Way back in October, I talked about backward rolls in this post: http://banjoblogger.com/banjo-rolls-the-backward-roll/ . This time we are going to bring out a melody on the first string, and build on the techniques introduced in the first post.
This first exercise has us picking the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th strings using a backward roll. The thing that makes this exercise trickier than the previous examples, is the fact that the thumb plays the 3rd and 5th strings. Practice this exercise until you can play it without looking at the TAB or the frets. Once you can play it smoothly take some time and listen to what you are playing. Are all the notes equal in volume? Is the first string as loud as the 2nd and 3rd strings? Are the notes evenly spaced? Before moving to the next exercise, take the time to practice the first exercise and get it down really good.
Have a listen here: [audio:Backward Roll 2-1.mp3]
The next exercise gets your left hand moving around a bit and has the melody on the first string – so pick clearly and cleanly. To save moving around the fretboard too much, use your left hand index finger for the 2nd fret, your ring finger on the 4th fret and your pinky for the 5th fret. This will help to develop more speed and create more finger independence at the same time.
Press play to hear this one: [audio:Backward Roll 2-2.mp3]
Practicing the backward roll is a good way to improve your hand strength, plus backward rolls can be used to great effect in some situations. You can play some neat runs using backward rolls so experiment and always play you best – good enough IS NOT good enough.