How do I develop my own style of playing?

How do I develop my own style of playing?  This is a question that any serious banjo player will have to ask themselves at some point in time when they get tired of playing “tablature”.   In other words, you are getting tired of playing the way “someone else” plays.  Your particular style is based on several factors including the design of your hands.    So what exactly is a style?  WOW.

This can be a tricky question depending on the artist/player.  In the most simple form, each banjo player has their own style.  However other factors include techniques and methods used to accomplish the unique sound.  For example, Earl Scruggs had his style (3 finger) and so does Ralph Stanley (3 finger), Bill Keith (melodic), Don Reno (single string) and the list goes on.  These styles are really the “approach” to playing the banjo, because some player use all three approaches in their “style”.

Some banjo players develop their style by inventing some notable “licks”, such a JD Crowe, that are incorporated into their style of playing.

So back to the question of “How do I develop my own style of playing?”  The short answer is learning to play the basics of the banjo and then get rid of your tablature and start improvising the notes based on chord progressions of the song and how feel about the tone of melody.  The long answer is a lot of hard work and determination that will result in a unique style that others will enjoy when they hear you play.  Good luck as you continue to improve and work out your own style.