Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Repetition makes me worse

I didn’t know where to put this but I’ll throw this idea out.

Example: I’m working on the Waypoints roll. I find when I first start I’m doing great working up the neck. But doing that constant roll the whole time doesn’t make me better it actually makes me play worse. By the time I’m coming back down I am not as smooth. Feel like I’m laboring to keep roll accurate instead of nice and smooth. Its not a matter of knowing it. I know the roll and the chord positions. The repetition just does me in.

I personally find if I’m playing music that has as an example, a forward roll that is played twice and then goes into a forward reverse roll or some other different hand motion I do better. Hand doesn’t fell like its getting tight playing the same thing over and over.

Additionally, I find once I learn something at a faster speed its very difficult to slow down and play it smooth at a slow speed. Like the Waypoints. Played it last night slowly and it was kind of laborious to play at such a slow speed. Turn the tempo up and I was right at home doing good. My thinking is you should be able to play it at any speed if you know it. I might be wrong.

I hope that makes sense. Any advice as always is appreciated.

I experience the same thing sometimes. I blamed it on increasing the tempo before I was really ready to increase it. I have made a commitment this year to playing clean not fast. I hope it pays off. I haven’t played anything up to speed this year yet.

Good news…you’re normal!

Both things are pretty much human nature. and are more pronounced in less experienced or casual players.

Keeping tension out of repetitive tasks is something nearly everyone has to deal with,

As for the speed thing…most people do best what they’ve worked on most recently. If you spend the majority of you time at a certain speed, you will play that best, just like on a specific lick. You might try playing what you’re working on at a few different speeds as you practice it to help “loosen up” that “locked into a tempo” feeling…treat it like a riff and work a little more on the speed you’re having the most trouble with.

Both things should become less troublesome as you progress with your playing. concentrating on them a bit on a regular basis should speed up the process.


I concur with what Dave has said. Things do become boring with repetition when your a beginner and you want to get on a do the flashy stuff . You have to learn to overcome that. The key to learning the flashy stuff is familiarity with the fundamentals.


@sharingtimeagain1 Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Know why it’s hard to say that fast multiple times? Because it requires expert control of fine muscle movements…keep playing.


It’s easy to over do a certain thing you’re trying to learn. I find that mixing it up helps with that. Come back to it and it will be easier and feel more natural the more you do this. Also play at different tempos. If you find yourself speeding up, try using a metronome.

What I mean by mixing it up is: try different progressions, songs, tempos, even different instruments if you play more than just one and then come back to the problem area. And keep at it. Some things just seem to take forever.

I’ve taken up Dobro recently and I’ve never played banjo or anything with rolls and fingerpicks. I’m strictly a flatpicker on guitar and mandolin. I’m having a ton of trouble with the super quick three note forward roll that goes into a single string slide. You’re supposed to mute the first two strings that are played with the thumb and index finger, then the third string played with the middle finger is un-muted while lifting the bar and sliding at the same time. It’s not coming to me at all it seems, but I’ll keep at it. Eventually it will come and it will become second nature without even thinking much about it… I hope. I hate wearing these fingerpicks! That’s another problem in itself.

Keep at it! As Fiddlewood said, “you’re normal”.


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Great way to say it, Ben!

I am trying each practice with Foggy Lick. Not much improvement yet… but at least I recognize and am getting these clunker practices in…

It is a journey… I remind myself.