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When I asked him that he just gave me a big smile and patted me on the shoulder as if I already knew the answer. By then other people started coming around seeking his attention and that was that
When I started playing the banjo I realized pretty quickly that the big picture boiled down to learning how to play the basic "bump dit-ty" strum while changing chords. Everything else involved was nothing more than the application and expansion of that basic skill set. This meant I could take the training concepts I had picked up in the karate dojo and apply them to the banjo.
The old timers I met agreed with me about the frailing stroke being the core technique of the style, but they also stressed the importance of rhythm. "It's the rhythm, kid. That's got to stay the same no matter what happens"
They also pointed out something that I like to jokingly refer to as the number one rule of folk music: "If you are in the rhythm of the song and following the chord progression it's hard to hit a wrong note."
Armed with this information I was able to get to work and start building up my chops. I wasn't mimicking the playing of another banjo player by trying to memorize the individual finger movements of a repertoire list. I was applying the basic skills and discovering my own voice as I went along. I wound up blending the discipline of my martial arts training with the sense of creative freedom my mother had instilled in me when I was growing up.
In this book we are going to take a look at these concepts and talk about how you can develop a personalized practice routine and skill set that you can use to "free up" your banjo playing in jam sessions and solo performances.
Come on, grab your banjo and let's get to work.