The following exercises are intended as a means of developing and reinforcing your drop thumb skills.
Before working through them, make sure you’ve already made your way through the Drop Thumb Module, so that you have a solid understanding of the mechanics involved.
These exercises are all based on commonly used drop thumb maneuvers that you’d find in clawhammer arrangements. Make your way successfully through these exercises, and you can assure that you’re well prepared to drop your thumb through any arrangement (the use of drop thumb is the primary difference between level 2 and 3 arrangements).
To use these offline, you can download the exercises and the practice tracks with the links below.
Drop Thumb Drills (PDF)
DROP THUMB WORKOUT SET 1 (Exercises 1-4)
Here’s how I’d recommend working through these exercises to get the most out of them:
- Step 1: Work through each exercise individually (i.e. without the practice track to first learn the picking pattern.
- Step 2: Practice each exercise along with the practice tracks. Click the links below to download the tracks.
Each track will begin with the track played at a slow (60 BPM), comfortable tempo (with metronome backing). You’ll move through each exercise in the set (exercises 1-4 are in set 1, exercises 5-8 are in set 2), and then the tempo will increase, to a maximum of 100 BPM.
On the tracks, the exercises are presented in “call and response” format, though I suggest you play the entire time. You’ll hear me play through the 4 measure exercise (play along with me), and then I’ll drop out so that you can play it solo.
You’ll continue to hear me come in and out every 4 measures throughout each exercise.
The total running time for each workout track is about 20 minutes, plenty of time to signal your brain that some learning needs to happen!
Your goal is to play cleanly and in time with the track. If you find yourself getting sloppy, or falling out of time as the tempo increases, start over. If you find yourself losing focus, or hit the 30 minute mark (from rewinding, etc.), then end your session for the day.
The workout tracks are also a great way to practice visualization, another powerful technique covered in the Laws of Brainjo series (click here for the article on visualization). Play it while relaxing, riding the car, or anywhere else you choose, and you can reap the benefits of the workout even without your banjo in hand.
Most of all, enjoy yourself!
DROP THUMB DRILLS – SET ONE
DROP THUMB DRILLS – SET TWO