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Jun 4, 2020 - 9:40:43 AM
2 posts since 6/2/2020

Hello, I am 100% new to the banjo. I love the sound and would love to play it. However, every time I attempt to practice, I get so dang frustrated and put it away, but always find myself trying again at some later point, with getting frustrated over again. This is a loop. My right hand technique is what I'm overthinking. I just cannot comprehend how to hold my hand, how to pluck the strings, what fingers pluck what strings, etc. I know there is a search bar, and looking up things is one thing, but actually trying it? I just cant! There is so much tension in my hand! There are no places to take lessons because of COVID.

I want help, but I dont know how to seek it and what to ask. No matter what though, I'm not gonna give up totally.

Jun 4, 2020 - 10:19:16 AM
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Neil Allen

France

917 posts since 6/15/2014

I wouldn't try to go directly into Scruggs style as you may just get very frustrated and waste hundreds of hours without achieving much. After all, Earl himself was proficient in other styles before he developed his way of playing and arranging the music. You've got to learn to walk before you run.

Try two-finger style and get proficient at that first. A good place to start is with the free lessons you can find here.

This is about the simplest and most intuitive way to play the banjo and it can sound very good and will stand you in good stead if you want to move onto Scruggs style at some later stage.

Jun 4, 2020 - 10:20:49 AM
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3965 posts since 10/18/2007

I'm sure there are lots of teachers who are distance teaching using computers. A good teacher could watch your fingers and give you solid tips. In fact I even know a patient teacher who could help you, if you want to email him. Learning finger coordination on bluegrass banjo can be very frustrating at first.

Jun 4, 2020 - 10:24:20 AM

jrdew

USA

1415 posts since 11/25/2007

There are a lot of free resources on the Internet to help you get started until some of the COVID restrictions are eased...

Free Banjo Lesson: Wearing Your Picks And Right Hand Technique -- youtube.com/watch?v=cDAFoqdYUaM

Jens Kruger has a whole series for free. Here's just one lesson -- youtube.com/watch?v=P3Vh0jlIcS4

Enjoy the journey!

Jun 4, 2020 - 10:33:46 AM
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2154 posts since 5/2/2012

I switched over to 2 finger thumb lead shortly after I took up the banjo. I learned one measure, then learned a second, then learned to put those 2 together without pausing, learned a 3rd measure, tied that one in with the first 2, and so on. Took me a month to learn (as I recall) a tune with 8 measures. But by the end of the month I had a good grasp of what I needed to learn. Time passed and I gave Scruggs style a shot. Adding the 3rd finger was a bit of an adjustment, but the hardest part was getting used to the picks. I already knew how to learn a tune, had the fretting hand skills, but adding that 3rd finger (with picks) was a real challenge. Six months in, after a practice, my wife said something about me really making music, so I knew I had arrived.
Take a deep breath, know that it takes time and patience (give yourself 4 to 6 months if you are a mere mortal), learn in small bites, and know that if it was easy anybody could do it. As has been said, more teachers are turning to Skype, Duo (Android phones), Zoom, Facetime, etc, to teach students. A few lessons with a good and patient teacher will get you on your way. Welcome to the Hangout!

Edited by - thisoldman on 06/04/2020 10:34:40

Jun 4, 2020 - 12:28:16 PM
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92 posts since 3/10/2020

Find a simple roll and do it slowly until you're familiar with it. It doesn't matter if you get it wrong when practicing, keep playing the roll even if you mess up. After you've done it for a bit, reflect on what worked and what didn't. Take notice to your hand. No one plays the same. Loosen your hand up as much as you can. Sometimes when you're not worried about it you will strike gold. I'll watch tv and play, out of nowhere what I had trouble doing isn't that hard anymore.

Jun 4, 2020 - 3:58:12 PM

261 posts since 4/27/2020

Yeah, try a real simple roll. 3 notes. TIM on say the third, second, and first strings. Have you tried something like that?

Jun 4, 2020 - 6:50:24 PM

3434 posts since 5/6/2004

Jun 5, 2020 - 6:42:55 AM
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1862 posts since 2/10/2013

You have a computer. You can access Youtube. Youtube has more information on banjo playing techniques than you can read in several days. Just reading info on how to correct a problem will not provide instantaneous results. You have to spend time "working" on the possible solution. For some individuals, it can take a long time before getting results. Worry less, browse Youtube, and practice regularly.

Jun 5, 2020 - 1:14:36 PM

92 posts since 3/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Richard Hauser

You have a computer. You can access Youtube. Youtube has more information on banjo playing techniques than you can read in several days. Just reading info on how to correct a problem will not provide instantaneous results. You have to spend time "working" on the possible solution. For some individuals, it can take a long time before getting results. Worry less, browse Youtube, and practice regularly.


I agree! Wonderful suggestions.

Jun 5, 2020 - 1:33:03 PM
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6629 posts since 8/30/2004

Good point. I've been teaching via Zoom and am busier than ever in person and now, from all over the country, people can take lessons--go figure...Jack

Originally posted by Cornflake

I'm sure there are lots of teachers who are distance teaching using computers. A good teacher could watch your fingers and give you solid tips. In fact I even know a patient teacher who could help you, if you want to email him. Learning finger coordination on bluegrass banjo can be very frustrating at first.


Jun 7, 2020 - 2:02:21 PM

2 posts since 6/2/2020

Thank you for the support and advice! I'm a very impatient person, but I know practice takes patience. I'll keep looking at youtube for now.

Jun 7, 2020 - 4:02:10 PM
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26 posts since 4/16/2020

When you first start, you see folks teaching and playing songs and they make it look so easy. Don't expect to just pick up and play anything when first starting. Those who make it look easy have been playing for years. If you don't have an instructor, pick a beginner lesson on youtube that others have suggested and start at step one and simply practice it... then on to step two. Learn some rolls, some basic chords and let your mind and fingers get used to them. It really isn't very hard to make music with a banjo but it won't come automatically. Spend a little time every day and you'll be playing a song or two in just a few short weeks and the banjo will feel much more familiar in your hands. Nothing will take the place of plain old simple practice, so just stick with it.

Jun 8, 2020 - 6:42:42 AM
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17 posts since 12/12/2019

Check out Jim Pankey on youtube. He has a very good beginning banjo 10 lesson free series. Don't be too hard on yourself. Rolls are a great place to start. Jim will start out by showing you the correct way to hold a banjo, etc. It's going to take time, but your practice time is luck money in the bank. Day by day you will get slightly better. If you can have good practice sessions for 1 to 2 hours a day you will make improvements. Work hard at it you will get it.

Edited by - TheWoodBoss on 06/08/2020 06:45:01

Jun 10, 2020 - 9:38:11 AM
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2191 posts since 4/5/2006

A lot, if not most, people today expect instant gratification. This is the world we live in. Get over it. BG banjo ain't gonna happen just like that. For starters, most of what most of us have done with our hands up to this point is akin to grabbing a baseball bat, or a hammer! BG banjo is all about fingers, iduvidual, rapid fire, both left & right hand at the same time, always thinking ahead! It takes time & practice to develop those skills. Don't expect to play Cripple Creek right out of the gate.

You have to learn to walk before you can run. In this case, you have to learn to crawl before you can even walk! The brain transfers what the eye sees on a page (tablature) into a command for a certain finger to pick a certain string. Something your body has heretofore never been asked to do. The command path has yet to become firmly established. Mistakes are inevetable & to be expected. Keep at it. Again, again, again. Accuracy first, then speed.

In order to pick one note after the other, in time, you have to read the page & pick the string without looking away from the page. Everything considered, not an easy task. There are no shortcuts. Repitition is the only way the brain & the fingers are going to learn. One string at a time. One measure at a time. One line (four measures) at a time. New licks, new chords, new keys, new tools being added to your tool box. When you have gathered enough tools, you can begin putting together tunes. 

it is easy to become discouraged. WTH does it take so long? Kids pick this up quick. Kids are hard wired to learn. That's all they do. And the reservoir is empty. Their little pea brain is like an empty sponge, soaking up everything without question. Adults have the rigors of everyday life getting in the way. Hang in there it will happen. It just takes adults a little longer.    

Edited by - monstertone on 06/10/2020 09:52:42

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