Why does it seem like I am not getting any better?

Hello students.  One question that always perplexes music students is this:  Why does it seem like I am not getting any better?  If it is of any comfort, when I was first learning to play, I was asking myself the same question to the point of saying:  “I guess I won’t ever learn how to play this instrument”.   So the good news is that if I can prevail and learn how to play the banjo, then so can you.  However, the biggest lesson learned is not to give up and be persistent!

Another lesson in learning is “repetition”, remember practice and practice and practice.  It can sometimes get boring but it is the only true way you will build your skills.   There is a CAUTION!!  Don’t practice using bad habits.  For example, don’t practice your rolls without anchoring your right hand to the banjo head and never practice without your picks.  It always helps to use a metronome frequently.  Don’t try to play fast until you can play slow.  The emphasis is on quality not speed.  It comes later.

We progress in phases.  For example the first phase is the “mechanical” phase which is basically getting all the movements using your hands and foot.  Then you move into an “emellishment” phase where you are using some playing techniques such as slides, pull-off and hammer-ons.   Next you move into the “Listening phase” where you have weaned yourself off of the “tablature” and are actually beginning to “feel” the music and you hands and feet are working sychronously with your foot.  Following that is the “contribution” phase where you are actually jamming with others and having fun with your instrument and adding some of your own style and getting invited to lots of events.

What phase do you think you are in? and can you now answer the question:  Why does it seem like I am not getting any better.