Fingers tensing up while playing banjo
I have just started using some of your materials but have not yet seen this issue specifically addressed. My playing consistency is poor. Some days I can play moderate difficulty tunes with rhythm and timing and with few if any errors. At other times (particularly when playing in front of an “audience”), both right and left hands seem to develop palsy. I feel like I need to develop consistency in order to be confident enough to perform and play well. Where should I start?
Ross Nickerson answer
That's a tough question without seeing you play first hand but tensing up is common particularly if you are somewhat new to the instrument.
I would warm up a lot before any potential playing in front of others or before any of the situations you described that it happens in. Also when warming up, be aggressive and try to play the hardest stuff you know, try to play faster then normal, and exercise your left hand a lot, as well as the picking hand.
I hate to sound overly simplistic and again it would help if I saw you play but, practice and constant repetition is what makes the fingers do what they should do even if you are distracted or under duress of any kind.
Hope that helps some,