Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Finally realized I am Thinking to much

I have come to realize that I tend to think to much when I am playing and it makes things way harder then it has to be to progress my learning to play a Mandolin, I could never figure out why when I would play my jaw would start hurting and my arms from my rotator cuff down to my finger tips would all be hurting today I decided to just play and not worry about thinking I cleared my mind of all thoughts and did not worry how bad or how good something sounded i just played and I will have to say it worked because everything sounded pretty dang good.
I remember back when my dad was still alive my dad was one of those that could play multiple instruments guitar,Banjo,Mandolin,harmonica,and something that had two steel bars with a spring steel flipper thingy in between those steel bars, he could play all those and made it look easy I remember asking him several times, how he could do that play all those different instrument without looking like he was thinking about it and his response I remember was always the same (I just play I do not think about it I just play) I never really understood that until today so from now on I am just going to do like my dad did just play and not think about it .
It always amazed me how some people including my Dad just makes it look so easy like they do not have to think about what they are doing and I truly believe those of us that struggle we are thinking about it to much and to hard which makes it harder for us to progress


Tension can be one of our greatest enemies.

You may play without thinking, but don’t play thoughtlessly. :nerd_face:

In other words…it takes some thought to sound coherent.

As you play more you will find it easier to put less thought into the mechanics of it and more into what you want to do with it. Many here call it muscle memory…when you’ve done something a certain amount of times the physical part of it becomes sort of automatic.

Glad you jumped a big hurdle in your journey…


I’ve seen a couple of books recommended her on the forums that’s I’ve enjoyed reading.

The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Galley is one I’ve seen on this forum but I first introduced to in in an interview by Bryan Sutton. Apparently Sutton recommends this book because I heard another person say he was recommended to read it by Sutton. This book comes up with the concept of two selves: Self #1 - Thinker/Teller and Self #2- Doer. Self #1 wants to control and tell “Self #2” how to do if we think we don’t know who to do something. This book recommends imitating that way we are thinking about making sure we are doing things exactly right, just imitate what you see someone else (like maybe Banjo Ben) do what you are trying to do. Sorry, I’m not doing a great job passing on the book knowledge. It has a little too much tennis specific info but it’s really about learning a new skill.

The book Brainjo is written by Josh Truant, a neurologist who plays banjo. The biggest thing I got from that book is to let you ear lead you. The book says playing by ear can be learned by most people.My brother play piano by ear and I couldn’t so I thought it was just a way we were born. But I after reading Brainjo I decide to just start trying on my mandolin and it’s amazing how you can figure tunes out, mine are mostly old-time gosphel songs I’ve heard my whole life, but I’ve even figured out a few old country songs (very basic melody but it gets me really excited).

I’m really bad about overthinking my playing (and most everything else in life) as well. These books have helped me. I am definitely still working on overthinking and these 2 books helped me.

(My overthink has caused this post to take me way to long, so I’m not going to overthink and re-read for mistakes or I may never get it posted :smile: )


I think I realized once that, by the time I’m REALLY comfortable with a song, I’ve played it through a minimum of 1000 times. That’s how long it takes my brain to stop thinking about what I’m doing and just play.

Glad you had this realization. Tension is the enemy of flow.