Jim Bottorff's
TIPS ON PLAYING ALONG WITH THE SONGS
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Following are some tips for listening, practicing, and playing along with the songs on this website:


Tips On Playing Along:
 
1. Each song has an introduction intended to get you into the song easily.  Listen to the bass and rhythm of the introduction and you should be able to hear the tempo for the song.  Lead-in melody notes for the song sometimes will start before the introduction is finished.  Start playing along after the introduction is finished. Listen closely and be ready. The chords shown on the charts are for the song, not the introduction. Don't play along with the introduction. Start strumming along with the song after the introduction has finished. Most of the songs have a small pause at the end of the introduction.
 
Examples:
 
Song with an 8 beat introduction and no lead-in notes. (click here)
Song with an 8 beat introduction and 2 lead-in notes. (click here)
Song in 3/4 waltz time with a 6 beat introduction and no lead-in notes. (click here)
Song in 3/4 waltz time with a 6 beat introduction and 2 lead-in notes. (click here)
 
2. Listening to the bass is important.  The bass notes are usually a simple steady beat with occasional fill-in notes.  Almost all the chord changes occur on a bass beat.  If you listen closely to the bass notes, the chord changes should become easier to recognize.

3. The melody of each song is usually played in the higher octave first time through, and the lower octave on the repeat.  If you use headphones, you can hear the separation of the high and low melody.  The high melody is on the right channel and the low melody is on the left channel.

4. If you need to mute your banjo, try using two small size wooden or plastic clothes pins, spring type, and clip one on each end of the bridge below the strings. Placing a small strip of foam rubber or sponge behind the bridge close to the tail piece also helps quiet the banjo. One quick way to get a soft sound on the banjo is to use a felt type ukulele pick, most music stores sell them.

5. Be careful with your body position (neck, shoulders, and back) when practicing.  Keep your head and eyes up, your shoulders and back straight, and stay relaxed. Stand up and stretch often. Try practicing in front of a mirror and watch your chord and finger positions in the mirror, instead of looking down on your banjo. Standing up and using a banjo shoulder strap can be a refreshing change.

6. The "Vanbasco" midi player plugin (free download from http://www.vanbasco.com) allows for changing the tempo and key of the songs along with turning off any of the instrument tracks.  If you are a melody player, you can turn off the song melody and play your melody along with the bass and other instrumental accompaniment.

7.
Click here for some additional tips on changing the tempo and key of the songs.
 
Happy Picking and Strumming,
Jim Bottorff

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