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Banjo Advice

Playing in the the key of D and playing by ear

Here are some suggestions I just sent to a student preparing to attend an upcoming workshop of mine. I don't always have time for this but was inspired tonight. The suggestions might help you too so I'll share them.

In the time before the workshop you could practice a few things that I feel would be good for your playing .

Choose either a basic 8 note forward reverse roll, 8 note alternating thumb roll or 8 note forward roll.

First, pick each roll or any one of them continuously without any breaks or pauses, concentrating on being steady and consistent. Shoot for 20 to 30 consecutive without a pauses or breaks in the rhythm. Miss-hits or mistakes are ok, and are to be expected, just don't stop to correct them under any circumstances, keep the roll going.

Next play two 8 note rolls (two forward-reverse rolls for instance) on each of these chords. Mix up the rolls if you want, but start simple, one roll at a time for the whole progression of chords is just as effective in this exercise.

C  G  D  G  C  G  D  G

If you can, start moving up the neck and playing the same rolls but fretting the C G and D chords in different positions on the neck.

Your goal is to not pause, to play steady, and not stop to correct miss frets or miss picks. Everyone makes mistakes, keep going and plow through them.

Review as much on chords as you can too. The four finger chord shapes.

See you soon, look forward to meeting you too, Ross Nickerson

Reply to a student reporting on timing problems and other common hurdles

Thanks for the positive feedback. timing problems can often be solved by learning to count out or tap out the beats or notes in each measure, (without playing).

Listen to the CD too and try to hear what you are trying to do, or count it without whacking away at it incorrectly over and over That can build negative muscle memory and hard habits to break. Take your time, study the tab, memorize and reinforce good timing and good technique.

Thanks again,
Ross Nickerson
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