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Jan 16, 2021 - 1:33:48 PM
411 posts since 5/15/2003

After years of playing and not playing, mostly not playing...I realized the other day that I was sort of cheating on my fretting. After watching a Banjo Ben lesson I realized that I was fretting the 3rd string second fret with my index finger and the 4th string fourth fret with my pinky. He mentioned that some do it like that but he wanted to get into the routine of using his middle finger (second finger) on the 3rd string second fret.  Always keeping to using the first finger (index) on the first fret, second finger (middle) on the second fret, third finger (ring) on the third, etc.

When I tried that I found that it was really difficult for me to make that spread....and to unlearn doing it the old way. I really want to learn properly so I don't create barriers from bad habits learned early on.

I think I need to develop some exercises on the fretboard that will help me with stretching. Because it is such a reach for me I end up muting the 3rd string when my pinky tries to fret the 4th string fourth fret.

Hope I'm making clear what my problem, and goal, is here. I am one of the older perpetual beginners here. Am 72 and never really had time to practice steadily. This is the first time where I am making sure that I get in at least 30 minutes to an hour each day on the banjo. Not sure my routine is the best one but I do notice some improvement in my playing.

Are there any good lessons out there for working the left hand?

Thanks

Edited by - michaelws on 01/16/2021 13:37:28

Jan 16, 2021 - 2:21:55 PM
like this

8152 posts since 8/28/2013

Every person's hand is different both in size and in stretch. Just because one person says it's best to do something one way never means it's best for everyone.

At age 72, you might have trouble getting your hand to stretch the way this one player recommends, and you could find yourselt with a torn tendon or other connection. Even at age 30, when all your muscles and ligaments were likely more flexible, it may have been difficult.

I'd say save hurting your hand, screw that particular stretch, and go back to what you can already do.

Jan 16, 2021 - 2:27:49 PM

411 posts since 5/15/2003

Hehe...I won't give up just yet.

Jan 16, 2021 - 2:37:40 PM

Ciao

Mali

3116 posts since 5/15/2011

I found Rob MacKillop's left hand exercises extremely helpful.

Rob is an active member on BHO and a very fine player of stringed instruments.

 

Edited by - Ciao on 01/16/2021 14:39:04

Jan 16, 2021 - 2:56:06 PM
like this

411 posts since 5/15/2003

Thanks Chris that is just the sort of thing I was looking for. Will start practicing some of those.

Jan 16, 2021 - 3:41:45 PM

61 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by michaelws

After years of playing and not playing, mostly not playing...I realized the other day that I was sort of cheating on my fretting. After watching a Banjo Ben lesson I realized that I was fretting the 3rd string second fret with my index finger and the 4th string fourth fret with my pinky. He mentioned that some do it like that but he wanted to get into the routine of using his middle finger (second finger) on the 3rd string second fret.  Always keeping to using the first finger (index) on the first fret, second finger (middle) on the second fret, third finger (ring) on the third, etc.

When I tried that I found that it was really difficult for me to make that spread....and to unlearn doing it the old way. I really want to learn properly so I don't create barriers from bad habits learned early on.

I think I need to develop some exercises on the fretboard that will help me with stretching. Because it is such a reach for me I end up muting the 3rd string when my pinky tries to fret the 4th string fourth fret.

Hope I'm making clear what my problem, and goal, is here. I am one of the older perpetual beginners here. Am 72 and never really had time to practice steadily. This is the first time where I am making sure that I get in at least 30 minutes to an hour each day on the banjo. Not sure my routine is the best one but I do notice some improvement in my playing.

Are there any good lessons out there for working the left hand?

Thanks


This helped me.

THE BLUEGRASS BANJO WORKOUT DVD

In ten information-rich lessons, master teacher Alan Munde de-mystifies many right and left hand playing techniques. Work with these lessons will add to the player’s dexterity, will increase left hand stretch, solve difficult left hand fingerings, increase speed, and help with the visual organization of the fingerboard.

(93-MU-B2) $29.95

THE BLUEGRASS BANJO WORKOUT DVD
$29.95 plus shipping 

https://almundesbanjocollege.com/dvds/

Jan 16, 2021 - 4:37:17 PM

411 posts since 5/15/2003

Thanks Fender Fred. I ordered the DVD.

Jan 16, 2021 - 5:11:59 PM

Alex Z

USA

4096 posts since 12/7/2006

"keeping to using the first finger (index) on the first fret, second finger (middle) on the second fret, third finger (ring) on the third,"

How do you make your full D chord at the 2-3-4 frets?

Jan 16, 2021 - 5:33:22 PM

411 posts since 5/15/2003

Index, middle, ring

Jan 16, 2021 - 6:03:17 PM

411 posts since 5/15/2003

quote:
Originally posted by michaelws

Index 2nd fret, middle 3rd fret, ring and pinky 4th fret

 


Jan 16, 2021 - 7:51:06 PM

8152 posts since 8/28/2013

Although I believe excersizes can increase one's speed, I don't believe they do much for one's reach.

Be very careful. Robert Schumann, 19th century composer, was at one time a virtuoso pianist, but ruined his hands trying to stretch them with exersizes. He's the most famous of the hand wqreckers, but there have been others. Doing things the wrong way, or doing them too much, can lead to things like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Jan 17, 2021 - 4:26:48 AM

Bill H

USA

1526 posts since 11/7/2010

quote:
Originally posted by G Edward Porgie

Every person's hand is different both in size and in stretch. Just because one person says it's best to do something one way never means it's best for everyone.

At age 72, you might have trouble getting your hand to stretch the way this one player recommends, and you could find yourselt with a torn tendon or other connection. Even at age 30, when all your muscles and ligaments were likely more flexible, it may have been difficult.

I'd say save hurting your hand, screw that particular stretch, and go back to what you can already do.


As someone who is 71, my opinion is that stretching is the best medicine for developing flexibility. True that as we age, our joints get stiffer and we lose muscle mass. In my experience exercise is the answer, not the problem. Exercise helps maintain muscle strength and stretching is crucial for well being and mobility.

Jan 17, 2021 - 4:46:15 AM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

25466 posts since 8/3/2003

Whatever exercises you do, remember to do them in moderation and if your hand/fingers start to be painful..... STOP and rest for a while. Don't take the chance of doing harm to your hands/fingers.

Jan 17, 2021 - 7:03 AM

411 posts since 5/15/2003

Thanks for all the answers and the warnings to exercise caution. No harm in trying. Might work, might not.

Thanks again! /great to belong to such an active and supportive community.

Jan 17, 2021 - 11:37:53 AM

Alex Z

USA

4096 posts since 12/7/2006

"Index 2nd fret, middle 3rd fret, ring and pinky 4th fret"

Good.  That's how everyone plays this chord.  Consequently, there is no problem with using the pinky at the 4th fret any other time.  That ain't "cheating" at all.  

The principle is to use the fingers that are convenient from the previous finger positions and/or convenient to go to the next finger positions.  "Cheating" is when the player works around the most efficient fingering because a finger isn't strong enough or accurate enough, and thus ends up moving the hand needlessly.  That's when it's time to go to the woodshed.  But don't need stretching exercises for this.

Hope this helps.  The 1-2-3-4 => index-middle-ring-little has its places, but picking bluegrass in Scruggs style isn't one of them.

Jan 17, 2021 - 4:44:42 PM

411 posts since 5/15/2003

Thanks Alex... lets me off the hook!

Jan 18, 2021 - 9:23:44 PM

126 posts since 11/2/2009

When I was learning jazz chords on guitar I tried to mechanically stretch my fingers apart. I over-stretched and it hurt for about two months. And it didn't work. So, word to the wise...

Jan 19, 2021 - 6:20:27 AM

2503 posts since 2/10/2013

You might start out by capoing around the 5th fret. You won't have to stretch as much. After a month or two, move the capo down to the 4th fret. This will gradually stretch your fingers and eventually you might even be able to play without the capo. One other thing.
warm up your hands before you play. You could dampen a wash cloth with warm water and hold it on your hand. Finally start each playing session by very slowly playing something. A new tune you want to learn for example.

Playing regularly is one of the "keys" to maintaining flexibility and finger strength. But don't overdo things. I am a old retiree and playing as often as possible minimizes hand problems.

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