Becoming an Independent Banjo Player (Flying and Picking #10)

Red Henry

Red Henry

Murphy, in an old Banjo Newsletter column, talked at length about how people want to become Independent Banjo Players. They want to be able to get in a group and play tunes, play backup, and pass the breaks around to others just like "independent" pickers do, who don't need a teacher's guidance to participate. And they need to be able to do all this while standing up!

I thought about this yesterday while I was on a solo cross-country flight. As you learn to be an independent pilot, you learn to fly the plane and land it, communicate with other pilots in the air, and to navigate from one place to another-- and eventually, you do all this without an instructor's help. So I took off yesterday morning by myself and flew about 75 miles to an airport I'd never seen before (Somerset County, Pa.), landed there, took off again, and found my way right back and landed here at Winchester. When I got back here, I felt like I was learning to be an Independent Pilot. Could I have done this without a lot of training from my instructor? Of course not. But is it good to feel like an Independent Pilot? Oh, yes.

It also feels good when you learn to be an Independent Banjo Player. You know that you can stand up in a group, play the tunes, do backup when someone else is playing, take breaks and pass them off when you're through playing yourself, and start and finish the tune at the same time as everybody else. Can you learn this all at once? No. And like everything else, it takes some folks longer to learn than others. But when you reach your goal, it feels good. You know you're an Independent Banjo Player.


2 thoughts on “Becoming an Independent Banjo Player (Flying and Picking #10)

  1. Augie

    Hi Red,

    Your message brings back lots of flying memories. Here you are learning to fly, which I did at age 43 and now I’m learning banjo at age 66. I’m presently working on Cumberland Gap on DVD #1. It’s painfully slow at times, but I’m no teenager. They probably have longer, slimmer, more dexterous fingers and a better memory than I.

    Keep on pushing. Augie

  2. Steve (in Japan)

    Your last paragraph ties in with Murphy’s recent blog, “The Question of Speed.” I just want to mention that so TMM knows that folks outside are paying attention. Thanks again.

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