Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Ever Have an “Off Day?”

Does this happen to anyone else? You pick up your banjo one day and for some reason, you just can’t make it sound as good as you did before? Like you’ve lost ground in your playing ability? I consider myself a beginner banjo player. I’m following Ben’s online lessons in order and I’ve worked my way through Cripple Creek, You Are My Sunshine, Worried Man Blues, and now I’m just starting into Ben’s Hop, Skip and Jump pull-off study. I try to play everyday for at least 30 minutes. (I occasionally miss a day but not very often.) Sometimes I’m able to sneak in an hour. It always takes a few run-throughs to get my fingers warmed up, but after a couple of minutes, I’m usually pretty comfortable in my playing. But sometimes I just have an off day. It’s like, Man, I could play this song really well, and now all of a sudden, it’s like it’s the first time I ever played it. What happens? Why do I feel like I’ve taken a step backwards? Is there something I can do to physically play better or is it some kind of mental thing? Anyway, I’m curious to see if this ever happens to other players and what y’all do about it. Thanks!

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Yep, it happens to everyone. I can’t give any advice, but I would encourage you to keep going. If you have an off day, go watch an old video of yourself from a year ago (or however long you’ve been playing) and that may encourage you. If you keep at it you will get better even if it seems you’re going nowhere

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All. The. Time.

At camp back in March, Katy taught us a cool little trick that actually works a fair amount of time. Do jumping jacks. She said she was in a cold place once and couldn’t get her fingers to work right. She went to another room and did a bunch of jumping jacks. When she picked her banjo up again, she was playing better than ever!

I’m sure it has to do with getting the blood flowing and just warming up. Can’t hurt to try. :slight_smile:

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I play mandolin and guitar, and sometimes fiddle around with my banjo, and yes I definitely know what you mean. I’m about intermediate on mandolin and some days my fingers just won’t go where they want to go. Not sure why that happens, I was wondering myself.

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That’s really interesting. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but I will next time I’m in someplace chilly

Yes all the time Dave. I call them rest day’s. Time to give the grey matter some timeout to process all the lessons you have been working on.

It’s common for a beginner to feel they are not moving forward, making progress. Just work through the lessons at your own pace and know it’s ok to go back a revisit a lesson multiple times. As you gain experience and knowledge things will begin to get easier and fall in place.

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Yes :wink:

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Um yeah. You’ll get used to it :slight_smile: Don’t fret :smirk:

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LOL! She said “Don’t fret” :laughing::laughing::laughing::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::crazy_face:

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Thanks, all, for weighing in. I hadn’t thought of doing jumping jacks! I’ll give it a try. Even if it doesn’t improve my playing, it would do me some good to get my lazy butt up and so some exercise! :wink: Again, thank you all for the encouragement. Onward and upward!

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I have off days, and have noticed that about cold fingers. Like if I come in from outside, I run my hands under slightly warm water, and them move them around a bit, and it help amazingly.

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I knew I could count on you Mark :slight_smile: I sure can pick 'em :smirk:

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I keep checking in to see if someone will post, “Nope. Not that I recall. Must just be you.”

I have off moments, days, weeks… months. Years? It happens. Good advice above. I like the jumping jacks, although I think burpees might even be better. Just think… If I did that during one of my off years, I’d be fit!

Full disclosure: I find that burpees are not good unless you have really young knees.

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The only burpees I get are the ones right after I have a big plate of chicken and dumplin’s.

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A funny thing is sometimes if I don’t have time to play for a few days, it seems like I play better the next time I pick it up. Then there are the days nothing gels. Yes, happens a lot.
I have found when I move on to play the next new song, when I then go back I can play the “older” songs better…usually anyways.

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Yes yes yes. When I take a day or two off, yeah, I notice that when I start up again, I’m playing better. I wonder why that is.

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