Welcome to Banjo Bens Forum. First off let me just say I know exactly what your experiencing right now. The good news is your here and Banjo Ben has lot’s of video lessons to help get you on track. once your done reading this jump over to the beginners learning track and work your way through Ben’s leaning track. In that lesson plan Ben explains where to place your fingers how to make chord shapes and a whole bunch of other stuff to set you on your journey. At this time Ben is currently in Israel but I am sure when he gets back he will want to address your queries in person.
Lets take a look at the point’s you raise.
Are you pressing the strings too hard ? Probably yes, I did at first, one of the first things you’ve got to endure is the pain. Until your fingers have grown calluses (hard skin pads) on your finger tips you will experience pain in your finger tips.
Are your fingers too far from the frets ? Ben covers this on one of his videos in the learning track.
I can’t get my fingers where they need to be. For this one Patents, Perseverance and Practice is what’s needed Lot’s of it. Work at it and things will start to fall into place
Feels awkward and I can only play for about 5 minutes and my shoulder starts burning. Sounds about right, you need to build up your shoulder muscles this takes time, Play for five minutes, rest for five minutes and repeats infinitum. The more you practice the longer you will be able to support the neck. Make sure your strap is fitted correctly and supporting the weight of the banjo.
On the topic of teacher advice, In my personal experience (ten years) I have yet to come across two teachers who agree on how to teach banjo. The Banjo Hangout is full of wannabe teachers constantly arguing about who is top dog. I have listened to all their opinions and grown tired listening to their rhetoric and settled on Ben’s approach. The best teachers don’t debate they get on with the job of teaching. Ben is a great teacher who was taught by a great teacher. I trust him to deliver on his promises so much so I signed up as a life member. Learning to play the banjo takes time, learn to enjoy the learning process. Don’t be impatient or your will soon become frustrated.