Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Progress update from camp experience

Hey all, since attending @BanjoBen’s camp I’ve been playing the mandolin about four hours a day and have tried real hard to improve my ear. It’s a work in progress. Before joining this site I never would have imagined that I could play music. Since the camp I’ve tried to really embrace the bluegrass jams in my area. I’ve gone to about six of them since. Each time I get a little better and a little more comfortable and confident. Today I went to one I’ve attended seven or eight times in the last few months. After the three hour jam session today the leader told me he thought I did really well and wanted to know if I’d be willing to join a smaller jam circle that has some more accomplished pickers in it. He told me he could see some major improvements in the last few weeks, and that whatever I was doing to keep it up. He said that he thinks I’m ready to practice around some more experienced players that I could also learn from. I was shocked! Less than a year ago I had never attended a jam session. At Ben’s camp I knew the songs, but forgot everything as soon as it was my turn to play. I find I get really nervous playing in front of others. Then I did the concert at the camp and even though I messed up spectacularly, I felt that rush that @Jake asked if I got and it made me want to do it again. It was intense and I loved it. I am still real nervous, but less worried about messing up and now am just more focused on having fun. I’ll keep you posted, but the camp gave me a renewed vigor to practice. I hope everyone else is making good progress too!


Wow! That’s really awesome! I don’t think anyone knew, going in, that the camp would have been as beneficial as it was. Sure, we all expected to learn and have fun, but stories like this? This is beyond the benefits I’ve ever heard anyone say they received from a camp experience.

Thanks for sharing! I continue to be inspired.


I do believe you have found the holy grail of music. My wish for you is that you never stop having fun!

Remember when Ben talked to us about why we get nervous and where we find our worth and value from? And then in the very next song Katy drops her pick…twice. I’m not sure that could’ve been planned any better if God had huddled them all together and started drawing in the sand and said, “OK, here’s the play…”


Wow @crohnieks, that is so exciting. I’m so happy to hear that you’re making progress and others are seeing it and that you’re feeling more at ease playing with others. I guess there’s hope for little old stage frightened me then. Keep us posted will you?


That’s great!

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Keep up the good work! @crohnieks Also, I think most folks can relate to the nervousness of playing. After all, who can pick accurately when your hands are shaking? :grinning:

A couple things that have helped me, is to play whenever and whereever I can. I play at church regularly which provides a chance to play in front of a crowd a friendly atmosphere. Great job getting involved in jam circles; any chance to play in front of others. Also, lose your fear of making a mistake in front of others, because…you’re always going to make them and this is completely normal no matter what a person’s proficiency.

Also, it helps me to just concentrate on the music and the audience disappears. Strangely enough, I feel less nervous playing on a stage for an enormous crowd at a county fair than people sitting close in a small auditorium. I think it’s the distraction of all those eyes staring at you. Since the brain can only concentrate on mainly one thing at a time, focusing only on the music seems to help me. Keep up the great work!!!

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Stage fright - - Wow… Very difficult to overcome. I’ve had that disease for years. I have not eliminated it but I’ve made significant progress. How? I was told to “just forget that you are jamming. Concentrate only on what you are doing”. Now, before everyone jumps on me about taking into account and blending with those around you, let me say that I understand that completely. Pickers are part of a whole and need to be “tuned” in to the group. I agree. But for anyone who has had this affliction - - - it’s tough and many just give up because of it. Eliminate distraction even if it means (temporarily) tuning out the other players while you take your break.

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I’m always messing up, and I think a lot of us on this learning curve do, so don’t worry. I don’t expect to be the world’s greatest, I just love playing. So glad the camp has given you the inspiration and has improved your playing. Onwards and upwards my friend. :+1:


Awesome story! Thanks for sharing and creating some additional encouragement for us all.

When people write about fails and messing up. Or when I do terrible I always think of that picture that was posted on this forum awhile back, that said some like. A professional have failed more than beginner has even tried. That have a way to make comfort and relief for me.