365 hours of banjo practice


It turns out practicing the banjo for an hour each day is hard.

You already knew that? I did as well but still underestimated the task. Several times in the first week I found myself starting practice at 9 pm. Those nights sucked and I only completed an hour on one of them. It was a reminder of something I’d heard in the fitness world: plan your session the day before or it won’t happen. Hand in hand with that idea is the idea of finding a consistent time of day you are able to practice (my practice journal is at the bottom of this post if you are bored).

 Plan the day before and find a consistent window.

During the first year of the pandemic, when I started to actually learn how to play the guitar, I found a nice pocket of time: 7 am – 8 am. Sorry guitar, banjo now takes priority. The age-old feud between the two continues.

So for the last week, after I help get Holly and Annie out the door on the way to school, and before I must report to the corporate overlords remotely (I can’t complain, they pay me well), I sit down and practice banjo for an hour. This has helped tremendously. However, there are still hurdles. Some days I REALLY don’t feel like practicing. In those moments I follow the advice I’ve heard from many guitarists, “just pick it up and start playing and you’ll remember you love it.” I’ve found that to be true almost 100% of the time. Other days I can’t get my family out the door until 7:20 or 730 which means I can’t get the full hour in before 8 am when the day takes off on me. So I’ve got to find back up windows outside of that consitent 7 am – 8 am window

Damn you Mark Zuckerberg! I’m taking my time back!

Do you waste time reading about how the world is shit on a regular basis? How about scrolling endlessly through pics and videos of other people’s lives? Perhaps you’re like me and enjoy watching streaming series in which characters are constantly in pain, there is never any conclusion and the series continues one episode after the other forever, leaving you feeling both entertained and kinda empty? I throw no stones at you. Nor at Mark Zuckerberg (really). We are in control of our time and the aforementioned time is low-hanging fruit for the opportunity to better our lives. Some nights my family splits up and watches shows independently. Turns out I hate Disney’s “The Descendants” and my 7 year old should not watch the carnage and sexuality of The Witcher. On many of those nights, I now practice banjo instead. Guess what? Instead of feeling used and empty, I feel great having improved my life. I’ve also found that early mornings (6 am – 630am) work well. Instead of scrolling on the phone putting off the inevitability of having to make cursed lunches (my nemesis) I start the day off right! F yeah Tony Robbins! This brings me to the next lesson learned:

 Buy a Banjo Mute.

Unless you live by yourself in the mountains (you lucky bastard!) you need a mute. It turns out the world is full of crazy people and not everyone loves the banjo (Can you believe it?!). Even those who do, like my wife, don’t want to hear it at 5:45 am (when I got 30 min of practice in yesterday). So you’ve got to get a banjo mute if you want to consistently practice. I love Mike’s Banjo Mute. It ALMOST sounds like a harp. Check out John’s suggestions for other muting options.


That’s all I’ve got for you today. Here’s my practice journal if you’re interested:

Day 19 (1-19)

1hr 30 min

Bluegrass: Learn Old Joe Clark

Clawhammer: RHT, Learn Ground Hog, Learn Sally Ann

Day 18 (1-18)

1 hr 40 min

Bluegrass: learn Old Joe Clark, Rolls, Song Review, chord dexterity

Clawhammer: RHT, Learn Ground Hog, Learn Sally Ann

Day 17 (1-17)

1 hr

Bluegrass: Song Review, Learn Old Joe Clark

Clawhammer: RHT, Original Song, Dink’s Song

Day 16 (1-16)

1 hr 20

Bluegrass: Rolls, Song Review, Learn Blackberry Blossom

Clawhammer: RHT, Learn Ground Hog Day

Day 15 (1-15)

1 hr

Bluegrass: Rolls, Learn Blackberry Blossom

Clawhammer: Right Hand Technique, Original Song

Week 2 Total = 5hrs 45 min

Day 14 (1-14)

15 min

Rolls, Salty Dog

Day 13 (1-13)

45 min

Rolls, Song Review

Day 12 (1-12)

45 min

Rolls, Learn Blackberry Blossom

Day 11 (1-11)

47 min

Rolls, Learn Blackberry Blossom

Day 10 (1-10)


Rolls, Learn Blackberry Blossom

Day 9 (1-9)


Clawhammer (right hand tech + original song), Rolls, Salty Dog, song review, vamping

Day 8 (1-8)

1hr 45min

Rolls, Salty Dog, Clawhammer, Jam Session @ Zoltan’s. 

Week 1 Total 5hrs 48min

Day 7 (1-7)

35 min

Lesson (salty dog)

Day 6 (1/6)


Rolls, Salty Dog, claw hammer

Day 5 

1hr 17min

-Tom Dooley, Salty Dog

Day 4 (1/4)

10min – claw hammer

Day 3 (1/3)

1hr – rolls, Song Review, Tom Dooley, chord review, claw hammer (30 min)

Day 2 (1/2)

1hr3m – rolls warmup, chords major and minor, Song review, Salty Dog lessons (John).

Claw hammer right hand

Day 1 (1/1)

1 hr, – rolls warmup, chords major and minor, Song review, Salty Dog lessons (John).




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