EXERCISES FOR THREE-FINGER BANJO
BY JACK HATFIELD
Mel Bay MB99783.
(Mel Bay, #4 Industrial Dr., Pacific, MO 63069, www.melbay.com.)
This is a book for the serious banjo player. It’s full of techniques for both hands on the banjo and good advice to everyone wanting to be a better three-finger banjo player. Subtitled Drills In Scruggs, Single String And Melodic Styles, this book is all of that and a lot more. Hatfield stresses that you have to be in good physical shape as well as mental shape to excel at banjo. Meaning: the better you treat yourself using exercises and generally developing mental acuity, the better you will be able to maximize your potential on the banjo.
The first part of the book is geared to relating to your banjo and becoming more comfortable with it. From there, he gets into tabbed exercising and the importance of timing and using a metronome to keep you honest about how well you’re doing in this area. All through the book, music theory is discussed, if not quite called that with its focus on chord progressions, chord inversion positions, and scales.
The second part of the book focuses on defining the three-finger-style with Scruggs rolls, timing exercises, and left-hand techniques to get the best tone and speed. There is a full discussion of left-hand techniques, many that rarely make it to banjo books, but are exactly what the great players are doing. Drills for scales in single string and melodic styles are covered thoroughly.
The last page of the book talks about mental exercises that define playing with intention and intelligence. A comprehensive book is common for classical and jazz players. As the banjo has moved to ever expanding musical horizons, this book will provide the tools required for that level of accomplishment. This is a must-have volume for the serious banjo player who wants to push the perceived limits of the banjo.RCB