Three Emile Grimshaw's exercises.

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Comment by thereallyniceman on May 20, 2011 at 10:44

Hi Sylvia,

I have watched your video a few times and perhaps I could make a couple of suggestions to make things easier for you?

You asked about the strap. You are playing seated so should not need a strap. Do you play standing? If you do you are better than me! I find classic fingerstyle very difficult standing, so prefer to play seated. It may be that the position of the banjo is not quite correct if you need a strap.

Check out my Circus Parade video:

Circus Parade

and look where the banjo sits on my right thigh. The banjo neck sticks out away from the chest, not tight to the chest as your seems to be. What this does is enable the left arm to reach the banjo first position without having to bend the elbow outwards "the wrong way". You seem to be reaching out leftwards to reach the chords. This twist of the banjo allows the right forearm to rest and press on the  banjo armrest  (you have an armrest?) and this pressure from the forearm stops the neck falling downwards (this is why I think you are using a neck strap).  You will find that most players don't use a strap while seated... check out a few videos.

Look at how Eric  is holding the banjo here:



You will see what I mean about not reaching to the first position. Eric's elbow does not bend to the left at all.


Give it a try. It may feel awkward at first, but it is better to  get it correct from the beginning and it gets easier!




Comment by Sylvia on May 20, 2011 at 14:34

Hi Ian, Thank you for the tips, I have looked at yours and Eric's  videos and see what you mean. I do only play seated so I am trying to do without a strap, and it seems to be not too bad.

My banjo dosn't have an armrest but I usually wear an Aran Cardi which cushions the banjo so that I can grip it with my arm.

Practice has been a bit hit and miss this month but I'm hoping to get down to more practice this next month.



Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 21, 2011 at 0:34
Well done! I also do not play seated with a strap...however, they do stabilize the banjo a good bit even seated. I have never really liked having a strap tied to the peghead, I prefer one that starts at the tailpiece, round my neck and ends at the first free one on the bottom side of the banjo-neck. This supports the neck somewhat and helps keep it in position. I made my first one from a cord stolen from the window-shades in the dormitory at school...still there on my first Stewart!
Comment by Sylvia on May 21, 2011 at 6:31
Hi Marc,  Thank you for the advice, I have been trying ( I know how trying I can be : )  over the last few days to play without a strap, but I am going to give it a go with the strap fastened as you mentioned.  Do you think there may be any chord left in that dorm window ? Actually come to think of it I may have some in my needlework box.
Comment by thereallyniceman on May 22, 2011 at 18:48

Hi Sylvia,

Marc D (The Frenchy Van Eps) posted this picture a while ago. It may be of interest if you haven't seen it !

Comment by Sylvia on May 22, 2011 at 20:39
Hi Ian, Thank you for pointing out Marc's photo, I had misssed it..     I've downloaded it now,so that I can keep it for reference.
Comment by David Wade on May 22, 2011 at 22:19
Douglas Rogers has done astring of articles in the Federation Newsletter that may be of interest.
Comment by Sylvia on May 23, 2011 at 6:34
Hi David,  I did actually think about joining the Federation about this time last year but noticed in their 2010 advert for the Summer School that they didn't " do " Tab, only for Tenor Banjo in a Folk setting, and at that time I was learning Banjo tunes by Tab. However just the other day a Teacher of stringed instruments advised me that I should persevere with learning notation for Banjo and I am taking his advice so think perhaps I will join the Federation.I guess back numbers of the newsletter will be available ? I also like the idea of a summer school.
Comment by Liz McElwain on May 23, 2011 at 9:54

Hey Sylvia – I thoroughly recommend you (1) join the BMG Federation and (2) learn notation.  I went to the Summer School last year and, having only been playing banjo for about eight months at the time, it was admittedly a tad beyond my capabilities (putting it mildly).  But Chris Sands as a tutor was/is brilliant – an absolute privilege to have been there with him – and I got to meet some lovely people who have become friends.  I’m going again this year (in just under three weeks’ time!) and am enthusiastically working up ‘Whistling Rufus’ and ‘Cupid’s Victory’ so I can take part in the end-of-course concert.  Lots of practice then ...  Oh, and the craic is good. So – join the BMG, learn notation, and I’ll see you there this time next year.

Comment by Sylvia on May 23, 2011 at 11:34
Hi Liz,  I took the plunge and joined the Fed. this morning,   now I've really got to get down to notation.  Have a lovely time at the Summer School and hopefully see you there next year.   And " ee bah gum ah do like a bit o craik  : ) "

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