Comment by Pär Engstrand on May 6, 2019 at 18:57

Just summed up the courage to record a video. It's a work in progress, with lots of mistakes.

Would love your comments on how to play it better, tips and tricks etc. I am here to learn! :-)

Comment by Jody Stecher on May 6, 2019 at 19:41

You have a good strong attack and are not afraid of the banjo. That part is excellent.

I suggest you do two things improve. I think each will double the quality of your playing.

1) concentrate on the flow of the melody. This primarily a mental activity.

2) but there is a physical technique that helps accomplish the first suggestion. And that is alternate fingering in the right hand. Many times you are playing rapid notes twice or three times in succession with your index finger.  This creates a stiffness in the rhythmic flow. If you concentrate on #1 number #2 is likely to fall in place naturally. If you practice refraining from repeating strokes with the same finger #1 will fall into place naturally.

Comment by Pär Engstrand on May 6, 2019 at 19:54

Thanks a bunch, Jody! I was thinking I do take great care playing with alternate fingering, but I have probably been practising sloppily. Or I just need to practise alternating index and middle finger more evenly....

Yes, highlighting the melody is a real weak point of mine! I can almsot feel it in my whole body when playing, that I don't do it enough. Maybe it has something to do with me being a double bass player....

Comment by Jody Stecher on May 6, 2019 at 19:59

Being a double bass player accounts for the strong right hand!  

Comment by Pär Engstrand on May 6, 2019 at 20:21

Probably. Or maybe. I have mainly been playing with a bow for the last 20 years...

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 6, 2019 at 20:59

Well, you sound like a banjo player, so there's nothing wrong with that. As for alternating RH fingering, I often alternate thumb and index. I believe Joe Morley did the same. I don't always do it, but many times do. It has more of an impact, for me, than alternating index and middle. Worth at least trying to see if it's for you. I think most people alternate index and middle, though.

If I'm critical I'd say that, like most players, you are playing music that is beyond your technical level at the moment. This is understandable, as you are an experienced musician and want to get to the good tunes as soon as possible. I suggest you step back for a while, work through Emile Grimshaw's books. They will prepare you for anything. How To Excell On The Banjo has many wonderful short studies, very tuneful, and great for your technique. 

Comment by Pär Engstrand on May 6, 2019 at 21:15

Thank you very much, Rob. I've been thinking that myself, at moments. But being an experienced musician, I tend to ignore the reality of what I actually can play, thinking, "I should be able to play this", if you know what I mean. It's really good and helpfull to hear it from someone else.

I have been looking at the Grimshaw "How to Excell..." but just a bit. I will spend more time playing studies. Maybe also the "daily exercises" in the Morley book. A bit of scales wouldn't hurt either, I think....

The good thing is that from next week I have two banjo students, so I will have to sit down, play and "master" the basics.

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 6, 2019 at 21:26

Good luck!

Comment by carrie horgan on May 8, 2019 at 7:24

Well done - that is a feat of memorisation!  I find with classic banjo tunes with different parts that it is hard to keep the pace going - I tend to slow down and speed up.  When I get my zither banjo I am going to try and find some shorter, slower pieces so that I can relax a bit more!

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 8, 2019 at 8:54

Carrie - download Ellis's Advanced Banjo and Zither Banjo from this website. From page 68 onwards there are some fine easier pieces, and before that lots of technical workouts. But there's no reason not to play the Grimshaw studies on it either. 

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