Well, despite my lack of posts, I’m still working hard at the banjo — when I have time. 😦
I did have a spell of almost two weeks when I played practically nothing at all, first due to a very busy work life, then due to an impressively powerful flu virus which left me weak as a newborn kitten for several days, and then due to a very busy work life again as I gradually caught up with the work I had missed. Luckily life has calmed down a bit since then, though I rarely have the two hours a day I’d like to dedicate to the banjo.
I am finding the banjo more and more fascinating! As I lie in bed at night waiting to fall asleep, I often work out chord progressions in my head and try to form them with my left hand. I also try to figure out and concentrate on each note of each chord I am “playing”. (I used to be just as fanatical with the trumpet — in fact I still find myself automatically doing the appropriate trumpet fingerings whenever I hear a melody that interests me.)
One thing that I still find a little unnatural is imagining the angle of the fingerboard. I’ll explain. For example, if I play a low F on the fourth string, that means extending my left pinkie finger a centimeter or so towards my left shoulder. I can do this easily without getting confused if I have a banjo in my hands. I can also do it without a banjo as long as I hold my left hand up as if I were had the neck of the banjo in it (with the palm facing my left shoulder).
But if I turn my hand over (without the banjo), palm down, and try to imagine myself playing a low F, I get all confused about which direction I should extend the pinkie.
I find this a little strange. You’d think the angle of my hand wouldn’t matter much, since the muscles I use the extend the finger are the same. Perhaps my “cue” for the direction in which to extend the finger is the banjo itself, not the physical sensation of moving the finger. Anyway, when I “practice” without the banjo in hand, I have to do it with my left palm facing more or less upwards.