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Sep 5, 2021 - 7:56:23 PM
16 posts since 7/29/2021

As a beginner, a couple of months into this the question is:
Can a person practice too much, practice too often or practice too long in one session?
I read the post on BHO about tension and how it affects playing. Sometimes it seems if my practice goes a long time I seem to do some unexplained things with my right hand.

Sep 5, 2021 - 8:50:57 PM
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1089 posts since 1/26/2011

Darrel, take it from me, you can over do it early in. I started at 57, a couple of years younger than you. I over practiced, and ended up with tendinitis in my right thumb. I completely recovered, but started breaking my practice into 20 to 30 minute sessions with breaks in between. I still practiced 90 minutes a day, but by breaking my sessions up I allowed my hand time to rest, and allowed my mind to process my practice. It also kept me from losing focus. Remember, you’re looking for perfect practice. If you practice mistakes, you’ll get better at making them.  smiley

This is a marathon, not a sprint.  Take your time, enjoy the journey, and you'll make continuous progress.

Sep 5, 2021 - 9:39:39 PM
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160 posts since 2/20/2004

Long time, 45 year, guitar player, 40 year fiddler, 20 year banjo player and I got tendinitis earlier this year, had to get steroid shots.
The tendinitis was not all from playing my instruments but that exacerbated it.
I usually play something for a couple hours a day...not all banjo.

Anyway when I’m trying to learn something I do as jdeluke says and break it up in to 20 minutes sessions.
As you’ve probably experienced, when you are working on a complex project, sometimes it’s best to walk away for a few hours and come back with a fresh perspective. Same here. Playing an instrument is definitely complex. Otherwise, more people would do it.

Sep 5, 2021 - 11:10:44 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

25222 posts since 6/25/2005

If you vary what you practice, then, no, you can’t really practice too much. Classical players, for instance, practice 6 or more hours per day. Benny Goodman, already the finest jazz clarinetist in the world, practiced incessantly in his heyday—and continued for the rest of his life. He was found dead, slumped over in his chair while practicing.

Sep 6, 2021 - 12:15:20 AM

1566 posts since 11/17/2018

That may be an "urban legend".

According to Wikipedia -

Goodman died June 13, 1986, from a heart attack while taking a nap at his apartment in Manhattan House.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Goodman#Later_years

Edited by - OldNavyGuy on 09/06/2021 00:15:53

Sep 6, 2021 - 4:40:48 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26399 posts since 8/3/2003

Bill Rogers has the right idea: vary your practice routine, take a break, let your fingers and your mind rest. Give your brain time to absorb what it's learning and put it into memory.

When I first started picking many years ago I would practice for hours on the weekend and maybe an hour each evening. I was young at that time and it didn't seem to bother me. Now? I try to limit my practice/picking to about 30 minutes at a time, stop, rest, do something else and then maybe go back to practice. Keeps my fingers and mind in better shape.

Sep 6, 2021 - 5:23:47 AM
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2814 posts since 11/15/2003

NO!
WARP!

Sep 6, 2021 - 5:50:12 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

20426 posts since 6/30/2015
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quote:
Originally posted by Bill Rogers

If you vary what you practice, then, no, you can’t really practice too much. Classical players, for instance, practice 6 or more hours per day. Benny Goodman, already the finest jazz clarinetist in the world, practiced incessantly in his heyday—and continued for the rest of his life. He was found dead, slumped over in his chair while practicing.


And my parents told me that practicing won't kill me.  Yet another lie!!!

Sep 6, 2021 - 5:52:54 AM
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DC5

USA

20426 posts since 6/30/2015
Online Now

Any repetitive motion or action can cause injury. Variety is the key. Going 6 hours straight is not as useful, and is more dangerous than doing 30 20 minute sessions with breaks and different activities in between. Also the breaks will help you learn faster.

Sep 6, 2021 - 6:20:04 AM

16 posts since 7/29/2021

I get going and I don’t want to quit but I find that after an hour or so it doesn’t seem to be as productive.
I make a mistake and I want to fix it.
Kinda like Ebo Walker and his fiddle. I could play all day but after a while it sounds less like playing more like plucking.
Injury definitely doesn’t sound inviting.
Last time I did this I was over forty years younger and I certainly did not have enough time to practice like I do now. Sounds like and adjustment to practice sessions is necessary. Thanks all!

Sep 6, 2021 - 6:34:26 AM
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582 posts since 5/22/2021

As Pete Seeger said, don't think of practicing in the formal sense. Just think of it like you just like playing the banjo a lot.

Sep 6, 2021 - 7:04:44 AM

chief3

Canada

1131 posts since 10/26/2003

Yes, you can practice too much if your practice sessions are not managed well. Physical rest is important. The over exertion of muscles and tendons from long sessions of practice can result in physical fatigue which can impede finger movement and possibly cause physical damage. You could also develop posture problems that can affect playing. Mental rest is important. Mental fatigue can result in the loss of concentration and can also increase the likelihood of creating a situation where the player is actual repeating mistakes both of which reduces learning efficiency. More short intense practice sessions instead of fewer long sessions is often recommended.

Sep 6, 2021 - 8:04:29 AM

2801 posts since 2/10/2013
Online Now

IMHO a player can overemphasize exercises. Remember, we do exercises to improve how well we play tunes. But playing melodies and rhythm at a jam never seemed to be a problem. The exceptional banjo players I knew play banjo for long periods of time. But I do think a relatively new player will physically benefit from having more shorter practice sessions instead of one very long practice session.

Sep 6, 2021 - 8:25:03 AM

RB3

USA

1098 posts since 4/12/2004

Yes.

Presumably, you will learn what you practice. If you practice the wrong stuff, more rather than less practice time will be detrimental; you will learn the wrong stuff. The problem is that someone starting out is likely to not know if they're practicing the right stuff. This is one of the valid reasons to begin the process with a good teacher.

Sep 6, 2021 - 11:40:37 AM
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2639 posts since 4/5/2006

There is a lot to learn about playing bluegrass banjo. Most people have a limit to the amount of material the brain is able to process in a given period of time. TMI As time passes, more & more of this stuff gets logged into the memory banks, opening space for (learning) new stuff.

In order for the brain to operate at maximum efficiency, one must be in the right frame of mind.  Cast aside all BS of the day. Get in your happy space. The hands are loosened up, the flood gates are wide open. Bring it on!

The more one plays/learns, the less power it takes to make it happen. Keep the banjo & picks out, readily accessible. Maximize every spare minute to stay in the game. Multiple mini sessions, to marathon sessions. When it becomes tiring, take a break. When you feel up to it, pick up where you left off.

Sep 6, 2021 - 5:22:25 PM
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AGACNP

USA

197 posts since 10/12/2011

quote:
Originally posted by gottadothis

As a beginner, a couple of months into this the question is:
Can a person practice too much, practice too often or practice too long in one session?
I read the post on BHO about tension and how it affects playing. Sometimes it seems if my practice goes a long time I seem to do some unexplained things with my right hand.


Josh Turknett is a neurologist who is also a banjo player. His "Laws of Brainjo" is well worth the $4.99 I paid for the digital version. He uses evidence based research to base his opinions on many 'banjo subjects,' including such questions as "Can I practice too much?"

Might be worth a look for you:

https://www.amazon.com/Laws-Brainjo-Science-Molding-Musical-ebook/dp/B085GBG23P

Sep 6, 2021 - 7:56:36 PM
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43 posts since 10/12/2018

I've been listening to the Huberman podcasts. He's an neuroscientist, and advocates for short bursts of focused intense learning(35-45 minutes, then on to another task. It takes a bit of time to get into the zone, and once your attention is wandering you need to move on to a different learning task. You have another 90 minutes or so of your brain being open to learning, and the best thing to do is to sleep after to wire in what you are trying to learned.

Sep 7, 2021 - 12:59:21 PM
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74 posts since 12/12/2019

If you are new to banjo, it may take some time for your muscles and tendons to build up to handle a long practice. Focus is the other thing that may inhibit your practice. When your focus starts to fade it's time to stop or just play something easy to cool down. You should feel fresh and undistracted after your warm up period when you start to practice.

Sep 8, 2021 - 10:33:16 AM
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2639 posts since 4/5/2006

To gain maximum benefit from time spent, a good study routine is imperative. Eliminate all distractions & come at this with a clear head. Loosen up hands & mind starting with something you know really well. Once comfortable, switch to learn mode. How long one is able to stay in the groove will vary according to the individual and/or circumstance. When no longer able to hold the groove, it's time to put it down. YMMV         

Sep 8, 2021 - 8:47:30 PM
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Tommy5

USA

3898 posts since 2/22/2009

People can only absorb so much new information , the brain will just overload and forget everything you thought you learned if you try to practice too many new things . Only devote part of your practice time to new stuff, try to concentrate on learning only one new thing at a time. You can practice genetic stuff like timing and rhythm for a while , but learn new tunes a phrase or two at a time, add more stuff as you learn new stuff, too much of anything gets stale.Work gradually on endurance, don’t hurt yourself , it is counter productive.

Sep 8, 2021 - 9:28:51 PM

24 posts since 11/23/2019

I think you can practice to long. I personally try to force myself to learn to much at once. Sometimes you just have to give it a rest to retain the info. Come back to it later or the next day , and if I am lucky it smooths out .

Sep 9, 2021 - 10:26:34 PM
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Joeblo

Australia

31 posts since 3/1/2021

What about if it takes 10 years of 1 hour practice a day to learn an instrument, practising 2 hours a day and you'll do it in 5

Sep 10, 2021 - 9:46:09 AM

43 posts since 10/12/2018

quote:
Originally posted by Joeblo

What about if it takes 10 years of 1 hour practice a day to learn an instrument, practising 2 hours a day and you'll do it in 5


Only if you break that up into smaller manageable chunks throughout the day.  Very few people have the ability to concentrate on a new task for 2 hours.

Sep 10, 2021 - 10:04:29 AM
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LzChase

Sweden

216 posts since 10/30/2019

In my personal opinion, there is no limit as long as it is fun and your fingers don't hurt. If it gets boring, take a break so you don't burn yourself out.

Sep 10, 2021 - 10:09:58 PM
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csrat

USA

866 posts since 9/14/2008

Practice does not make perfect.
Perfect practice makes perfect.

If you've been practicing for awhile, and you're starting to make sloppy mistakes it's time to take a break.

Sep 11, 2021 - 3:04:36 AM
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4363 posts since 12/6/2009

If you’re practicing to the point where you start hurting yourself yeah that’s too much. But I have found, especially when first learning that there’s a point when your fingers start to become more flexible. My fluid point came mostly after an hour of practice. At that point I found my fingers did more of what I wanted.....kind of like or is....called warming up. You can tell when a banjo picker hasn’t warmed up he/she usually has a choppy attack (even the pros) that takes a few songs before it smooths out.....IMHO....I know  two classical guitar player pros who play 4 or 5 hours a day to stay ready.

Edited by - overhere on 09/11/2021 03:05:18

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