My Banjo

I am learning how to play the banjo. My teacher is a wonderful man; patient, funny and supportive. Please send him ear plugs. Learning to play was not on my radar, but when I picked up Roger’s old banjo, I thought “why not?. Maybe it was a way for me to feel closer to him after he died. How on earth would I ever learn to play the banjo? My confidence level hovered around zero. I needed a teacher. I didn’t want to be a beginner, but I got humble real fast. My fingers were complete strangers to the chords. This finger here and next finger there… the result resembled a crab.When I strummed it was obvious that my fingers were not feeling the music. I kept showing up at my lesson time and begging to be let in.

Every great banjo player was at one time, a beginner, just like me. Bela Fleck was not born with a banjo in his hands and even Earl Scruggs had to learn to play banjo. That’s what we humans do; we learn and we practice! I have tried not to practice mistakes, so I play slow before I play fast. I place each finger carefully, press the strings down and strum. I do this over and over until my fingers remember where to go and my brain knows what sound I should hear. Then I do it faster and still correctly. I have practiced a lot of mistakes over my lifetime, and wondered why things just didn’t get better. I have practiced choosing men who were big mistakes, and self hate when these doomed relationships self-destructed. Practice can never make life perfect . After awhile even wrong notes and clumsy technique can sound O.K. When you hear the correct notes and timing you finally realize your version is a mistake and sounds awful. How did I learn to play life so wrong? No one gave me lessons to help me play well and beautifully. The lessons I was taught protected the status quo, and I never knew I had my own music inside me.

So now I can play a few songs on my banjo, my practice is about using the equipment and my new skills to finally make music. It feels amazing to play “Mary had a Little Lamb”. “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” is just around the curve (of planet Earth) but I will get there.  Bluegrass here I come. I don’t mind the slow going on my banjo skills, because I am very concerned about getting it right. I have found the right teacher. Thank you John! Roger is probably laughing at me. I know he is proud of me and so am I.

1 thought on “My Banjo”

  1. And I am proud of you too! I think this is such a wonderful way to honor both Roger’s memory and yourself. There is shared life in that banjo.
    Practice makes progress possible, and that is what life is about. Looking forward to hearing that banjo in person soon 🙂


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