Banjo playing is not for everyone, and no matter how many times some players practice, they can’t seem to make any progress. Perhaps they are not doing something correctly or are focusing on the wrong thing. But if you achieve excellence in playing the banjo, it’s a heady and wonderful feeling indeed. It’s not just innate talent – it takes a lot of time and effort to achieve a higher level of playing than most. If you want to be a successful player and would like to harness your banjo-playing potential, here are the best things you can do and practice to be a more skilled banjo player.
- Make it a point to work on your timing
One of the first things you should do if you want to perfect your skill is to approach the banjo as a rhythm instrument, in the same way a drummer handles the drums. Your primary responsibility is developing and creating a steady and stable rhythm, plus play your instrument in time. Once you have achieved this, you can concentrate on the melody and the other intricacies of playing the banjo. Simply following numbers with no thought about the timing is not the best way to improve your skills.
- Try playing without using tablature
You can also encourage yourself to play without using tablature, although you can learn techniques or songs quickly with tablature. It essentially means that you can use tablature to get the information you need, but you will only harness the skills you get from playing a particular song if you play without referring to tablature.
- Develop skills applicable to a lot of songs
If you want to improve as a banjo player, another thing you can do is develop skills applicable to a lot of songs. Make use of exercises that can help you practice your craft and do challenging drills. If you practice challenging things – more difficult than what is required to play a song you would like to learn – you can execute simple songs much better. And that’s going to be a blast!
- Practice playing in various keys
Whether you practice at home or are a performer, you should still practice playing in varying keys. If you are a beginner, doing this makes it easier to integrate the different hands skills with your musical awareness. If you play the instrument with other players, you need to have experience playing with a capo in advance. But using a capo isn’t enough, you also need to enhance your skills at playing, say, the key of D with open fingerings. Learning to play the key of D will also allow you to transpose to the keys of E and F as well, by using a capo on the second and third frets respectively. And don’t forget to learn proper banjo tuning – this also takes practice, so it’s best to get it perfectly as well.
When you practice tuning, it becomes an invaluable skill, so make it a point to develop this skill because it can be quite tricky. If you do, you can stand out among other performers and players, and you’ll get more than a few steps ahead.
Image attributed to Pixabay.com