GorillaStrum wrote:I watched this video... the instructor has some good points.
I think that it is important to focus on the arm... it's not a "pull", it's a "set" (a slight adjustment toward your elbow to apply pressure) when you place your index finger on the fretboard set you arm/elbow position and stop pulling. When placing your finger on the fretboard, be consistent (Same thing, every time) and try not to use your second finger to add additional pressure, this only alters the position of your hand (you'll need your 2nd finger for something else).
I find my second finger does this almost automatically, at least when I am playing an actual piece of music instead of just practicing barres (I am trying out Sor's B minor study at the moment, and cannot manage any of the barres in it properly). I am now working on trying not to make that mistake, but I find that without that second finger I cannot get a single clean note out of the barre.
Don't adjust your knuckle except when performing a half barre. I understand the frustration and I see it many times a month with my students, but it WILL come. When your arm/hand gets tired, stop, walk away and come back... attempting to learn a barre chord with a tired arm/hand does no good.
The above seems to confirm to me that contrary to an often expressed opinion, a certain amount of strength and stamina in the hand IS in fact a factor, and one needs to work on that as well.
Another very big problem I experience with barres is that my fingers simply refuse to move independently, especially on some of those rather awkward barres in the Sor study I refer to above. Whenever I have to shift to a new finger position while holding down a barre with the first finger, the first finger quite automatically shifts out of position. I cannot do it any other way; it is literally impossible to hold it straight. I find it difficult to practice such shifts, because my hand starts cramping within a second or two of trying out a barre, so I cannot do the normal "slow practice" thing.
Thus I found the studies that Kevin's video refers to to be vastly too difficult for me: I cannot get a note out of them.
I now try to practice straightforward "pop" chords, i.e. just your everyday A, B, C etc barre chords of the sort routinely used in pop music. Even those I find almost unplayable: if I start with A, then by the time I reach C or D my hand is cramping so much I cannot play another note and it kind of messes up the whole rest of my practice session. And I run into the same problem with these that I mention above: I cannot shift from one to another without changing my index finger position. E.g. I find it absolutely impossible to go back and forth from, say, A major and A minor, without my index finger shifting around wildly. This happens even when I am fresh, not to even mention when my hand is tired (as it usually is after half a minute or so of playing these chords!)
So in summary, barre chords are at the moment the bane of my existence. They actually have been for years, but I could put off tackling them because I was playing easy pieces anyway. However, I am now at the point where I think I can tackle some of the lower intermediate literature, and for much of that, barres are essential. But I find I cannot follow the normal progression of climbing the stairs one at a time, because even the first one is too high for me to reach!