Hazards of Teaching Banjo

Admittedly there aren’t many hazards here. No need for sunscreen, padding, helmets, or protective eyewear. But I have found one of the hazards of teaching banjo is that if you don’t watch it, you can easily get out of practice while you concentrate on teaching others.

In a way, it reminds me of what I tell students concerning the wearing of finger picks. I tell them you should always wear finger picks; however, you can bend the rules a little and not use them occasionally. Just be sure to not get in the habit, or you will have gotten used to not wearing them before you know it. Then, the next time you wear them, it will take a couple of days to get back in the groove.

It’s not the end of your banjo picking world to have gotten used to no picks. I’ve done it before, so I know how to fix it. To get used to not practicing when you are a teacher is not quite the same matter, though. Teaching is your livelihood, or at least part of it. Being a teacher means you must always be in good form. Maybe not always at the top of your game but still, close enough to get there quickly.

Teaching banjo doesn’t have many drawbacks. Maybe this is it – the loss of enough practice time for yourself. I must say, though, it more than offsets that loss of time to be able to network and jam with students, some of whom are quite talented musicians; well worth a trade-off!

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About Phill Gibson

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama where I work as a Systems Engineer and part-time banjo and mandolin instructor. I've been playing various instruments since my teen years. I started mandolin at about age 17 and banjo at 20. I love just about all kinds of music. In terms of banjo styles, I play Scruggs and melodic and am working on becoming more advanced with single string. I'm also working on 4-finger banjo, which is way off the beaten path. I would like to see more jazz techniques integrated into bluegrass situations; counterpoint, especially. So long-term, that's what I'm doing. I'm also very keen on astronomy, ATM (amateur telescope making), birding, christian homeschooling, martial arts, organic gardening and about 30 other distracting hobbies to a (mercifully) lesser extent.
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