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Exercises for the guitarist

Updated March 3, 2005

Easy, isn't it? Isn't it?

Sometimes easy is as easy does. Sounds like Forrest Gump...

Look at the stretch on that weird guy in the photo above. It is actually a chord he's playing. I know because he be me. The d string and (if I remember correctly) the g string were open and sounding. Why is this remarkable? With a stretch like that, many folks would find their knuckles and fingers collapsing. Not mine. Why? I had already formulated the exercises you'll see later on and had practiced them daily for three years at the time the photo was taken in 1983.

Take a look at the first measure of 'B' section of Antonio Lauro's Venezuelan Waltz Number 2. Pretty straight forward. (It's in d major, by the way, so mentally supply the correct sharps to the sample.) Unless you already know the piece, try playing it. Try playing it while keeping that F# held by your first finger and keep your fourth finger on the C#. Oh, and don't forget the second finger on the D on the second string. Are the open D and open E ringing for their intended durations? If you're a good player, they probably are. Many talented and well-practiced students can't seem to get it all to hang together.

Why? Well, it comes down to the simple fact that it's hard to do two things at once with your hand. Two things at once? What is this weird guy talking about? Here's the answer -- it is hard to hold one's first finger all the way over on that F# half note while playing the D on the second string -- and planting the fourth finger on the C# on the third string, all the while keeping enough finger arch and finger accuracy to let the aforementioned D and E open strings ring out when called upon to do so. Gee, I guess that's more than two things going on in this simple little measure!

What is required is the ability to 'do two things at once' with the left hand. These two things? Accurate preparation of the notes to follow and clean articulation of the ones already in use (if you get my drift.) Please take a second look at my accuracy article elsewhere on this website. You will find the following sequence of exercises. These are designed to make you fingers work independently of each other. One finger remains planted while the others are doing something unrelated.

 

Exercise Five: Place your first finger on the first string, first fret. Then with your first finger remaining on that note, play the following exercise. (5a) Place your second finger on the second fret, first string. Then with your finger remaining on that note, play the following exercise. (5b)


Place your third finger on the first string, third fret. Then with that finger remaining on that note, play the following exercise. (5c)





If your third finger collapses on exercise five c, it is due to the fact that your fourth finger is weak and dependent upon your third finger. Your hand wants to move both fingers togeth­er to make up for the weakness of the fourth finger.

Place your fourth finger on the first string, fourth fret. Then with your finger remaining on that note, play the following exercise. (5d)



These little nuggets are worth repeating.


Don't own the Lauro Waltzes? You're missing some good technical workouts and some very pleasant music!

 

Antonio Lauro: Works for Guitar, Volume 1 by Antonio Lauro. For Guitar (Classical). solos. Latin American. Level: Intermediate-Advanced. Book. Size 9.12x12.25. 32 pages. Published by Caroni Music. (C2001)
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These little nuggets are worth repeating. Also recommended: Scott Tennant's Pumping Nylon book. He is a man after my own heart, using examples in the standard repertoire and formulating solid exercises to help tame thse standard rep. trouble spots.

Pumping Nylon (Book) - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com Pumping Nylon (Book) (The Classical Guitarist's Technique Handbook) Edited by Nathaniel Gunod, written by Scott Tennant. For classical guitar. Format: instructional book. With standard guitar notation, introductory text, instructional text, illustrations, musical examples and performance notes. Technique. Series: National Guitar Workshop. 95 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by Alfred Publishing. (AP.7000)
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For scholarly transcriptions and free sheet music, click the following link:


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