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May 20, 2019 - 11:25:19 AM
10465 posts since 2/12/2011

Seems like sometimes after a few days layoff I pick a bit cleaner. Is there anything to this or am I just imagining?

May 20, 2019 - 11:33:50 AM



191 posts since 4/1/2009

My wife got sick an I had concerns that I would have to start over but to my surprise my right hand felt better when I could get back to the banjo. It may have been a good thing to lay off a while.

May 20, 2019 - 11:46 AM

9777 posts since 6/2/2008

I experience this, too. I don’t know if there’s something to it or if it’s in my imagination.

Also, sometimes when I’m practicing I can’t stand the way I sound. Those times it’s best that I stop.

May 20, 2019 - 11:52:17 AM
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71 posts since 3/11/2018

If you really love it the playing is always on your mind especially subconsciously. Sometimes after a short break things seem to just come to you. I took years off which I wish I hadn’t but that is just life. Playing at this point is finally coming much easier for me.

May 20, 2019 - 11:56:16 AM
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40570 posts since 10/5/2013
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I think everything needs a rest to percolate down into the subconscious.

May 20, 2019 - 1:26:40 PM

204 posts since 3/28/2006

James McKinney, who practices many hours per day, once told me he takes off 1 day per week.

May 20, 2019 - 2:04:27 PM
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Brian T


15446 posts since 6/5/2008

Yes. It's quite real. Your subconcious is at work, re-arranging your recent experiences.
You get your "hard drive" defragged. You're born with it.

May 20, 2019 - 2:09:35 PM



40570 posts since 10/5/2013
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Hmmm.... “hard drive defragged” ..... I like it

May 20, 2019 - 3:07:53 PM

3107 posts since 7/12/2006

Lay off is good as long as you come back to it with a vengeance!

May 20, 2019 - 3:37:47 PM

10465 posts since 2/12/2011

I like the vengeance part!! Thanks.

May 20, 2019 - 4:33:35 PM

636 posts since 9/28/2006

kmwaters, I doubt you are imagining things. When learning a complex skill, such as three-finger picking, "spaced practice" is vital. This means one practices X amount of time, then takes time off from practicing in order to allow "reactive inhibition" to dissipate. For example, you are likely to benefit more from practicing for two thirty minute periods per day than if you practiced for one hour straight each day. (Those numbers of thirty minutes and one hour are just examples. Some people may be able to benefit quite well from two one hour periods of practice per day, while others may need two thirty minute practice period that are separated by four or five hours.)

May 21, 2019 - 10:24:21 AM

1944 posts since 4/5/2006

What seemed to work best for me was two or more hours of daily practice. My "lay off" time was when I wasn't practicing. Work, honey do's, whatever, and always thinking about it. smiley It always took me a half hour or so to loosen up, not only the hands but the mind. Everyday life seems to always be throwing obstacles in your way. If you are unable to brush aside those obstacles, they will inhibit your progress.

I have put the banjo down numerous times for extended periods (years) while diverting my attention to other pursuits. The recovery time being proportional to the down time. Each time though, a little something new has been discovered in the attempted recovery. Although after the 15 year layoff, I doubt recovery will come anywhere close to 100% this time.    

May 21, 2019 - 10:33:59 AM

1107 posts since 2/10/2013

I think layoffs can restore enthusiasm. A few days ago I messed up the pinkie on my noting hand playing fiddle. I did not play any instrument for two days. But I did swim laps and fingers were slowly flexing while I swam. The layoff and swimming did the trick. Playing was also more fun.

I was once told to refrain from exercising one day a week, and to exercise harder the day before I took a break.

May 23, 2019 - 10:19:34 AM

1768 posts since 5/2/2012

About this time last year I split the tip of my ring finger of my fretting hand and didn't play banjo for like 3 months. In the meantime I bought a real cheap resonator guitar. So I got to work a lot on my picking hand skills, learned a bit more about music theory, and just enjoyed learning a little about a new instrument and picking up some knowledge. I still try to bring the reso out once or twice a week. After that break I was pleasantly surprised how quickly things came back on the banjo. Don't think the break elevated my picking skills, because I was still picking on the dobro. It did help me appreciate how much I enjoy playing the banjo.

May 23, 2019 - 1:44:04 PM



71 posts since 3/11/2018

I think there are two types of layoffs. One where you just don’t play for an extended time and another where you give what you are currently working on a rest.

What needs a rest? Well when you are working on new songs or licks you can’t always master them in one sitting. I say practice until you feel like you have gotten as far with it as you can in one session. Then play what you know and enjoy for a while in the same session. Sometimes my sessions are 4 hours. I just didn’t work on the same piece for that long. When I come back I limber up picking for a few minutes then tackle what I was previously working on. I have yet to come back at it and not make significant progress. If I wait too long I may have to start over but not completely from scratch.

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