A Great Way to Improve Your Banjo Playing
We are all trying to become better banjo players – right? I know I’m always reaching for that next level. Sometimes though, it seems as if I am stuck and can’t move ahead. When this happens I like to go back to the basics and just play some music and not worry about learning anything specific. Jamming is the best way to challenge yourself and have have some fun at the same time. Don’t worry – this kind of jamming doesn’t mean you have to go out and join a band or anything like that. Grab your iPod or dig through your CDs and presto – you have a band that will put up with you, and let you practice the same song over and over.
Now that you have a band, it’s time to learn to play with this band. If you’ve never played with other musicians before this is a great way to get you feet wet. Pick a song that you know well, and by knowing it well, I mean that you can play it by memory and without mistakes. Get your music player of choice set up and press play; play along with the music and be sure that you are fitting in. If you are having trouble figuring out a part – just back up and try again. That’s the beauty of this band, they will play anywhere, anytime and they don’t get tired. Listen and try to figure out the licks you hear – you’ll discover a lot of things you won’t learn from TAB.
Have fun – I learned to play music with the help of a pile of records and eight track tapes. Spending hours a day playing along with these recordings taught me how to play in a band, and when I got asked to join a band when I was 13, I already had a few years of experience playing “with the beatles”. Give it a try, your timing will be improved and you will learn a few new tricks.
If you are looking for a few good CDs to play with, I recommend trying the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s – Will the Circle be Unbroken series. You’ll get to work with Earl Scruggs, Vassar Clements, Doc Watson, Johnny Cash and Jimmy Martin, to name a few. These three releases are full of classic songs, and have a killer lineup of players to learn from. You can also buy all six Cds in one collection – it takes up a lot less space on the shelf