A lot of times the desire to get good quick consumes beginner banjo players, which leads them to habitually look up tab when wanting to learn a new song. This passion and desire to learn is great because it’s essential for enjoyment and progress. However, focusing on skills outside of the realm of tab can make all the difference when you start to head to jam sessions, want to improvise, or try to write your own tunes.
5 practice tips to help you actually use and benefit from ear training when you’re just starting out.
Ear training has gotten a bad rap
When you’re first starting out on the banjo it doesn’t seem like the most efficient way to learn and it can be extremely frustrating without the right guidance, so many players avoid it, until they realize…”wait...this is how I’m actually going to get good.”
The good news is you can start training your ear skills from the moment you decide you want to learn an instrument and it can be more fun and easier than you think. Many of these tips can even be done without your banjo and by adding them into your daily routine you’ll be paving the way for a more enjoyable and well-rounded banjo journey.
When I get questions from players who are having a hard time progressing with their playing, the challenge is almost always something that could have been prevented when they were just starting out. It’s always more fun to imagine being an amazing banjo player, playing fancy things really fast, than it is to struggle through things like fingerings, timing, and soloing.
Improvising on the banjo is not as mysterious or unreachable as it may seem. There are tangible things you can practice to become a great improviser like the players you look up to and in this post I’ll share with you 3 of my top tips for getting started.
If you’re familiar with learning a folk instrument, you have most likely heard musicians refer to music as a language. And you may have seen good musicians “communicate” on stage. These musicians have mastered both understanding and speaking their chosen musical language. Playing their instrument is a way to speak their mind, share their emotions, and converse with others.
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Bennett Sullivan is a performer, composer, and teacher living in Brooklyn, NY. He has developed several music-ed apps for iOS and Android using his “Listen & Learn” method, as well as online programs such as the Practice Strategy Checklist. Bennett was recently hand-picked to play in the newest musical by Steve Martin, called “Bright Star”, which premiered at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, CA. The show has plans to go to Broadway in 2015.