Sunday, March 21, 2010

Banjo Pickin' by Georgia Downer

I've always loved banjo pickin' music. When I turned 30, Bob gave me a beautiful rosewood 5-string and I signed up for lessons the next day. I could read music, the result of 5 years of piano lessons. The local music store found an instructor for me and I was off and running.

Sol, about 60 or so, plinked away on my banjo during our first session. He showed me how to tune it and presented me with a new red book of banjo chords and techniques and led me though Lesson One.

"Here y'are. Now you take this book and banjo home and practice. Since you can read music, it shouldn't give ya much trouble. See ya next time now."

Next week, I showed up with sore fingers from pressing on the strings, short fingernails, and full of complaints. "I can't do this. My fingers hurt, I can't balance the banjo on my lap or in front of me."

Sol again led me though the lessons; even practiced with me on his own banjo. I did learn the basics and mastered "Boil That Cabbage Down." Eventually. The last time I saw Sol, I again moaned, "I'll never get any better. How did you ever learn this?"

"Well, I'll tell ya. My Pa taught me to play the banjo and he said it was just like anything else in life. Ya just keep pickin' until ya get it right. Might take a long time, but ya to keep pickin."

That turned out to be the end of my formal banjo lessons, but I've never forgotten what he told me and I've used that mantra many times when things weren't going well.

"Ya just keep pickin' until ya get it right. Got to keep pickin'."

Georgia Downer writes essays and short fiction. She's won prizes for her work and is currently working on a novel.


  1. Wonderful words to guide you, Georgia! Thanks for sharing.


  2. I love it. Thank you for the encouragement!


  3. Just the words I needed for today, thanks Georgia.

  4. Georgia, you're a peach to share this with us. Thanks.

  5. So encouraging!

    Learning to write is like learning anything new - takes time and practice but most importantly DESIRE.

    Wonderful post.

  6. Great post! I had piano lessons also, but never had the incentive to go very far. The mantra works for anything. Winners don't quit, and quitters don't win. (courtesy of my father). It is a pleasure knowing you.