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> Building Stamina
Cosmin Lupu
post Mar 19 2012, 08:07 PM
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Gang, I discovered in time, that there are moments when you need to play 'a lot' of notes at a steady tempo and when different rhythmic subdivisions occur, in phrasing and pauses are scarce, your hands tend to start a little riot biggrin.gif if you get my idea.

Now, I found that it is totally awesome to be able to keep your hands relaxed and even more awesome to be able to relax while playing without stopping, when you realized your hands tensed up.

How do you workout on building stamina? How easy do you find it to relax when playing?

Let's share some wisdom wink.gif

Cosmin


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Alex Feather
post Mar 19 2012, 09:42 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Mar 19 2012, 07:07 PM) *
Gang, I discovered in time, that there are moments when you need to play 'a lot' of notes at a steady tempo and when different rhythmic subdivisions occur, in phrasing and pauses are scarce, your hands tend to start a little riot biggrin.gif if you get my idea.

Now, I found that it is totally awesome to be able to keep your hands relaxed and even more awesome to be able to relax while playing without stopping, when you realized your hands tensed up.

How do you workout on building stamina? How easy do you find it to relax when playing?

Let's share some wisdom wink.gif

Cosmin

I had the same problem and still do! smile.gif when I have to play for a while my left hand is getting tired! I am warming up before I play every time and it helps a lot! Also practicing with a metronome helps a lot it takes time but totally worth it!


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derper
post Mar 19 2012, 09:49 PM
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My biggest discoveries, regarding this topic, in the last 1-2yrs....


1. Keeping up the strength!! I never used to practice consistently enough to keep the strength built up! Most of us here don't have that problem, and it's easy to solve!

2. Stretches/Warmups EVERY time!! Every, every, every time....even if the project/material isn't that tough. I won't even pick up an acoustic at a buddy's house and play a note, without a warmup/stretch!!

3. Knowing to relax. There are about 4-5 difficult runs during EMULATOR shows, which I just mentally "remind" myself to relax...if I don't relax the hands coming into it, I tend to play stiff and just slightly off time/feel. For me, it comes down to repetition and knowing my material.

4. Practice Efficiency....I still need to do this! But, in order to eventually play more "relaxed" all around, I think I'll need to work on both picking hand efficiency, and also the movements of my fretting hand/fingers. GMC instructors/lessons/collabs have been my best help thus far!


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steve-rec-freak
post Mar 19 2012, 11:01 PM
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QUOTE (Alex Feather @ Mar 19 2012, 09:42 PM) *
I had the same problem and still do! smile.gif when I have to play for a while my left hand is getting tired! I am warming up before I play every time and it helps a lot! Also practicing with a metronome helps a lot it takes time but totally worth it!


Yeah warming up helps a lot ! biggrin.gif

I have big problems to put more strength into the right hand than into the left at the same time. I really need to concentrate to get this going biggrin.gif. But it is worth the afford. You always get a clean tone while playing fast.

It usually tense my hands up while playing to a metronome, at the beginning.
Especially playing 127 bpm or 47bpm... is really hard for me. biggrin.gif But after a while it starts to feel comfortable.

cheers,

S.
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Ben Higgins
post Mar 20 2012, 02:43 PM
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The biggest thing for me is always being warmed up.. I mean literally having warm hands, with good circulation. I don't do stretches before playing guitar, only afterwards when the muscles have been worked and need to rest.

I find that the most relaxed I ever seem to be when playing guitar is when I'm playing along with real music, like a backing track or a real song. Playing with the metronome is good but it's hard to completely cut loose and feel 100% relaxed. I've been working on some other instructors' GMC lessons recently and I've really re-connected with the value of playing real music again.. it just feels looser and more natural smile.gif


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dark dude
post Mar 20 2012, 03:23 PM
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Yeah, if you don't want to eventually hurt yourself when building picking stamina and/or fretting stamina, be sure to relax. If you want to reach your best speeds and play as comfortably as you can, warm up properly.

My fretting stamina hasn't been great recently, so I've taken the obvious choice of legato lessons and threw in sweeping exercises to sort that out. Legato will target mostly horizontal movement, while sweeping will require less finger pressure (due to picking) and target vertical movement (along with a bit of horizontal), so you get a great workout. As long as I do this daily, and not push myself too hard, I'll make good progress.

In the last week I've also made another of those 'tiny but break-through' discoveries concerning my picking hand, which in turn, has allowed me to be more relaxed.

The only thing that I haven't spent a lot of time on is the downpicking relaxed state. I can play some material with downpicking (Creeping Death intro), but I'm certainly not relaxed - I don't believe it's possible due to the nature of the movement. It's highly likely that I just need to practice it more as it has never been focused on.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Mar 20 2012, 04:13 PM
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Wow biggrin.gif great input guys! As Ben said, being able to keep a consistent 'warm' feeling is very important. Since I had a lot on my hands in the last months, I didn't get to practice as much as I would've desired and it usually feels a bit nasty, when you know you can play something if you just give it enough time and work on it, and suddenly, your phone rings and you realize you have to do God knows what... Man, I so miss the years when I had hours and hours on my hand laugh.gif

Well, life is sometimes getting the best of us and we don't always get to use the time as we would like to, but, nonetheless, a bit of extra effort will eventually put things in the right place wink.gif

derper's thought about being conscious of the moment when the difficult parts come in when playing live, can be a two edged sword - last Mozart Rocks gig, I was so aware of the moment that I managed to screw up 2 arpeggios and it seemed to last forever to get back in the flow... Well, it usually is good to be aware, but this time, it seems it was just a bad moment for me laugh.gif


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derper
post Mar 20 2012, 06:19 PM
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Ben, I find it interesting to learn that you don't stretch....although, getting the muscles warm and loose is really the most important.


I also found a trick, for gigs, when you have cold hands right before a show. As we all know, it's important to sit down and warm up, but some gigs are literally COLD, or circumstances just don't give you the time/space to warmup pre-gig. Anyway, if you can get to a sink, just run your hands under hot/warm water for about 1-2 mins, while alternately squeezing, then extending your fingers. The heat from the water, mixed with hand movement, will warm you to the bone very quickly. Tell your keyboardist!! I've changed a few lives with this "secret"!! wink.gif








QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Mar 20 2012, 08:13 AM) *
derper's thought about being conscious of the moment when the difficult parts come in when playing live, can be a two edged sword - last Mozart Rocks gig, I was so aware of the moment that I managed to screw up 2 arpeggios and it seemed to last forever to get back in the flow... Well, it usually is good to be aware, but this time, it seems it was just a bad moment for me laugh.gif

Ha! Well.... 60% of the time, it works EVERY time!! I've certainly "over thought" a run coming into it, and screwed it up before. Now, I have to focus AND tell myself to relax....it's very "zen" and in the moment, but it's been working better for me with EMULATOR runs.

Also, when I make a mistake with EMULATOR, often times it's only because I let my mind wander for just a split second, and then I just miss a tight change. It's a personal battle.


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Dinaga
post Mar 20 2012, 06:30 PM
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Not being able to put the guitar down because you're so obsessed with it can be a problem biggrin.gif One of my ways of relaxing is playing simple licks, or grabbing my acoustic guitar and strumming chords and singing biggrin.gif I'm not a great singer but if I tune the guitar a whole step down I can do most of Voltaire's material and that's enough to keep me happy, cheerful and of course - with a guitar in my hands biggrin.gif

As for warm-up - I never really had the nerve to do any warm-up but after all that's happened in the last month I have to do it now biggrin.gif It's interesting, I never paid attention to warm-up and the condition of my hands before, but when you start playing more complicated stuff it suddenly becomes very important!

I guess it's the next big obstacle of my guitar journey - In the beginning my biggest problem was to play JUST ENOUGH so I progress, now my biggest problem is NOT TO play too much biggrin.gif Funny, eh? But it's so unbelievably true.

I played guitar for about about 6-7 years now and I never had any problems with stamina but now it all changes because I moved to more advanced stuff. Alternate picking is probably the biggest beast of them all - it is quite rewarding when you get it down but if you don't treat it right, it will eat you (and your hand for dessert).

I honestly don't know any technique on building up stamina - I thought it just comes with ages of playing? ohmy.gif

So I have a question for all you advanced guitar players: How long are you able to play at your highest level? For example, for how long can you do complex legato/picking runs before your hand starts to hurt? How has your stamina improved over the years? I just find it incredible seeing advanced players playing the craziest licks over and over (like Gilbert, for example), and I sometimes get frustrated when I hurt myself trying to do the same biggrin.gif

This post has been edited by Dinaga: Mar 20 2012, 06:34 PM


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dark dude
post Mar 20 2012, 06:37 PM
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QUOTE (derper @ Mar 20 2012, 05:19 PM) *
Ben, I find it interesting to learn that you don't stretch....

I don't either, at least not static stretching, I employ dynamic stretching prior to playing. Why? My hands/wrists/arms simply don't react so well (especially my fretting hand) towards static stretching before playing.

Over the years I've learned that, when it comes to guitar, what tends to work for others isn't always universal, and can slow your progress if you don't experiment.


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Ben Higgins
post Mar 20 2012, 06:41 PM
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QUOTE (derper @ Mar 20 2012, 05:19 PM) *
Ben, I find it interesting to learn that you don't stretch....although, getting the muscles warm and loose is really the most important.


Yeah.. the only real stretching is when I'm playing big chord shapes, like my Picking Arpeggios lesson.. you're using the fingers as they're intended and stretching them naturally at the same time. Using arpeggiated chords for warm ups is a good way of starting things off smile.gif

Do a search about static stretching and dynamic stretching.. it's commonly accepted in the sport/athletic world these days that static stretching is best done after any work out.


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SirJamsalot
post Mar 20 2012, 07:28 PM
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I do speed drills ~ I'm not very fast, but I've seen a marked increase in my overall speed (for the lick below anyways) over the past 3 months by doing repetitive licks to a metronome and going for burnout about 2x a week - by burn out I mean setting the metronome at the highest speed I can play and "barely keep up with", for up to a minute - then rinse and repeat several times. Petrucci says bursts are very important and perhaps I'll work those in as well, but at the moment I've just been working on these sustained exercises.

About 3 months ago, I could only do this lick at 110 bpm. Over the course of 3 months, I worked my bpm on this lick up to 130, and can sustain it on one string for about a minute. This doesn't mean I increased the speed at which I can do scales though! It just means (I think), my reflexes are increasing to keep up with the demand (on this particular lick?) Also, I think a contributing factor is that my motor skills have adopted the pattern so I can play it without thinking about it ~ instead of thinking about the pattern now, I can think about how lightly I can fret, and how best to minimize the motion of my picking hand (just gliding over the top of the string).



Also, I've found that my hands actually get the most tired after just jamming to backing track ~ exercises like the above don't really fatigue my hands like a 5 minute jam to a backing track. The more I jam, bending strings, and getting to positions in time, really seem to build strength and the next time I play, my hands feel stronger than if i had not jammed the prior week.

Just what I've noticed lately about my playing.

Chris


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Todd Simpson
post Mar 20 2012, 08:38 PM
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This is my kinda thread! smile.gif We talk about this very topic for hours on end during Vid Chats. It's CRUUUUUCCIIAAAALLLLL!

Some great advice here so far. Staying relaxed is something you have to almost fight for which sounds odd. The body wants to tense up at speed so you have to force it to relax and stay centered, and controlled. The calm amidst the storm.

Quick tips!

*Choke up on your picks during training especially (only leave a bit of pick head sticking out)

*Try to pick from the thumb/finger, and Wrist. Don't let your tension, drive go above your wrist. Or as I'm always yelling
"PICK FROM THE WRIST DOWN! NOT ELBOW UP! smile.gif

*Try sharpening up a pick a bit or buying one thats sharp at least for training. Helps quite a bit.

*Warm up/cool down. Everytime.

*Show up on Saturday for enough picking drills to burn your hand/arm/face off! wink.gif 5PM EST/10PM CET video chat room.

Try these from last week to work on inside outside picking without turning your picking hand "Inside out"

http://bit.ly/gmclesson101


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dark dude
post Mar 20 2012, 11:00 PM
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QUOTE (SirJamsalot @ Mar 20 2012, 06:28 PM) *
I do speed drills ~ I'm not very fast, but I've seen a marked increase in my overall speed (for the lick below anyways) over the past 3 months by doing repetitive licks to a metronome and going for burnout about 2x a week - by burn out I mean setting the metronome at the highest speed I can play and "barely keep up with", for up to a minute - then rinse and repeat several times. Petrucci says bursts are very important and perhaps I'll work those in as well, but at the moment I've just been working on these sustained exercises.

About 3 months ago, I could only do this lick at 110 bpm. Over the course of 3 months, I worked my bpm on this lick up to 130, and can sustain it on one string for about a minute. This doesn't mean I increased the speed at which I can do scales though! It just means (I think), my reflexes are increasing to keep up with the demand (on this particular lick?) Also, I think a contributing factor is that my motor skills have adopted the pattern so I can play it without thinking about it ~ instead of thinking about the pattern now, I can think about how lightly I can fret, and how best to minimize the motion of my picking hand (just gliding over the top of the string).

Yeah, you're definitely on the right track - keep that up.

This post has been edited by dark dude: Mar 20 2012, 11:00 PM


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Ben Higgins
post Mar 21 2012, 09:20 AM
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QUOTE (SirJamsalot @ Mar 20 2012, 06:28 PM) *
Also, I've found that my hands actually get the most tired after just jamming to backing track ~ exercises like the above don't really fatigue my hands like a 5 minute jam to a backing track. The more I jam, bending strings, and getting to positions in time, really seem to build strength and the next time I play, my hands feel stronger than if i had not jammed the prior week.

Just what I've noticed lately about my playing.

Chris


Cool info, Chris.. thanks for sharing. smile.gif

Yeah I totally agree with you that the most tiring thing is general soloing. It's all the bends and different things your hands have gotta do, not just one technique. If you spend time going over a solo again and again you'll know about it !


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Cosmin Lupu
post Mar 21 2012, 09:35 AM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Mar 21 2012, 08:20 AM) *
Cool info, Chris.. thanks for sharing. smile.gif

Yeah I totally agree with you that the most tiring thing is general soloing. It's all the bends and different things your hands have gotta do, not just one technique. If you spend time going over a solo again and again you'll know about it !


True words Ben, it's shifting through the various techniques and keeping a steady tempo that create the stamina consumption


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