More realistic banjo practice equals better results

More Realistic Banjo Practice

Are you practicing your songs at home, and no matter how much you practice you’re still falling apart when the heat is on at your local jam?

One reason you MIGHT make more mistakes at the jam session than at home is because your banjo practice sessions don’t resemble a real life jam.  What do I mean?  Well, at a jam session, you must have the ability to jump into songs COLD; there isn’t time to warm up to a song and rehearse it. Once one song ends, it’s time to move into the next. 

The singer may look at you and say KICK IT OFF!…and you must be ready; sorry, no time to practice your breaks or backup at that moment.  Today, I’m showing you a simple practice technique to better equip you for the next jam.  Yes, You WILL be prepared!!

How to Prepare?

1)Pick four songs that you know.  It doesn’t matter what songs; however, preferably choose something that’s easy for you.  Don’t pick anything at the top of your abilities, nor something you learned recently.  Make sure it is something you’ve memorized, that you don’t need a TAB or sheet music for.  The less thinking it requires to play, the better.

2)Practice jumping from song to song COLD and RANDOMLY.  This must be done COLD and RANDOMLY.  A music jam is random and doesn’t have a set list.  Yes, there is a given repertoire and some of it’s predictable, but the order of the songs change from one night to the next. 

3)Don’t try to play ENTIRE SONGS, you only want to play four measures of one song before jumping into the first four measures of the next song.   Practicing entire songs isn’t going to help you with the skill of starting songs COLD and moving from one to another without warming up to them.

An example:

Take the first four measures of something like “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”, start it and end at measure four; then, start another one, let’s say “Cripple Creek.”  Next, end that song at measure four and start “Old Joe Clark”, or something similar.  

4)Once you can do this with easy songs, pick progressively more difficult songs.  When you feel at ease with simpler repertoire, songs that require completely different styles are good.  In the video, I demonstrate a melodic style song, then a single-string one, and then one with banjo rolls.  The possibilities are endless with songs, rolls, and techniques.

Here is my FREE BANJO LESSON video where I demonstrate all of this:

I’ll leave you with some final thoughts-the more your music practice sessions resemble a REAL LIFE jam, the better you’ll perform at jams.  Try regularly incorporating RANDOMNESS into your practice sessions, whether that’s songs, rolls, or ear training.  

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Jody Written by:

Professional Musician of 27 years. I've played Banjo and Acoustic Guitar on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry, and The Ryman Auditorium. I've also played in six different countries.

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