It is not a simple YES and NO question. Just like when you learn other kinds of instruments, there is no overnight or quicker solution to learn banjo from the beginning. When we need to answer the question of how long does it take to learn the banjo, it will come down to various factors, whether it is external or internal.
The thing is that not all people have the same common grounds about their milestones. For instance, one can argue that some people would never “fully ” learn the banjo. There’s always something to learn and explore which relates to this instrument. Meanwhile, other people only have minor goals like being an intermediate player. So, it will all depend on the individuals who want to learn the banjo instrument.
If you have any sort of question, then you must comprehend that it will be dependent on various factors. And you cannot put yourself on the same track as other people.
Learning banjo for beginners
Whether you have the basics in a string instrument or it is your very first instrument, learning the basics won’t take a year to finish.
If you are joining a course, it would take a full month or so to finish and cover the bases. At least you could play a full song or two with strumming and plucking. But if you learn at your own pace, it might take longer or shorter depending on the amount of time you spent practicing, and your capability in learning.
Beginner to intermediate – it will take far longer
In a nutshell, you won’t expect to be an intermediate banjo player at the same year of your beginner phase. It can take longer to “fully” learn banjo.
Tuning is one of the most significant challenges that you need to handle. Many people expect that they can get all of the basics within a few weeks. Well, that’s just the start. If you want to be a professional banjo player, you will have to plan for your trips for many years in the future.
Plan for months after months after months until you can do fantastic performances on the stage.
At your early phase of learning, you will just get involved with a few notes. And it will be boring because the chords are not so prevalent in your training session. And if you are using the chords, those will be much simpler.
Some people would argue that it is slow learning and not sensible. Well, we say it is.
Do you know the difference between professionals and “show-off”?
“Show-off” people claim to be able to play difficult techniques, but they are not anything better than professionals. Professionals do not only comprehend the techniques, but also consistency, accuracy, speed, and quality. And to reach that level, it would take years.
Speaking about the numbers
I am sure you were wondering why I mentioned intangible words such as months, years, overnight, or so. Well, if we talk about the numbers, it is great to have the same common ground as the benchmark.
For instance, let’s expect what you are able to reach in 5,000 hours of practice.
5,000 hours of practice is not a small deal. It would take a long time to finish this milestone. If you’re working the conventional job 9-5, and you practice in your free time, it would take 200 to 365 days to finish your 5,000 hours of practice.
If you’re in college, it would take 150 to 250 days to finish this milestone, or more depending on your daily schedule. It is also important to note if you are doing a part-time job. Time management will be the real challenge here.
Some Banjo performers claimed that they would take at least 3,000 hours of work to get to the point where some songs are their second nature. Some people even only need 2,000 hours of work to make the decent play of banjo enjoyable by their audiences.
Alright, let’s say that you’ve covered all of the basis. Now, the real challenge for you is how you can amp your performance up. One can have the skills and techniques, but to play a few songs in perfection is different from one individual to another.
If you have played stringed instrument before
Whether it is guitar, bass, ukulele, or else, you might have one thing that can help you to speed up your practices: your muscle memory. Chances are you have learned some techniques such as fretting, strumming, as well as basic chords.
Believe it or not, the skills and techniques you’ve gotten from your previous string instruments are transferable. Of course, you will need to get used to the anatomy of the banjo because it will feel different with your guitar or other string instruments. But you will find more familiarity than the differences, which makes your learning process much faster.
With this fact alone, you will be weeks or months ahead of the others who have never played string instruments before.
But here is the thing. When you cross from one string instrument to another, you may not neglect the fact that the portion of practices or jamming sessions for other instruments will be decreased. Well, you have to divide your time up. While you can master more instruments than other people, it does not mean that you have mastered to the highest level. Each individual has their own cap. Not to mention that there is a stalling point.
That’s why when you notice some popular names such as Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, and others only have one or two string instruments for their life. Earl Scruggs was known as a wonderful banjo player because he paid more attention to this instrument than others. He has commitment and dedication to focus on this instrument. Out of passion, there’s also “hours of work and practices”. don’t get it wrong, when someone’s at the professional level, they won’t stop learning and exploring.