into segments, as many as you need to do what you want to do. For instance, 10 minutes to warm up, 10 minutes to work on backup, 10 minutes to work on tunes you know, 20 minutes to work on something new and 10 minutes to just noodle and have fun.

If you're not able to find a jam or feel you're not ready for one, may I suggest some software like Band in a Box? You can input chores to any song, play in any key and at any tempo. It's kind of like having your own jam session where you are the star and can play a song as many times as you want for as long as you want. It helps with timing and you can work on techniques and tone, too.

Sep 15, 2018 - 9:40:57 AM

1469 posts since 2/10/2013

I have lots of music related software including BIAB. In some ways it is not as much fun as playing with others, but in some ways it is better. BIAB plays whenever I am ready, never makes a mistake, never gets tired, and doesn't make "smart" remarks. Seriously, BIAB has filled a big hole in music environment.

Sep 15, 2018 - 10:22:24 AM
likes this

70732 posts since 5/9/2007

Find someone to pick with rather than a planned practice regimen that doesn't include that.

Sep 15, 2018 - 11:45:16 AM
likes this

972 posts since 8/7/2017
Online Now

1. Trying to "fit it all" in an hour session will not work for me, and possibly does not work (well) for anybody - My own experience, and Josh Turknett's writing on effective practice techniques, suggest that 20 min sessions are more productive than 60 min sessions. It's easier for me to find 3, 20 min sessions in a day, than one 60min block. The value of short sessions is not only in that they are more effective, but also that they are easier to find. On that subject, keeping your instrument out and available, if you can, so you can grab it for 5 minutes, is a good idea, and is worthwhile use of your time.

2. Listening to songs is just as important as playing them. If you can't sing/whistle/hum the song, you will have difficulty playing it. So, part of your practice time is simply listening, which can be done while "doing" something else. Once you learn the song to sing/etc., you can then go back and listen intensely to the parts where you don't understand the fingering.

3. The more songs you learn by ear, as opposed to learning by tab, the more easily you can pick up a song. Making the ear-to-fingers connections (hear a note or phrase and know how to play it) will make learning new songs come faster (taking up less of your practice time).

4. Some skills come with time, you can only short-cut them so far. So, adjust your expectations of yourself to avoid disappointment due to unrealistic expectations. If you set unrealistic goals for yourself, banjo burnout will be more likely. The Zen idea of "drop expectations" really works...enjoy the moment, forget the goal.

These ideas have helped me, hope they help you.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories