Category Archives: Tips & Techniques

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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Banjo Chords in D Tuning

5-string bluegrass banjo players definitely prefer open G tuning to all other tunings. That said, there are a large number of possible tunings, each evoking a different mood in the listener; sometimes subtle or mysterious, other times harsh or exciting. … Continue reading

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A Taxonomy of Sloppy Playing

Sloppy playing can creep up on you before you know it, especially if you’re just starting out learning to play the banjo. As time goes on and you get more experience, you’ll start to recognize when you’re getting sloppy with … Continue reading

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Five Lessons, Yea Six, from NashCamp

Here are a few items I learned this weekend at NashCamp. Some for me, others for my students. 1) Lighten up. No, not in terms of relationships; here, I mean lightening up with my right hand. I pick pretty hard … Continue reading

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They Ought to Have a Name For It – Whack-a-Mole

Another practice / performance anomaly. This is the thing that happens when you identify a rough spot in one of your breaks. You start practicing it and isolate the offending habit to clear it up. All goes well, and you … Continue reading

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