I’ll admit I was a little nervous before my first banjo lesson.
My instructor was a well-known player, someone who I had admired for years. He’d recently moved to the area, and I jumped at the opportunity to sign up for lessons. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, but as I stood outside the door to his studio, I felt I had made a mistake. A player of his caliber wouldn’t want to spend his time teaching a beginner like me.
Before I had time to change my mind, though, the door opened. “You must be Dave?”
Last chance to back out, I thought. Just say you’re not “Dave.” Tell him there’s been a mix-up, and then you can go home. “Yes, I’m Dave.” Was that my voice? Ooops.
The next thing I knew, I was playing a piece from my “Banjo for Beginners” book under his watchful eye. I made a few mistakes, but I managed to get through the whole tune.
On the other side of the music stand, he sat with his chin in his hand, and didn’t say anything right away. He looked like Rodan’s “Thinker.” Uh-oh. This isn’t good.
“Well,” he said, leaning back in his chair and pressing his fingertips together, “two things stand out right away. First, you’ll want to position the right hand a little differently, so that the fingers can be more relaxed. Good technique is important from the beginning, but it’ll be absolutely essential when we move into the advanced stuff.”
That sure sounds like he’s inviting me back for more lessons. But he said there were two things.
“What’s the other thing?” I asked.
“Your strings don’t have much life in them. There’s just no resonance.” He handed me a set of Dean Markley banjo strings. “Give those a try. You should notice a big difference. And when your banjo sounds its best, you’ll be inspired to play your best. Put those on before you practice again, and I’ll see you next week, OK?”
For sound that inspires… Dean Markley banjo strings. Isn’t it time you learned your lesson?