How to progress faster learning the banjo
How did you go from beginning to professional?
There is one thing that I would like to offer as a question and that is, have you considered writing an article about how you progressed playing the banjo from the beginning through intermediate, and advance play, before becoming professional? I'm sure countless aspiring banjo players would be interested in how you went about going from a novice banjo player to an expert today. For example, I, for one, would be interested in knowing how often and for how long did you practice, your approach to learning, and your daily practice routine. That would help many players better understand what it takes to succeed in moving beginner up to advance play.
Ross Nickerson answer
I practiced feverishly in the first year and began to play with others, started a band, began to play out and then got a lot of practice at work so to speak.
To break that down to the bottom line.
I recommend, practicing and developing skills rather than songs, find others to play with and participate with asap, try to get a gig and keep doing it, keep trying to improve.
A gig could be playing for free for family and friends, a nursing home, anything that causes you to rehearse, get nervous and cram to improve before the date you are to play in front of others. Everyone loves the banjo even if you are not Bela Fleck yet, get out and share it.
Practice aids that simulate playing with others are great. I have several available and this is the way that I primarily practice these days, playing along with practice CDs and cramming for a gig or recording session.
With banjo, put your priorities in..... steady, clear, in time picking......., Also master chords and basic chord progressions. ......That will trump any hot lick jumble of notes or parts of songs any day of the week.
Another note on progress due to playing with others, its reps or repetitions that make it stick, when I began playing four set shows, I got a lot of rolls in as you can imagine.
Progress will likely be measured it how many reps and positive reinforcing of things you experience. Seek out ways to get the most picking, exercising and practical experience as you can.