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Ask a Banjo Instructor
Questions / Answers from Ross Nickerson

Trouble with in the index finger while picking banjo
Fly Away Index Finger and Building Speed Question


Just wanted to thank you again and let you know how productive the cruise workshop was for me. I have been playing about two hours a day in the month since we’ve been back and am seeing improvement in most areas. I’m mostly practicing the two-finger chord positions, playing in thirds and sixths, and doing left and right hand exercises out of the Banjo Encyclopedia, which is very well done I must say. My only source of frustration right now is that no matter how much I practice my rolls, I cannot break the 240 metronome barrier, and I think I know why. My right index finger comes off much too high during all rolls except backward ones, and cannot get back into position quickly enough for me to improve my speed. I have been doing your exercises every day for the last month to try to overcome this handicap, but with no success so far. Any other insights or exercises you may have for this problem would be greatly appreciated. Good luck and hope to see you next year.

My Response

Thanks for taking the time to email me and tell me you were happy with the cruise. I am always the most concerned about students who travel the furthest and at a big expense so it means a lot to me that you enjoyed the experience and got a lot from it.

I'm not sure what to say on the speed thing except keep trying, However, in the case of a fly away finger, if you are convinced that you want to fix that, you may need to slow way, way down to the point where you can control what it does, then fix it, then bring the roll back up very, very slowly so that it stops doing that. Also, at the speed the finger starts to go involuntarily back to flying away, stop there and continue to try and control it, then go up to the next notch, etc, give that a try.

Thanks again,
Ross Nickerson
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