Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

”I couldn’t do that yesterday.”

Hi all,
As I’ve posted elsewhere, I’m picking up clawhammer banjo, and have been at it about 2-3 days. As someone who’s played Scruggs-style for a long time, it’s similar but different. That is, the left-hand fingerboard stuff is familiar (although that’s not my focus right now), the right-hand (picking) stuff is wildly new.

An online video I found said something interesting. To paraphrase, “muscle memory learning happens while we sleep.”

I was skeptical, but after a day or two of practicing a completely new right-hand technique, maybe it does! Two days ago, I was trying to hit individual strings with my middle fingernail in a hammer motion, and was completely unable to. Today, I kinda can! Not perfectly, but there was definite improvement.

Do others, on other instruments, find they improve “overnight”?


Learning the playing of anything usually happens in little jumps and set-backs.

It’s like a staircase…you’re at a level for a while, shoot up for a bit, then at that level for a while…and .we sometimes fall down the stairs

It’s a normal journey that has peaks & valleys…



…and most expect an elevator and are shocked that not every building is a skyscraper :grinning:


ABSOLUTELY! Sleep integration is a real thing. I have proven it to myself so many times it’s not even a question in my book any more. I find that I get more out of my practice time when I can practice at night. Of course, that never happens since my 2 year old goes to bed at 8pm, but that’s a different story.


Yep, totally. Happens all the time with me!


Thanks for the feedback, everybody.

Maybe I have always kind of recognized this. I remember being puzzled numerous times with multiple instruments that after practicing a new break or chord progression for hours, it was no easier at the end of the session than it was at the beginning. But then, the next day, it was, just a little easier. That it might have “burned in” during sleep never occurred to me. Pick and learn!

Hmm, I wonder if this realization will help in other ways!

Thanks again!

1 Like