Left hand stability

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niasla
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Left hand stability

Post by niasla » Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:21 am

Hi everybody !

I was wondering, If I ask "What are the elements that affect left hand stability and precision?" how would you define them ?
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Non Tabius
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by Non Tabius » Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:48 am

I can't can't think of a definition other than "practice makes perfect".The correct thumb and wrist/fingers positioning are a major factor of course, but that is what practicing scales and arpeggios is all about on any instrument.Getting those fingers to coordinate through continuous effective practice.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:42 pm

Posture (your left hand is why we hold the guitar like that) and the related thing of tension.
And, depending how one may have been taught about this, being prepared to modify elbow and wrist to facilitate ease of finger motion, disposition, stretch etc.
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lagartija
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by lagartija » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:56 pm

It is difficult to know how to answer your question as it is a bit vague.

My teacher had me look at how I was placing my elbow. If the elbow is straight below the hand, the hand will have one balance. If the elbow is tipped toward the body, there is more weight toward the pinky side of the hand. If the elbow is tipped away from the body, there is more weight toward the index finger side. Often to reach particular notes, barre or execute a slur we have to favor one side of the hand or the other. Without thinking about it, my default position was to have my elbow closer to my body, which did not always allow me to use my hand efficiently. I did not have a problem with my thumb position, but some people do, so awareness of that can be helpful too.
Unless you have very large hands and can reach everywhere easily, being aware of your hand balance and how to change it will help bring ease into your playing. Once you are aware of hand balance, you become aware of stability and when you don't have it. I realized that as a small person with small hands, I cannot have a static hand balance position. Now I use those position changes to aid musical expression (vibrato in passing from one to another) and increase ease in playing.
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lagartija
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by lagartija » Sun Sep 10, 2017 1:00 pm

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:42 pm
Posture (your left hand is why we hold the guitar like that) and the related thing of tension.
And, depending how one may have been taught about this, being prepared to modify elbow and wrist to facilitate ease of finger motion, disposition, stretch etc.
I see that Stephen's shorter answer beat me to it. ;-)
He is a teacher, so listen to him. I'm just offering my own student's experience of basically the same teaching he is describing.
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Robin
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by Robin » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:07 pm

niasla wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:21 am
Hi everybody !

I was wondering, If I ask "What are the elements that affect left hand stability and precision?" how would you define them ?
While this is a wide open question, it is a question worth considering. I've thought about these things but not in an organized way in order to determine specific elements and definitions. I'm currently returning to teaching guitar after a nearly four year haitus; it will be important for me to break down and prioritize the elements of left hand development.

My initial thought is that there are two primary areas of development: position and function.

Position: The use of a left hand position that is optimal for the task at hand for the specific student attempting the task.
Positioning concepts would include: alignment of wrist, elbow, shoulder in relation to hand, angle of hand to guitar neck (pronation, supination, parallel/neutral), placement of thumb, balance. Seating position, posture, position of guitar are key in setting up the body to be ready to use the left hand well.

Function: The placement of the individual fingers on the necessary frets to complete the task at hand for the specific student attempting the task.
Functional concepts would include: flexibility, stretch between fingers, finger independence, co-ordination of finger exchanges/movement. These skills can be nurtured through directed repertoire, etude or technical studes.

Position and function need to perform a delicate dance for the player to be able to play with rhythmic control, articulation and musical style.

Thank you for sharing this topic. I'll be thinking more about this.

Robin
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niasla
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by niasla » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:19 am

Thank you very much for such rich answers !
Indeed, my intention is to increase "awareness" in this topic as I feel I'm kind of suffering from it and haven't found much info about it.
Elbow for example is one that I've totally ignored. Or in general as Stephen said:
And, depending how one may have been taught about this, being prepared to modify elbow and wrist to facilitate ease of finger motion, disposition, stretch etc.
IMHO the words "being prepared" are crucial !

I was for multiple years a self taught student and now since 7 months started learning with a teacher.
I do execute pieces such as Villa Lobos Etude 1, Prelude 1, BWV 999 Prelude but sometimes my left hand at certain point of the execution goes "out of balance" and loses stability.

Thanks again !
Jean-Luc Joie Alma 2011

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Re: Left hand stability

Post by llch » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:19 am

Perhaps the right answer for stability would be control? Losing control at any point is always not a good sign - whether it means exerting more energy than required (pressing with much more tension than really needed), relying on purely muscle memory and not being in control?

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Re: Left hand stability

Post by niasla » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:14 am

I kind of feel there are so much parameters to tune to really control the fretboard .....
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by Rasputin » Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:10 am

lagartija wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:56 pm
My teacher had me look at how I was placing my elbow. If the elbow is straight below the hand, the hand will have one balance. If the elbow is tipped toward the body, there is more weight toward the pinky side of the hand. If the elbow is tipped away from the body, there is more weight toward the index finger side. Often to reach particular notes, barre or execute a slur we have to favor one side of the hand or the other. Without thinking about it, my default position was to have my elbow closer to my body, which did not always allow me to use my hand efficiently. I did not have a problem with my thumb position, but some people do, so awareness of that can be helpful too.
Unless you have very large hands and can reach everywhere easily, being aware of your hand balance and how to change it will help bring ease into your playing. Once you are aware of hand balance, you become aware of stability and when you don't have it. I realized that as a small person with small hands, I cannot have a static hand balance position. Now I use those position changes to aid musical expression (vibrato in passing from one to another) and increase ease in playing.
I've also been experimenting with hand position recently, or at least trying to notice a bit more when my hand has to move so that my fingers can get where they need to go. I hadn't really linked this with elbow position - I was thinking more of the wrist - but I guess it is basically the same thing. Have you ever come across any exercises to develop awareness / control of this?

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Larry McDonald
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by Larry McDonald » Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:04 pm

Hi,
I'm aware of my left-hand position with regard to the guitar neck. In general terms...

Pronated -a counter clock-wise wrist rotation/presentation.
Default -an unrotated, parallel presentation
Supinated - a clockwise wrist rotation/presentation

I often write these in the score so I practice consistent hand shapes.

all the best,
Lare
Dr. Lawrence A. McDonald, D.M.A., Art Kaplan Fellow
Author of The Conservatory Tutor for Guitar
2008 Michael Thames Cd/Br
Royal Conservatory Advanced Guitar Instructor
Royal Conservatory Advanced Theory Instructor

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lagartija
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by lagartija » Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:33 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:10 am
lagartija wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:56 pm
My teacher had me look at how I was placing my elbow. If the elbow is straight below the hand, the hand will have one balance. If the elbow is tipped toward the body, there is more weight toward the pinky side of the hand. If the elbow is tipped away from the body, there is more weight toward the index finger side. Often to reach particular notes, barre or execute a slur we have to favor one side of the hand or the other. Without thinking about it, my default position was to have my elbow closer to my body, which did not always allow me to use my hand efficiently. I did not have a problem with my thumb position, but some people do, so awareness of that can be helpful too.
Unless you have very large hands and can reach everywhere easily, being aware of your hand balance and how to change it will help bring ease into your playing. Once you are aware of hand balance, you become aware of stability and when you don't have it. I realized that as a small person with small hands, I cannot have a static hand balance position. Now I use those position changes to aid musical expression (vibrato in passing from one to another) and increase ease in playing.
I've also been experimenting with hand position recently, or at least trying to notice a bit more when my hand has to move so that my fingers can get where they need to go. I hadn't really linked this with elbow position - I was thinking more of the wrist - but I guess it is basically the same thing. Have you ever come across any exercises to develop awareness / control of this?
The first way to develop awareness of hand balance was to play scale patterns in position. I started in fifth position. Noticing how I moved from index finger to pinky and from one string to the other. Did I move my elbow at all or not? Did I change my hand balance? Did I need to? Then move down in position and see what changes...or not. By the time I got to first position, it was clear that my original default position was not what I should use in first position for best efficiency and ease. Then my teacher showed me how to take a passage that was causing me difficulty and look at how I was moving my elbow (or not) and what the presentation was of my hand. Sometimes, moving my elbow position a tiny bit after playing one part, put my fingers right over the string or fret I needed next. Then I found that I did not miss the notes that were giving trouble before, there was more ease in the movement and that gave me the room I needed for better musical expression. Really, what he was doing was taking my attention and focus off of *only* the fingers and having me be more aware of the forearm and elbow and how that changed the presentation of my hand. The playing of chromatic scales in different positions allowed me to build this movement and adjustment into my basic technique. The scales are played while intentionally moving the elbow to place the fingers on the frets and to pivot to the next string. It took about 5 minutes a day for about a week or two to retrain that default I had of the immobile elbow to one where I am free to move. I still have to maintain it from time to time, but it is slowly being integrated into my basic playing technique.
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by Rasputin » Sun Sep 17, 2017 10:20 am

Thanks.

I think it might make sense to practice shifting between hand positions in the same way you might practice shifting between fretboard positions. I am going to note any examples I come across and make an exercise.

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lagartija
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by lagartija » Sun Sep 17, 2017 11:42 am

Rasputin wrote:
Sun Sep 17, 2017 10:20 am
Thanks.

I think it might make sense to practice shifting between hand positions in the same way you might practice shifting between fretboard positions. I am going to note any examples I come across and make an exercise.
Yes, of course shifting from one position to another on the fretboard is a good thing to practice,too. My teacher had me focus on the sensation of the weight of the arm and the elbow dropping as you shift to higher position. I know there are teachers who instruct one to lead with the elbow in the direction of the shift. So that would be a slight away from body motion with the elbow as one shifts toward first position and slight elbow motion toward the body as one shifts to higher position.
I think it is useful to practice both position shifting and the motions within a position, freeing up the elbow and allowing the best presentation of the hand for the job you want it to do. I would practice each separately, but use them together in solving a problem passage. They really are two sides of the same coin, IMO.
:-)
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Robin
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Re: Left hand stability

Post by Robin » Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:19 pm

Regarding positioning of the elbow:

Keep in mind that the elbow itself is a hinge joint. The only thing that it can do is move the forearm/hand closer or in toward the shoulder (flexion) or out from or away from the shoulder (extension). When we speak of adjusting the position of the elbow to balance our left hand or to match up with our left hand position, what we are really adjusting is our shoulder alignment as well as wrist position. The left hand needs both of these joints to adjust accordingly to provide proper support. When we see the elbow visually lining up with our left hand position, it is an indicator that the shoulder and wrist have adjusted. However, if only the shoulder or only the wrist have adjusted, the elbow could still be aligned, yet the position of the left hand might remain unstable. Shoulder, elbow and wrist need to work together fluently to support the left hand.

The shoulder joints are ball joints. They are able to move the arm closer to and away from the body, forward and backward plus they move in circular motion allowing for a variety of positions and angles. The ability of our shoulder joint to support the left hand is directly related to the player's sitting position and the size and position of the guitar.

The wrist is also a complicated joint. It can flex (move toward the forearm) and extend (move away from the forearm). In conjunction with the forearm, it can rotate outward toward the thumb (abduction or pronation) and rotate inward toward the pinky (adduction or supination).

Practicing in front of a full length mirror or video recording yourself practicing a short segment are helpful ways to evaluate the "big picture" of what is actually happening as you play. What the left hand does on the guitar is intricate and detailed but the support provided by the wrist, forearm, elbow, shoulder and whole body position are significant to it's function.

That's your anatomy lesson for today. And now back to the previously scheduled programming....

Robin
So much music, so little time.

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