Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

1482
Banjo Lovers Online


Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Aug 22, 2019 - 11:47:56 AM
7 posts since 7/20/2019

Apologies if this is a silly question. Banjo is the first instrument I’ve ever tried to learn, so I have zero prior musical skill.

I am slowly getting the hang of strumming, but my lack of rythm is proving challenging. I can usually do fine very slow, but my natural inclination is to speed up, maybe because I’m trying to anticipate the next move.

I feel like a metronome would help, but given my zero musical knowledge, I’m not sure where it should be set. 4/4 sounds sorta right but not really. Wondering if anyone has any advice in this realm. It’s challenging trying to switch strings or even attempt using my left hand as I almost immediately start tripping over myself and messing up.

Thanks guys, I’m still having a blast even if I sound like a skipping cd sometimes haha

Aug 22, 2019 - 12:13:23 PM

1449 posts since 6/2/2010

Google free metronome - you will find lots of them.

Just start using one and play along with it. Once you can play comfortably at whatever speed you start at - increase a little bit each day until you are fine at the new speed - repeat ......

Aug 22, 2019 - 12:15:34 PM

raybob

USA

13376 posts since 12/11/2003

Spend some time learning the tune/s you want to learn. Listen to them lots and get the melody in your head, then try to play it (using tab or not). When you have it somewhat together you could try playing along with a metronome slowly. If you introduce the metronome too soon you'll be struggling to keep up and the structure of the tune may fall apart.

4/4 is a common time signature, meaning '4 beats to the measure and the quarter note gets 1 beat'. This is a common time signature, easy to tap your foot to. Another common time signature is 3/4, or waltz time. The tunes written in 3/4 time will have 3 beats to the measure and the quarter note still gets 1 beat. There are many time signatures in music. Jazz and classical branch off and use different times for expression. For instance: the Dave Brubeck standard "Take Five" is written in 5/4 time with there being 5 beats to the measure and the quarter note getting the beat.

The other use of a metronome is to keep track of the speed that one is playing the tune. Old time dance music is typically played around 120bpm (beats per minute). You might want to start out at a slower speed until you have the tunes you like under your fingers better. Try around 60bpm. At first you should used the metronome to keep a regular pace and help you with the timing of the tune and not be worried about how fast you're playing. Speed will come later. If you try to go too fast at first you'll wind up building mistakes into your muscle memory and you may have to start over with a tune because you really didn't learn it the first time. Good luck!

Aug 22, 2019 - 1:11:56 PM

1884 posts since 5/2/2012

I played clawhammer for a short while when I started playing the banjo, and I can relate to the problem with switching strings. At this point (one month in) I probably wouldn't worry about 4/4, 3/4, or 2/2 time, but rather BPM, to get steady timing going. As I recall, I started switching from string 1 to 2 and back (121212 or maybe mix it up after a bit and do 11211221212 for example, just to get an idea of how much "space" I needed to move to get from one string to another. Open strings. Then I added the 3rd string, then the 4 into the mix over time. Pretty mindless stuff, so you could do this watching TV or something. The idea is to do enough repititions so that it comes almost automatic and less and less of your brain power is devoted to thinking about what that picking hand is doing. I probably did this for a good portion of my practice time for the first month or so. As Ray said, speed isn't an issue here, but rather accurate strikes on the strings and in good time. When that is ingrained, start adding some simple chords, like the partial C on strings 1 and 2, or the partial D on strings 2 and 3, must to vary the sound. I have a decent innate sense of timing (but not much of an ear, unfortunately), so the timing wasn't so much of an issue for me, but rather moving from from string to string more or less automatically. Now, for those who are more musically gifted than me (it doesn't take much), this may be a bit hum-drum, but it worked for me.

Aug 22, 2019 - 1:37:46 PM

28 posts since 10/17/2017

Don't worry about the time signature in the beginning. You just need a steady click. There are a ton of free metronome phone apps. I use a free one called "Pro Metronome". (play.google.com/store/apps/det...&hl=en_US). I just make sure none of the beats are accented. Another "trick" I found helpful when I started is to "make the clicks disappear". If you nail the timing on the banjo, you'll notice the clicks going away (aurally).

Aug 22, 2019 - 2:40:18 PM

mjt0229

USA

292 posts since 4/20/2015

I have been using a metronome for a long time; one of my favorite tricks is to start out with the metronome clicking for the subdivisions - like once for the "bum" and once for the "dit" of "bum-dit-ty"; once those are steady, halve the metronome speed so it only clicks for the "bum".

Clicking for those subdivided beats gives you accuracy and helps you weed out problems with your technique. Clicking for the less frequent beats gives you freedom to move a bit within the beat for musicality. You need to be steady, but you shouldn't be robotic either.

The other bit of advice I have is newer to me - I've been using the website "strum machine" (it's been discussed here before, google it or search BHO). I really like Strum Machine for practicing playing along with accompanying players. You get a guitar strumming the chords for whatever tune you're working on (they have a library, or you can enter your own). It helps you hear your way through a tune, and it requires you to try to get back into the tune if you skip a beat or a note. It's good practice for finding your way if you get lost and it helps you hear how your banjo line fits into the harmonic progression of the music.

Edited by - mjt0229 on 08/22/2019 14:41:54

Aug 22, 2019 - 3:23:51 PM

2427 posts since 4/19/2008

Some people have a sense of rhythm, some not so much. If they don't, it could take years of effort to develop that internal clock. This is why i always say the following:

The metronome is a couple hundred years old technology which puts out a sound but does not listen to your input. For this reason I personally recommend this app because it has sound and or light pulses and listens to you and as a bonus teaches you how to read rhythm notation. The app gives you a visual report of how close you come to being before, on or after the beat. It's like having a teacher with the patience of Job sitting right there with you.

apps.apple.com/kw/app/rhythm-s...396302174

$2.99

Edited by - mmuussiiccaall on 08/22/2019 15:28:39

Aug 22, 2019 - 11:34:38 PM

AndyW

UK

447 posts since 7/4/2017

A metronome is very helpful to slow you down in a tune you are just learning.

Set it to the highest speed where you can play the whole tune numerous times perfectly (probably a fair bit lower than you will be expecting to set it). Basically it stops you speeding up on the easy bits and keeps you to your best speed on the difficult bits.

You'll be able to adjust the speed upwards as you get to know the tune better, but as a beginner you will likely max out way before 'normal' playing speed. Don't worry about that as your overall technique will improve over time and your overall maximum speed level will improve.

Aug 23, 2019 - 6:59:05 AM

115 posts since 10/9/2017

quote:
Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

Some people have a sense of rhythm, some not so much. If they don't, it could take years of effort to develop that internal clock. This is why i always say the following:

The metronome is a couple hundred years old technology which puts out a sound but does not listen to your input. For this reason I personally recommend this app because it has sound and or light pulses and listens to you and as a bonus teaches you how to read rhythm notation. The app gives you a visual report of how close you come to being before, on or after the beat. It's like having a teacher with the patience of Job sitting right there with you.

apps.apple.com/kw/app/rhythm-s...396302174

$2.99


It looks very interesting, but seems to be based on screen tapping. How does it work with a banjo? Or am I missing the point?

Aug 23, 2019 - 7:22:18 AM

2 posts since 5/14/2019

I’m about a year into banjo, so pretty mucha beginner myself. I remember how hard it was to just be able to hit the first string so I can empathize with where you are. A couple of thoughts on things that have helped me.

I find using a metronome extremely helpful and basically use it all the time at this point on my learning curve to pound rock solid rhythm into my head and hands. Aside from the standard use - synchronizing the click to the downbeat, I do a two other exercises every practice session. One is synchrony the thumb pop with the beat. I got that idea from Tom collins’ banjo blitz on YouTube. Tom calls it “flipping the click”. Another exercise is doubling the speed to make sure that both the dit and the tee are in time. I’ve found that there is a sweet spot for practice speed that is different for each pattern I’m playing. Too fast and you’re ingraining mistakes, because you’re not yet competent in the skill. Too slow and you fumble, thinking about your movements rather than doing them. (Incidentally you can see even professional players do this on training videos. Missing strings bc they are using a super slow tempo). Holding at a speed for prolonged periods just below where you are about to fail is the sweet spot for me and then as was mentioned, ramping up that speed as i improve.

For a new pattern or skill, I may start off at 85 bpm. Then pretty quickly ramp up to around 100. 100-125 bpm seems to be the range for skills in progress but not yet mastered. And the for patterns I’ve got down I will try to push the speed on them - usually from about 130 to 160 bpm. I realize this is still slow and I’m still struggling with speed above this level but working on it. I’m constantly adjusting my metronome up and down depending upon where I am in the practice session and what drill I’m working on.

One other thought for you that may help. People may say I’m totally wrong in my approach. But I don’t worry about learning songs at this point. I found pretty early that playing skip to my Lou, terribly, at 60 bpm was not very satisfying or encouraging to me... So My goal over the last six months or so has been to try to learn technical proficiency and fluidity in all the core skills and any possible combinations of skills and patterns I come across. If you practice a slide-ditty-pull-off-ditty a couple hundred times and mess up a few times along the way, it’s not as demoralizing as messing up skip-to-my-Lou. I’m confident that developing that solid foundation of skills will help me in the long run and ultimately make learning a repertoire of songs less frustrating. And I find repetitive practicing and mastering musical phrases very zen like and rewarding.

Not to say that I’m not practicing music. For instance, josh at brainjo has a cool arrangement for cripple creek where he uses a slide, drop thumb and m-skip in the first measure. I might work on that phrase for a couple days and then say “how does it sound if I tweak this?” That’s the type of pattern I can really zone into and I think it helps to both master core techniques as well as being able to combine them at will. So in short, I am practicing musical phrases, I’m just not fussed up at this point of having to learn entire songs. I fit the musical phrase to the skill I happen to be trying to master.

Aug 23, 2019 - 8:18:07 AM

2427 posts since 4/19/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Remsleep

It looks very interesting, but seems to be based on screen tapping. How does it work with a banjo? Or am I missing the point?


Good question, it also has a listening mode.

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.21875