are only playing the major scale in one octave, then the notes of the
scale are physically close together on the fretboard. Your hand
doesn't have to travel far to get the next note. Extending the octave
range, however, requires you to change your hand position. sometimes,
especially with the flat keys, this jumping to a new position, or
'position shift', as Pat Cloud calls it in his book 'The Key to the
5-String Banjo', requires that you go from a fretted string, way up
the neck to another fretted string, either on the same string or
different one. While difficult to execute at first, it becomes easier
with practice. (think of guitarists and mandolinists having to do
that all the time). Once you have changed hand positions to extend
your octave range of the scale, usually the new position will have a
cluster of notes that can be reached without moving the hand much,
like in the first position.
The reason you may play, say, the note 'C' on the 4th string, 10th
fret as opposed to the 3rd string, 5th fret could be that you are in
the middle of a 'position shift', or that your hand is already in a C
major position near the 10th fret and it is desirable to get the 'C'
there instead of falling all the way down the neck.
Hope this all makes sense! Scales really are just catalogs of notes.
In my book, I stress knowing these notes for the whole range of your
banjo fretboard. As a result, The fingerings are plotted out to
allow the easiest way to navigate that distance. If you check out
Pete Pardee's "Scales and Arpeggios for the 5-String Banjo" (and
everyone should have that great book) he lists many different ways to
play each scale. Some seem ridiculously hard to me, and others seem
easier than I'd have figured out myself. It all depends on the what's
the best way for *you*, at any given moment.
Thanks to David Crisler.