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> Educating The Fretting Hand
Ben Higgins
post Aug 27 2015, 04:54 PM
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You may have seen my other post, 5 Common Guitarist Problems. There are a couple of other issues that are also very common with beginner and even intermediate guitar players.

1. Not staying on notes long enough and leaving a pause before before moving to the next note, creating breaks in phrases.
2. Lack of reach. Moving the entire hand in order to reach notes that are relatively close.


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Let's look at the first problem.

1. Not staying on notes long enough and leaving a pause before before moving to the next note, creating breaks in phrases.

This is caused when a player is not yet confident of their movements so they need to have enough time in between moves to "plan ahead" and get their finger to the next position. In order to do this, they end their current note prematurely in order to give themselves time to get to the next note. This creates breaks, or audible pauses in the phrasing. So when they're playing you get a very hesitant sound that isn't smooth and linked together.

One thing we can do to combat this is ensure that we're as familiar with the piece as possible in order to negate the need to think about where we're going next.

The longer term strategy is to practise holding onto notes for as long as possible and then making your movements to other notes as brief as you can. This will take much practise and is the result of years of being confident in your hand movements and abilities. But that doesn't mean you can't start now smile.gif

Putting both of these strategies together will help you to get a smoother playing style, less hesitant and full of less audible pauses.

Let's look at the second issue.

2. Lack of reach. Moving the entire hand in order to reach notes that are relatively close.

I see this quite a lot. If you're a seasoned player and can't remember what this feels like then just allow your fingers to curl inwards where they naturally rest. They'll be staying quite close to each other, probably touching. Now, put that hand on your guitar and instead of extending your reach to hit any notes outside of your hand span, you move your entire hand instead. Not that efficient in the long term.

This severely limits your dexterity and ability to play the things you want to play. There's no quick fix for this issue and it really is just a case of slightly pushing yourself and trying to reach frets with your fingers whilst keeping your hand where it is.

Before you try to increase your reach, though, there is one thing you can do, which is is to work on hammer-ons and pull-offs. You will find it much easier to improve your reach if you strengthen your fingers as they are. The stronger they are, the better they will respond to stretching. It's no use trying to stretch a weak muscle. You'll still be weak at the edge of your reach. Just include more legato playing or hammer / pull trills in your practise and you'll slowly start to see your reach improving. The further your fingers can reach, the less you'll need to shift your entire hand around.

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Aug 27 2015, 04:55 PM


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klasaine
post Aug 29 2015, 11:17 PM
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A great exercise to help with issue #1 (not staying on notes long enough) is to play scales and keep each finger down on the note/string/fret until you need to use it again.

Example: when playing an ascending G major scale, keep your 2nd and 4th fingers down on the sixth string (G and A notes) until you need to use them/place them on notes on the fifth string (the C and the D notes). Continue with this technique.
*Doesn't really work descending.

Here's the scale fingering ...

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This post has been edited by klasaine: Aug 29 2015, 11:18 PM


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