Like Riding a Bike

A while back I had a student say to me: “I wish playing the banjo was like riding a bike where you never forget it!”

While that’s mostly true – we have to continue to practice, or we’ll get way too rusty – I can think of one area of musical practice that doesn’t seem to diminish nearly as quickly: basic chords.

Among my students are both those that have had previous experience as guitar players, and those that have not. If someone has played guitar, even if it was many years ago as a youngster, their progress with basic chords is noticeably quicker. And very importantly, they also are quick on being able to change chords from one to the other as well.

Now if only we could store up practice, statically, rather than it being so dynamic and falling away from us so quickly. That has its downside as well, though – think of how hard it would be to correct bad habits if that were the case!

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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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