Banjo Encyclopedia Learning Tips
Subject: Banjo Student's Breakdown
I have been working on the Banjo Student's Breakdown in the Banjo Encyclopedia and I am having a bit of trouble with the 8th measure where you perform a 2-3 slide on the third string with your second finger and then use your index finger to fret the 1st string at the second fret. Would it be okay to use your ring finger on that first string second fret, instead? It is really difficult to maneuver the index finger under the second finger to hit that first string. You often mention that we should use the correct finger as indicated, so if using the ring finger is "short-cutting" on the development of an important skill, I'll tough it out with the index finger, but if not, the ring finger sure makes it easier.
Answer from Ross Nickerson
That particular lick and fingering is used a lot so I would say not to skip it. Do some of the finger exercises in the book and learn to stretch your fingers more. Exercising your left hand should be a much bigger part of your practice time. That is really not that far of a stretch and you will need to develop that ability for things down the line. Hope that helps. back to work for me.
Additional comment I did not put in the email reply. It is a little advice that is not so sugar coated.
Banjo players are notorious for having weak underdeveloped left hands. Stop picking and learning new songs long enough to get some ability in the fretting hand before moving forward, and learn your chords!