Category Archives: Tips & Techniques

Should I Always Wear My Finger Picks When Playing the 5-String Banjo?

When I first learned to play the five-string banjo (not the second time), I read the admonitions to always wear your finger picks. I kept to this rather faithfully, but there were a few occasions when I would just pick … Continue reading

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The Good Idea Fairy

Playing the mandolin, or banjo, as we have it in our modern society, is a fairly complex process. As such, it, like all complex systems, is susceptible to visits from the Good Idea Fairy. You may well have seen this … Continue reading

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5 Balances in Your Music

All of life is a series of balances. At least, that’s what I think. I often say that in response to discussions of complex topics, as though it is the be-all and end-all of the subject. In reality, I do … Continue reading

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Strength, Accuracy, and Speed

If you’re the type of musician who just likes to grab your instrument and start playing without much analysis of techniques, you probably won’t get much from this post. It’s a very in-depth look at what you are really asking … Continue reading

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Getting Good Feedback

As you progress in playing the banjo, your skill level will increase. Simple enough. But realize that that increase in skill level doesn’t come just as a result of your having practiced for a long time. You also need feedback; … Continue reading

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Tales of My Picking Demise were Greatly Exaggerated

I didn’t realize until a friend told me the other day, that I have left people in the Blogosphere hanging indefinitely in regards to my banjo-injured arm. Long story short: it’s back to normal! Long story long: As you may … Continue reading

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Wastin’ Time

Every once in a while (I’d say, once a day for a few minutes) try pushing yourself with practice. Don’t worry about playing sloppily, or too fast, or too crazy-sounding. Push some kind of an envelope in your banjo life! … Continue reading

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Left-hand Techniques Are Like…

Or, I should say ‘Fretting Hand techniques’. Lefties use the right hand for these moves, obviously. After learning the basic rolls and a few chords, students are ready to move on to several other topics, one of which involves fretting … Continue reading

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Quitting While You're Behind

Imagine you are going to a regional bluegrass festival (That would the the Tennessee Valley Old-Time Fiddlers Convention in Athens, Alabama for me). You hear some young banjo player picking out an incredible set of licks and you think to … Continue reading

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Increasing Speed with Single String Style

Since returning from NashCamp a few weeks ago, I’ve been more diligent with two things. One, I’ve been more structured in my practice, allotting about one third of my time to each of three categories: playing songs I already know, … Continue reading

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