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Dec 1, 2022 - 7:18:46 AM
245 posts since 2/22/2019

What do you think about when playing? The type of roll? Each note? Are you counting the beat? I am just learning and curious what should I should be thinking about.

Dec 1, 2022 - 7:29:31 AM
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3940 posts since 7/12/2006

I just try to get into the song . Become the tune. Cause what you feel inside will show in yoyr playing

Dec 1, 2022 - 7:35:39 AM
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Owen

Canada

12324 posts since 6/5/2011

It's of no help, but I posed that question to a v-e-r-y experienced local fiddler.... when he's playing something for "the 10,000th. time"?   His reply: "Just trying not to screw up."

Dec 1, 2022 - 7:53:22 AM
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RB-1

Netherlands

3865 posts since 6/17/2003

Not what I am thinking about (could be literally anything), but this is what the question reminded me of:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkalf0odHs8

Dec 1, 2022 - 8:02:24 AM
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grandpafive

Canada

3016 posts since 8/30/2014

Bruno, I sink that's the funniest thing I've seen in while. devil

Dec 1, 2022 - 8:03:34 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

28235 posts since 8/3/2003

I've been playing a long time, so I don't usually have to think about the basics; i.e., what note, what beat, what lick, what's next.

When I'm picking, I think melody. If it's a song, I sing it in my head while picking it. If it's an instrumental, I mentally hum the melody. My fingers and brain seem to know where to go and how to keep in tempo and time.

When learning new songs, lots of times I will count to be sure I'm getting the notes in the right place and the timing right. After a couple of run throughs on the song, I usually think just melody. In a jam situation, I think melody and let my fingers and brain do the rest.

Dec 1, 2022 - 8:07:59 AM
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RB3

USA

1587 posts since 4/12/2004

I'm thinking about what I'm going to do next.

Dec 1, 2022 - 8:17:59 AM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

2038 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by stanleytone

I just try to get into the song . Become the tune. Cause what you feel inside will show in yoyr playing


To me, banjo pickin is the canary in the proverbial coalmine of how someone feels on the inside.

If you're not feeling it that day, everything from tone to timing will suffer.

The banjo never lies. 

Dec 1, 2022 - 9:17:46 AM
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phb

Germany

3689 posts since 11/8/2010

The fiddler.

No, I wonder myself what I am thinking about. Not much high-level thinking for sure (such as rolls or beats, I believe I do think about the chord structure like when the next chord change is going to happen but it's nothing like counting measures and beats).

I can't even talk while playing, I hear I stare like a cow giving birth. In yesterday's jam I know I wondered several times who was going to play the next break. That is some thinking at least.

I suspect not thinking might be what makes playing so much fun.

Dec 1, 2022 - 9:26:11 AM
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552 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by HighLonesomeF5

What do you think about when playing? The type of roll? Each note? Are you counting the beat? I am just learning and curious what should I should be thinking about.


I try to avoid thinking about anything. I LISTEN

Dec 1, 2022 - 9:58:50 AM
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corcoran

Canada

499 posts since 8/3/2004
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To the extent that I think about anything, it’s probably mostly the song and listening to what the other players are doing. But I have been playing for a long long time, and I am sure in earlier times I thought about specific notes and how to execute passages or rolls.

It may be of interest to consider a study I read about in which researchers used brain imaging to compare patterns of activity in professional musicians (classical, as I recall) to high-level amateurs. The professionals’ brains showed increased activity in the frontal lobes, the planning areas of the brain, with minimal changes in the motor areas. In the amateurs, in contrast, there was a big increase in activity in the motor areas, as though they were thinking about what notes to play and how to execute specific passages and rolls. I guess one message is that sustained practice changes how you attack the instrument.

Dec 1, 2022 - 10:11:56 AM
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41 posts since 12/5/2020

When I am playing a memorized piece I am thinking about the words to the tune. If the tune has no words then I am thinking about the sound of the notes or chords. If I try to think of any of the mechanics of playing the tune I start making mistakes. To learn a biomechanical maneuver involves muscle memory. Muscle memory is defined as “… a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition, which has been used synonymously with motor learning. When a movement is repeated over time, the brain creates a long-term muscle memory for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed with little to no conscious effort”. The key is -performance with little or no conscious effort. If I concentrate on making a conscious effort, I will make a mistake on a memorized tune.

Edited by - Fiannakid on 12/01/2022 10:14:08

Dec 1, 2022 - 11:31:31 AM
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176 posts since 7/24/2021

This is one of the funniest places to hangout. Every answer was right on point, thoughtful and funny.. but true. Thank you to the hangout and all of the members. Y’all make me just bust out laughing sometimes. Much Obliged

Dec 1, 2022 - 12:28:35 PM
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379 posts since 8/9/2022

In a session? If the fiddle player kicks off a tune that is new to me all my attention and concentration is on transferring that rhythm, those pitch changes, that phrasing and emphasis to my fingers and then interpreting that whole in a way that sits nice on the banjo and fits with the overall sound.

And the folks who claim banjo players are dumb got it all wrong. They don't realise that when highly developed brains are running efficiently at full capacity, we have evolved higher up the food chain and can maximise resources by automatically closing down non-essential functions. That's why we sometimes drool. wink

Edited by - quartertoner on 12/01/2022 12:36:36

Dec 2, 2022 - 11:52:37 AM
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77162 posts since 5/9/2007

I think about what others are playing and try and compliment that.

Basically I play what seems to fit in the moment.

Edited by - steve davis on 12/02/2022 11:55:46

Dec 4, 2022 - 4:06:13 AM
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4817 posts since 12/6/2009

after you've been playing a while you get to feel the beat....to tell the truth for years I played just the sounds of the beats...then someone came along and tried to show me the beats and the theory.....screwed me up for the longest time....so i went back to the feeling.... could never play a song while thinking one and two and three and... ....whatever.... actually many already have the natural beats inside them so dont really need outside help. watch little two year old kids dancing to music on the radio....I see them right on the beats....that's a gift and they usually go in live playing musicale instruments

Dec 4, 2022 - 7:29:03 AM

245 posts since 2/22/2019

So you are not thinking about the roll you are playing? Is only one roll repeated through a song?

Edited by - HighLonesomeF5 on 12/04/2022 07:29:37

Dec 4, 2022 - 8:22:22 AM
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49 posts since 10/13/2011

I Think About Dolly Parton…
It Keeps The Mistakes To A Minimum..!!..

Edited by - DocBanjeaux on 12/04/2022 08:23:04

Dec 4, 2022 - 9:11:32 AM
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77162 posts since 5/9/2007

I never think about the mechanics of how I'm playing.
I pretty much know ahead of time how I'm going to approach my break.
An example could be "I'm going to play Dear" Old Dixie for my upcoming break to Glendale Train"
or perhaps "I believe I'll play the next C as a 332 for a fancy 7th."

A lot of my choices are as an overall kind of thing like "The fiddle just did a high break on Soldier's Joy so I'll play the lower octave break for my turn or maybe a tenor harmony break for a change."

I never think about what roll I'm playing.

Edited by - steve davis on 12/04/2022 09:18:18

Dec 4, 2022 - 9:39:20 AM
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4267 posts since 10/18/2007

One of my goals while practicing is to play without consciously thinking about the tune and without looking at the fretboard. I sometimes spend hours playing while watching videos on YouTube. I wear ear muff hearing protectors, turn off the volume on the video program and select the speech caption option on the screen. This is a good way to practice newly learned tunes ,riffs, and odd right hand finger patterns—and learn about car maintenance, long distance running, carpentry, gardening etc.

And yes, it’s not for everyone, but it works for me.

Dec 4, 2022 - 9:52:19 AM
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77162 posts since 5/9/2007

After you've been playing for some time you stop thinking about how to play and simply play.

Dec 4, 2022 - 10:14:55 AM
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corcoran

Canada

499 posts since 8/3/2004
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quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

After you've been playing for some time you stop thinking about how to play and simply play.


This is the most succinct (and accurate, I suspect) description of what experienced players think about while playing.

Dec 4, 2022 - 2:40:35 PM
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3022 posts since 4/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by stanleytone

I just try to get into the song . Become the tune. Cause what you feel inside will show in your playing


For the novice, the challenge may be just how does one "get into" the tune? Not only getting there, but staying there despite life's interruptions?

The best way I ever found was a jam session, having at least one good BG rhythm guitar player. Invest a little time learning to read guitar chords. Put the phone in airplane mode & the music will draw you into the Bluegrass Twilight Zone. Immersed in that sound, the notes & hot licks come off your picks like water off a duck's back. Time well spent.

Dec 4, 2022 - 5:12:17 PM
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RB-1

Netherlands

3865 posts since 6/17/2003

quote:
Originally posted by HighLonesomeF5

So you are not thinking about the roll you are playing? Is only one roll repeated through a song?


No and no (short answer).

Long answer...

I'm not really 'thinking', though I am aware of what I'm doing.

Depending on the song/tune, it pays off taking a good example and literally learning this note by note.

Your abilities in doing so will grow with the times.

Extremely good pro pickers are known for developing this skill in a few years. After that they came up with great ideas on their own, establishing their personal style.

'Normal' people, like me, could easily  take 10 years or more before just beginning scratching that level.

I'm not complaining, far from that, at almost 50 years of banjo, I can pretty much play anything I can hear in my mind.

You can't play anything you can't imagine inside your head.

To achieve that, I listened extensively to slowed down banjo recordings.

Occasionally combined with reading the corresponding tablature (Not the other way round!) gradually built up the abilities to hear what was going on.

Sooner or later you'll be combining various ideas into something of your own.

Edited by - RB-1 on 12/04/2022 17:21:28

Dec 4, 2022 - 9:29:31 PM

114 posts since 10/12/2018

I've only been playing a little over 4 years, so I may not be the best to listen to. In the last couple months, my right hand just does. I'm thinking about the melody, and emphasizing those notes. Otherwise, I'm just trying to stay in the music, and listen to those around me.

Dec 5, 2022 - 9:35:22 AM

3022 posts since 4/5/2006

quote:
Originally posted by HighLonesomeF5

What do you think about when playing? The type of roll? Each note? Are you counting the beat? I am just learning and curious what should I should be thinking about.


How far into "just learning " are you, xx weeks, months, years???

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