Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Monday, April 30, 2007

And the difficulties of learning the banjo

Anybody know how to get my hand to widen by, oh, say at least half an inch? It would be terribly helpful in playing the banjo. As it is, my hand simply cannot fret for both the A and the low F sharp at the same time without some pain, so my hands are kind of skipping over the neck of the banjo a bit. This is *not* in accord with my banjo instructor's dictum that we are trying to be lazy about this. I'm getting smoother, but my hand has to move somewhat more to get the same fingerings.

On the other hand, I remind myself that it's like sewing. I have sewed at least a portion of my clothing ever since I was 12, so I tend to "get" patterns, and have been known to ignore the directions that come with them. (We will not, at this moment, discuss the alterations I have had to make in a pattern I worked on this weekend.) But it's not magic. It's practice. More than 20 years worth. It's that jumper I sewed in 8th grade where I couldn't get the buttons to sit right, and the series of identical dresses I helped make for my sister when she went on mission (along with a set for me to take to college). It's the experience of designing and sewing from a young age. And those skills take a while to learn.

So, well, I figure I'm still working on the equivalent of the coverup I made at age 12 that had only two pattern pieces. It'll be a while yet before I can make the musical equivalent of a button-down top, but I'm learning.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh you will certainly get there. Remember, I know Matt has mentioned this before about taking the piece s-l-o wly; even if you CAN play most of it to tempo; those parts you have trouble fingering will improve much faster. Yougogirl!

4/30/2007 7:29 PM  
Blogger Don said...

I'm sure learning will be difficult. All learning that really is learning involves difficulty and expansion of our abilities and/or consciousness. I hope you decide to persist. We need more banjo players in our world. I love to hear banjo music. It has such a delightful quality.

4/30/2007 7:56 PM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

QP, Thanks for the encouragement. I'm getting there, and the skipping about is getting more accurate. I'd just like to be able to do this "the lazy way" rather than constantly changing fingerings. (especially on eighth notes, as at the end of "Skip to My Lou", although for now, that lot is unavoidable.)

Don, yes, I suspect that if it were too easy, I might get bored (although maybe not. I'm totally bowled away by being able to make a song come out of my banjo...)

This may turn into a blog post of its own after it's marinated a bit, but I think we need more DIY music in general, whether on the banjo, Irish harp, plastic recorder, or even kazoo and washboard. (And I like banjo music too, which is how I wound up wishing my hands would get just a little bit wider.)

5/01/2007 6:46 AM  

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