When playing scales and other music, I’ve noticed that after an open note I often find myself fingering the wrong string because my fingertips have lost contact with the banjo. To avoid this, I find it helpful to place a finger in advance, before I need it. This helps me to keep my place on the fingerboard. For example, the two small notes in this example (A and F) are fingered where notated, but not played until two notes later:
For this reason — and many others — I see that is is necessary to be able to move each finger from string to string independently, without moving the other fingers at all. (Otherwise they might bend a little and cause the other strings to buzz.) So I (who love to create exercises) have created “Finger-independence exercise (1)”. (It is number “(1)” because I expect I’ll be creating more finger-independence exercises in the future….) When I practice it, first I place all four fingers on a single string in a straight line. I then move one finger from string to string, trying fanatically not to move my other fingers at all. If I feel one of them touching another string, I consider that a mortal sin. I also try to keep all four fingers right behind their respective frets, not allowing them to slide up or down the string.
Of course, such perfectionist study is extremely demanding and shouldn’t be continued too long. I never do this exercise more for than 10 minutes at a time.
Anyway, here it is, for anyone who is interested. Click here or on the image to download a high-quality version in PDF format. (It will take you to a web page where you have to choose “Finger-independence exercise (1)”.)