It should be pointed out that *practice* is a totally different realm than *playing*. Remember that *practice* is thinking. *Playing* is not so much thinking. I've heard it described as a kind of relaxed, detached maintenence in which you are the listener as well as the player. The music transcends your nagging self-awareness. Everything learned in practice has to be under your fingers, COLD. Practicing with others develops the other realm of *playing*. In *playing*, you make mistakes, but still know where you are in real time to pick up from where you erred. You go on and allow yourself mistakes. You make note of them and go back later to correct them in solitary *practice*. It's a cyclical process. You begin to learn how to hear.

It seems that practice is the awareness of your fingering, the chord you are on, timing and any other elements which are necessary to prepare you for *playing* with others. You then take those elements and try them with others in a safe playing environment which is ideally non-intimidating and therefore constructive. Workshops and slow jams are great for musical growth.

Another thing that was hinted at in the discussion of practice was *repetition*. Everything bows down to repetition. I usually use hash marks on a page to keep track of a practice *goal* I've set for myself. Which, by the way is the next important thing for me.

A *goal* is very important. A general goal is maybe a repertoire of songs and specific goal is a phrase, lick, etc. Since you can only practice in a single "day", a goal specific to what you want to accomplish and the number of days in which you want to accomplish it is a good idea. If something seems more formidable that you had expected, that is, will take longer to master than you had originally thought, break it up into smaller goals until you have a specific song, phrase, lick or whatever to accomplish in a certain amount of time. Be reasonable. Don't bite off more than you can chew.

If something is chronically bothersome, like a fingering that makes you slow down when you feel it coming up in time, then consult your instructor as to whether you are encumbering yourself on a certain passage or phrase. Usually, the fingering is OK, but it may be how you THINK about the sequence that solves problem. Sometimes the process of tying together the various practice fragments, licks etc. is incomplete and all you need do is think about the transition differently.

Love your banjo. Pick up your banjo every day, even if you have only five minutes. Make a daily contact with your instrument. It wants to do great things for you.

Get a musical instrument stand and have a *place* to practice.

Get a *calendar* and have a written goal of how many hours, what you want to accomplish and your expected time for the overall area you want to master for each week or month. Check off the days you practice and what you did and how long you practiced.

*Tape record* your progress to offset discouragement. Know that that sparkle of notes you desire will come if you want it bad enough.

These and other topics will be included in the revised "Key to Five String Banjo" and the "30 Day Banjo Practice Diet" due out later this year. I'm learning page layout as fast as I can.

Pat Cloud