In this video by Hughes Music Banjo we give you dozens of tips, tricks and exercises to help you increase your speed while playing the Banjo. We cover topics such as Motion Efficiency, Thumb Motion, Tension, Speed Bursts, Breathing and Excess Arm Motion.
Check out our Free Banjo Tabs resource.
okay welcome back to Jodi Hughes music and today I’m talk a little bit about your right hand and you’re not having to look at my mug today you’re looking at my Oh hand here my bony fingers in my finger picks I’ve got a brass finger pick and a silver one and I just literally picked them up off the desk over there whatever works for you and a her coat thumb pick so I want to give you just kind of some pointers some things to look out for with your right hand and this may help you increase your speed and your accuracy I’m just going to give you some thoughts that I give students about right hand stuff so first and foremost what we’re looking for here is that the main kind of power generator should be these knuckles here in your hand and it’s kind of like making a fist so to speak and what you don’t want is you don’t want to pick up and I tell the kids I say don’t make your fingers jump hurdles
You know they’re not supposed to come up like this they’re cook they’re pushing and that’s right there is where the power comes from if your fingers are doing this coming up then what that’s doing is it’s it’s going to slow you down over time because your finger is going to be coming up and then they have to come back down the way I would explain this to you is your hand really think of it about in an You know sometimes visuals help think about it like a rubber band your fingers come in boom and they bounce back there’s an elastic force there it’s not like your fingers come in and you’ve got to use all this force to get them back out it’s kind of like elastic so really one of the best things you can do to practice the right finger motion I’ll show you real quick hopefully you can see this I’m gonna hit my pinky sorry my poor finger yeah and I’m gonna bounce back to the string as fast as possible yeah and stop the string with my pick and this exercise of hitting the strings and coming back quickly back can increase your speed and accuracy because a lot of times what’s happening is people are hitting the string and going up or getting You know slapping the string this kind of stuff you don’t want you can hear the string noise so I urge you to practice just taking the pig back strike the string come back quick stop the string and in fact these exercises are great for training your fingers to instantly come back.
I read this many years ago one of the reasons that the Spanish guitar players are so fast is because they practice doing this a lot how fast your fingers come out so that’s kind of what you’re doing there is your fingers have to come back quickly they have to go back to the right spot so we don’t want them to come back and end up way over here see how far I am away from the strings so this exercise of hitting a string come back back that’s catching your finger nice motion and notice that I’m not picking up so think in these bigger joints snap years ago I took a few classical guitar lessons and a classical guitar it’s pretty quiet so they urge their students to do this a lot they gotta get a lot more sound out of their instrument than we do necessarily so that’s one of the things another thing with your thumb to kind of watch is this business you don’t swing wide like this this is something that a lot of people don’t know but really your thumb is all the way it’s it stashed all the way back here near your wrist here so that motion should be your thumb just follows like gravity it’s just don’t think of an attached here that’s wrong what we call wrong body mapping those of you that are technically involved here it’s more back here so attached so high you basically just want the thumb to come down and once again you can even practice this just down and come back and getting there quicker that motion is boring but trust me it helps that way you’re not wasting a lot of time.
This is in the beginning when we’re playing slow these things don’t matter so much but when we play fast you really you really have to have really good technique and even this is a good exercise it’s like don’t even worry about the sound just don’t pick and watch your fingers you know we really want you to get to the point where your fingers are not moving much the faster you can do this I mean the less motion you can do that in the fast you’re gonna be able to do this another thing to watch for is tension here is a lot of times people were like this thorough you can almost see their teeth you can’t see mine but I’m gritting my teeth and you can just kind of see the tension in my hand I’m ready to strangle the strings make sure your hand is relaxed so a lot of times I’ll tell students You know play a little bit and if you find your hand tightening up just shake it out get it loose the more relaxed you are the faster gonna be on the place.
So you need to keep your hand nice and loose just think just kind of empty the the weight of it so to speak so those are some exercises another thing that’s really good exercise for you is let’s just take a forward reverse roll other than just doing the roll is to do what I call speed burst and I think of this like sprinting You know splendors they practice a very specific way in order to be able to spread so fast you’re trying to be the Yuuzhan bolt of the banjo right so rather than just go try to play three notes as fast as you can and once again I’m just deadening the strings you don’t even have to make a sound but and just do them and then go to four notes and just burst of speeds and you can even practice it like this just doing like the roll slow and then coming out fast so it’s like you’re doing slow boom fast slow fast and just really bursting the speed up really quickly yeah real quick don’t don’t try to like sustain it one of the things I think that kind of happens is people they have a lot of tension in their hand and then they try to play faster and faster and they try to sustain it and it falls apart so just short bursts at the beginning just and when I make it music here I understand that but it’s just fundamentals for your right hand until your your hand gets used to what does it feel like to play faster and always tell people it’s kind of like You know weightlifting you’re never gonna know what 80 pounds feels like until you try to pick it up you can’t put it in your mind exact right so this is kind of like that you’re just trying to get the feel of what does it mean to play faster how does it feel what’s happening in my body.
What’s happening in my hand another thing that you can’t see that I’m just gonna go ahead and tell you I talk a lot to my students about and I always tell them I’m like man I can see it in your face that you are just tight and you’re you have a lot of tension in your body is to breathe so You know before you do this maybe just take a nice deep breath and then relax and and play You know your breath has a lot to do with the tension in the body if you’re holding your breath then it’s gonna you’re gonna hold the tension in your hands so try not to do that here’s another piece of advice that I give my beginner students as you get more advanced you’re not this doesn’t apply to you because you already know I mean look at the mark on my banjo I move my hand around but here’s something on another piece of advice I would give you if you’re just starting out is it’s super critical for you to find a spot on your instrument that helps you play better so whether that be here whether that be up here I would say don’t get too far up but find a spot on your banjo and try to memorize it one thing that I find that happens was doing some time is one time they pick up Banjo the hand is here one time they pick up the band room here one time it’s over here and then they wonder why they can’t get any accuracy right so the reason that we’re doing this is because in the beginning I think the less variables you have to deal with the better your practicing is going to go.
So You know even if you if you want you could put a piece of tape there you can mark it with a pen so you can do whatever you want but say okay that’s gonna be my spot I play better there that’s where I’m gonna make sure that my hand is at every single time I pick up this banjo and the reason being is because your hands going to get accustomed to doing the roll there and then if the next day you’re way over here it’s gonna feel different you see so I think these things are important in the beginning once again half after you’ve been playing a while You know it doesn’t matter you can move your hand where you want but in the beginning I think the less variables you have the better off you’re gonna be it’s gonna really help you out as far as your accuracy goes and speaking of that and I know if already to address this but just watch your emotions You know don’t make big motions like this your fingers jumping up and down on the trip alone so to speak right see You know stuff like this if you see your fingers doing this okay lots of motion lots of slapping lots of string noise that’s bad try to get it in tight and if you watch me play hopefully you can see this that when I play my fingers they stay really close to the string you never see my fingers come out to here never so in close that’s why I get I talk so much about the elastic force so when you hit they bounce back right I’m just gonna play a little bit and you can watch my own fingers You know hopefully you’ll get something out of that I don’t know what but maybe you will [Music] other things is make sure your suck your sound is good like some things that can happen is what if you play that stuck out like a sore thumb make these notes nice and even make them pretty that’s good for like super slow playing is to sit around and practice working on your tone what I’m gonna leave you with a couple more comments is that I think one of the big mistakes that a lot of people make an include myself I would
I was reading things and I started kind of almost believe it myself is You know some people will tell you if you sit around in practice you guys sit around and just keep practicing slow and eventually you have perfect technique and eventually be able to play fast but I’ve realized over the years that I just don’t like that idea is not how I learn how to play and I don’t think that you’re gonna get faster that way it goes back to my weight lifting it ban a kind of view point here which is if you want to lift a hundred pounds you’ve got to get under the hundred pound bar and you’ve got to get your fingers moving quicker and the only way to do that is to try to get them to move fast you can’t get there by playing slow a a couple other things hopefully you can see this from here nothing to watch is this kind of business where some people will put their arm into it [Music] don’t move your horn the reason being is watch this now move my arm look every time you move your hand your horn sorry every time you move your arm your picks they’re in different spots so keep your arm at the same spot for now in the end like I said you’ll be able to move your hand around but in the beginning just stick to a spot and stay there because that’s really going to help your accuracy out I’ll go over the speed thinks just one more time so speed bars it’s beepers just short bursts of speed you can even do two notes and then try to do it faster and then next thing is to get your fingers bouncing back properly stop the strings faster and faster even your thumb if that bouncing back motion that’s gonna teach you also relax too because your tight relaxed tight place thank thanks yeah it teaches you the right motions as far as the fingers and the elasticity of your fingers and being flexible so hopefully that’s gonna help you a little bit I’ll give you some more pieces of advice but like if you were to come to me for a lesson these are the types of things I would talk to you about as far as your right hand goes yeah I know it’s a lot to think about and I would dare say you know don’t every time you pick up your answer though sit there and worry about your fingers every single minute you know sometimes it’s good to practice in front of a mirror maybe video yourself I’ve gotten a lot out of videoing myself You know a video but I saw for YouTube and even myself people through making these videos I learn a lot through this so video your fingers just like I’m doing right now and maybe you can figure out something just from watching it you know see what you’re doing wrong another thing I sometimes have students to do this business to scrape the hip and you have to stop that too because then you get this kind of sound so that’s once again you’re making too wide of emotion that this is gonna train your fingers to bounce back and all the way that or sometimes people do this business once again the motion is too wide so these exercises are bouncing back they would permit that okay so hope you’ve gotten something out of this please leave me a comment about your own right hand struggles what roles are you having trouble with what songs are you having trouble with getting faster I’d love to hear about your personal journey but please subscribe if you have found this useful I’m gonna keep uploading videos you guys take care
More Banjo Articles
Bluegrass Banjo Right Hand Technique