Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

A fly in the lampshade

I am like a fly in the lampshade when it comes to practicing. I keep jumping all over the place from one thing to the next. I have to correct that this year and try to be much more structured. Does anyone else suffer from that affliction?


I think a certain amount is normal and healthy as you gravitate to what you WANT to learn.

However, the learning tracks - beginning to advanced is a great new feature Ben has laid out for us - the Way of Banjo Trail - hehe. Ben can use that with MY blessings - lol.

Seriously, I hope you like the site and maybe pick a lesson in order first THEN a lesson or song of choosing to stay on track.

Good luck


I’m a bit the opposite…I have entire nights disappear on me when I’m zeroed in on learning a tune or break. I have to remind myself to play other things once in a while to loosen back up and get some variety in finger placement.

At present, I’m comfortable with a list of 3 things to work toward playing…usually I struggle with finding what I want to work on next…back when I was bands or had projects to play for the material to learn was pretty well set out…Now that I’m just picking at home, deciding what to learn next can be a challenge in itself…sometimes it might take a couple days of listening before my interest is peaked enough to get back at it. .


Hi Keith, Welcome to Banjo Ben’s Forum.

To respond to your query I think when I was a beginner I too had a tendency to jump aimlessly from one project to the next. But as the years have past I have learned to structure my study/practice sessions to focus on the stuff I don’t know or cant play well.

It would seem that every tune I have learned has one or two licks that causes me to pause, loose concentration or creates a train wreck. These are the licks and phrases I focus on. I highlight these in TablEdit and play them over and over in a loop. Starting out at a low speed and gradually build speed up over time.

I would also encourage you to work through Ben’s learning track. These were not available when I was a beginner but I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work through these during the website BETA testing phase before the site went live.

I suffer from this when I’m trying to force myself to learn something that’s not interesting. For example, I created a chord chart and XL macro spreadsheet as a type of flash card game to help me learn where all of the chords are up and down the neck. I still haven’t used those tools the way I intended. I’m going to try to force myself to do that in the new year. I know it’ll make me a much better player. It’s just not as fun as playing stuff I already know, or learning a song I like.


Fly in the lampshade is a good way to describe it. I’m a newbie and I was overwhelmed with all the lessons that are offered. I watched a few of the videos that describe the webpage features and those really helped. I’m planning on working through the lesson series in a more or less organized approach. But to keep it interesting, I’ll pick out some new tunes to learn along the way. Mix it up to improve my technique and learn new tunes. I also appreciate the music theory lessons. So far, so good!


When trying to learn a tune I normally play it so much that I am sick of it by the time I actually learn it. That is probably not a good way to practice, so maybe it’s not that terrible to jump around a little.


Some turns are like that. This is mostly why I spend most of my practice time working on the lick or the phrase that’s causing me grief. That way when you put it all together the tune still remains fresh.

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Great Advice Archie! Although as I am still a relative Newbie… most every tune requires that flow… for the song.

Somethimes, I find that I can play “the lick” but actually coming back out of it is a “mental block” where I pause.

Come to think of it :thinking: I also can struggle as I approach “the lick” too.

I find this to happen when I approach “melodic style” breaks… as they still don’t come naturally to me.

Ok that makes sense. So how do you fix that problem ?

Easy you learn to play the licks before and after the problem phrase and gradually expand the phrased both ends as you go.

I used to have a mental block about playing any tune from beginning to end. So instead of starting to learn the tune from the beginning I would start in the middle, other times I would start with the ending. and work backwards towards the beginning. This may seem a strange way to learn a tune but if you think about it by staring at the end and working your way towards the beginning as you learn the tune your playing towards everything you have learned and practiced so your less likely to have to mental block and have to stop to think what comes next, This process doesn’t work all the time but it does cut down the train wrecks significantly.

This helped me a lot working from TAB arrangements where I didn’t have a video lesson to help.

Ben lesson’s have helped me break free of those gremlins. Most tunes I work on now I can play through to the end and find I am able to keep going when my playing falters. In short it’s helped me to relax and build my self confidence.

I too have problems with Melodic phrases, but I have the same anxieties learning some of the more advanced Scruggs licks. The good thing is you can break these down into smaller pieces and build on what you know.