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May 25, 2024 - 12:33:53 PM
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9 posts since 3/6/2024

I know I've heard of all the positive aspects of banjo (or music in general). Good for the mind, can make you happy lots of good things mentally. But, I'm noticing that this are strange things going on with my practices. So, maybe somebody can tell me what's going on with my mind. How is it (or riddle this batman!) How is it a person can play like a maestro and the next day not hit but half my notes. I'm a musical Dr Jekyll, Mr Hyde.

I've trained some horses in the past and it seems to me I'm identical to them mentally (lazy, just want to eat...) You always watch them grow and learn and then, BOOM! Ya go out one day and they can't do anything. They are always advancing eventually though.

I'll never be able to grow into a professional because of it. Ya just never know when it will strike. On stage...? Who knows?

May 25, 2024 - 12:46:42 PM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

2369 posts since 8/9/2019

It's normal. Good days and bad days. Some have fewer than others.

Everyone is different. Practice is important because when you're feeling like you're struggling, you will revert to your lowel level of competence. Wether you want to or not.

That's why increasing that lowest level of competence through practice is so vital for consistency.

Pro's lowest level of competency would extend well beyond my maximum level of competency. That's why they still sound like themselves on an "off" night.

May 25, 2024 - 12:55:13 PM
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jameskg

USA

9 posts since 3/6/2024

I see the point. It's the reason i get stage fright. I know it takes me 4 times on a given song to do it right and so, i should practice to do my 4th run first and so, I'll only be as bad as i am on my worst day.

Yup, just like a horse. I was thinking i was level up.

May 25, 2024 - 1:02:56 PM
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beegee

USA

23256 posts since 7/6/2005

Learning is not a straight linear process. It's more like a roller-coaster. up, down. fast, slow,.. synapses, muscle-memory, imprinting, adrenalin, mood swings, weather.
I haven't played much since my heart by-pass in 2017. Then I was sidelined by buying a house, moving, COVID epidemic, Knee surgery, etc.,etc. I just started back playing and it was rough. I had to retrain my aging brain and muscles. I' starting to get it back after several months, but the older I get the better I was....I don't do a lot of things at 75, that I used to do when I was 25. My best advice: play with patient companions, regular use of a metronome, play every day at least once, even if it's just to make noise

Edited by - beegee on 05/25/2024 13:05:58

May 25, 2024 - 1:37:12 PM
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804 posts since 5/29/2015

My playing is strictly Mr. Hyde.

May 25, 2024 - 1:39:57 PM
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Owen

Canada

15162 posts since 6/5/2011

Bob: ".... even if it's just to make noise."   

Owen: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Maybe Satchel Paige picked banjo??  “You win a few, you lose a few. Some get rained out. But you got to dress for all of them.” 

May 25, 2024 - 1:40:25 PM
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jameskg

USA

9 posts since 3/6/2024

LOL!!! I know the feeling sometimes.

May 25, 2024 - 1:45:46 PM
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jameskg

USA

9 posts since 3/6/2024

My wife enjoys Dr. Jekel.

May 25, 2024 - 1:52:07 PM
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65 posts since 9/1/2020

That's perfectly natural.
It'll never actually go away...
But with lots and lots of practice, your 'off days' will become less and less perceivable to others.
Eventually you'll say, wow that was terrible, and someone is gonna say they wish they could play half that good.
Don't psych yourself out.

May 25, 2024 - 2:12:31 PM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

30200 posts since 8/3/2003

In my opinion, on off days the best thing to do is try to get through whatever the problem is and keep going. I've been on stage a few times and made a mistake in my picking and just kept on picking. The only ones that notice it are other banjo players and maybe the band. Most of the audience never realizes a mistake was ever made.

I had a teacher tell me once that if you make a mistake, make another one just like it and everyone will think it's that way on purpose.

Or, to summize: don't worry about the small stuff, just keep on picking. Have fun, that's what it's all about.

May 25, 2024 - 4:06:05 PM
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90 posts since 12/8/2011

Further to the "play your mistakes twice" advice, if you're not already doing it then practice "playing out of your mistakes" when you're practicing.

May 25, 2024 - 4:22:34 PM

15706 posts since 10/30/2008

My only "real" advice might be to make your practice MUCH longer in duration.

I'm 70 now and I try to "touch" the banjo every day. But I don't really sit for a couple of hours (I used to practice fro 3 to 6 hours every day when I was a kid) and dig in and WORK.

"Touching" the banjo every day is not keeping up my chops at all. If I try to really dig in and WORK for a good long time, I fall asleep with the banjo in my arms!!!!!!

I'm going to my favorite bluegrass festival in 4 weeks. (Jenny Brook - Vermont) I MUST really hit the woodshed hard before then.

May 25, 2024 - 5:05:31 PM
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jameskg

USA

9 posts since 3/6/2024

Strum app has really increased my practice time. It's a lot more fun to practice with it.

May 25, 2024 - 5:14:29 PM
Players Union Member

corcoran

Canada

560 posts since 8/3/2004

Yes, we all have good days and bad days. If you are having a bad day, it is important to R-E-L-A-X (to quote a great quarterback who is a bit of a flake, but one who does not play the banjo). When you feel off, stop, take a bunch of deep breaths -- in through the nose, out through the mouth -- for a few minutes. Close your eyes, drop your arms to your sides, wiggle your wrists and fingers. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and not hunching over. After a few minutes of not playing, begin again with some basic stuff -- play familiar rolls/licks/patterns, switch chord and play them there. Just warm up and get your digits working without stressing or obsessing. If you feel better and sound decent, try a couple of simple tunes -- Boil 'Em Cabbage Down, Cripple Creek. If you still feel out of sorts, put the banjo down (do not throw it through the window),and come back to it later today or tomorrow. I have been playing for a long time and have experienced many of the difficult days you described. These relaxation techniques work for me. Or they don't, in which case I decide "You are a fluke of the Universe -- give up!" (Just kidding).

May 25, 2024 - 5:29:24 PM
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79702 posts since 5/9/2007

Sometimes we are our own worst critic.
Sometimes I'll play something exactly as I wanted it to sound and get no response and other times wish I hadn't played a certain way and received compliments.

Just play and don't be too hard on yourself.

May 25, 2024 - 11:44:11 PM

HSmith

UK

573 posts since 12/30/2005

I certainly have good and bad days. Even after 50+ years of playing banjo, there are some days when it's just not there. I guess the problem is further highlighted for me because these days I'm focussing on more complex pieces and a little jazz. The demands of playing this stuff pushes me to the limit of my abilities (and sometimes past that limit!) If things are going really badly, I find it helpful to play through a couple of tunes that I know really well, and that don't require any technical stretching. For me, 'Whisky Before Breakfast' and 'Blackberry Blossom' are good for this. When I'm struggling with what I want to learn, playing something like those two tunes reminds me that I really can do it, and shouldn't become despondent.

May 26, 2024 - 3:15:17 AM
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53 posts since 9/8/2017

quote:
Originally posted by corcoran

 "You are a fluke of the Universe -- give up!" (Just kidding).


HA!  "Cosmic muffin!"  Haven't heard "Deteriorata" in years!

May 26, 2024 - 4:54:24 AM
Players Union Member

jameskg

USA

9 posts since 3/6/2024

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Sometimes we are our own worst critic.
Sometimes I'll play something exactly as I wanted it to sound and get no response and other times wish I hadn't played a certain way and received compliments.

 

Yes, my wife says I'm a perfectionist! Without the perfection.

Just play and don't be too hard on yourself.


May 26, 2024 - 5:15:37 AM

Fathand

Canada

12387 posts since 2/7/2008

If your not used to being on stage there are new distractions that aren't at home. Concentrate on playing not funny hats in the audience.

If my hands are stiff from recent physical work, I can have trouble for a bit.

Sometimes it's other people your playing with, like a jam with people on wrong chords or bad rhythm.

Good luck

Edited by - Fathand on 05/26/2024 05:16:08

May 26, 2024 - 6:51:55 AM

KCJones

USA

3060 posts since 8/30/2012

If it makes you feel any better, the pros have off days and make lots of mistakes too. Watch enough live shows and you'll see JD Crowe and Bela Fleck and John Hartford all make lots of mistakes.

I saw a Bela Fleck interview once and he said he didn't feel like he was "good", and he needed to practice a lot to get better. So theres that.

Edited by - KCJones on 05/26/2024 06:52:16

May 26, 2024 - 5:06:18 PM
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666 posts since 11/2/2009

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Sometimes we are our own worst critic.


And we work for free and love overtime!

May 26, 2024 - 5:21:40 PM

666 posts since 11/2/2009

For years when I started to practice, I had to “sneak up” on it. I had some simple things I would do to warm up and went through that progression every time, I never just jumped in because that assured negative results and compounded disappointment. Only recently have been able to out hitting well-know practice licks, but not at full speed (MY full speed, not an actual banjo players full speed). Every other night I work a set series of exercises. Incredibly, people have been right all these years about the value of working through exercises - who’d a thunk???

It takes a few months (in my untalented case) for improvement to come but when it does, I am almost shocked! Where’d this come from, I say to myself. I do practice a couple hours a night. I live alone, so I can do that without an issue. You may want to consider a divorce - I mean, if you want to get better on the banjo, you have to make sacrifices. If he or she really loves you, they will understand.

May 28, 2024 - 9:39:10 AM

79702 posts since 5/9/2007

The more you play,the better you'll get.

May 28, 2024 - 9:57:55 AM
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333 posts since 4/27/2020

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

The more you play,the better you'll get.


The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get - Joe Walsh
May 28, 2024 - 8:30:38 PM

Paul R

Canada

16948 posts since 1/28/2010

When we make mistakes, we call it jazz.

May 29, 2024 - 6:43:32 AM

phb

Germany

4065 posts since 11/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by KCJones

If it makes you feel any better, the pros have off days and make lots of mistakes too. Watch enough live shows and you'll see JD Crowe and Bela Fleck and John Hartford all make lots of mistakes.


They probably have made more mistakes in their lives than most of us! (of course, they have played far more hours, too)

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