building strength for barre chords

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marymezzo
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Re: building strength for barre chords

Postby marymezzo » Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:54 pm

Thanks so much for this thread. I've been feeling frustrated about my barre chords, and these recommendations and links are very helpful. Kevin Gallager's videos in particular are excellent.

pmangos
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Location: Tampa FL USA

Re: building strength for barre chords

Postby pmangos » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:03 am

There are many barre-centric exercises available but my favorite is Sor's study op 29, #13. It is a strenuous endurance piece for the left hand but an excellent exercise in pacing and transitioning barre positions across the fretboard. And one of the most beautiful Sor pieces in my opinion! Definitely worth incorporating into your daily practice routine. Nice analysis and micro-studies courtesy of CG magazine here:

http://classicalguitarmagazine.com/meth ... h-segovia/

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marymezzo
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Re: building strength for barre chords

Postby marymezzo » Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:50 am

pmangos--thank you so much for your advice and for the link to CG mag!

I will investigate both.

Luis_Br
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Re: building strength for barre chords

Postby Luis_Br » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:07 pm

Most important thing is the way you do, not what you do. That is the reason a good teacher is important to guide through any exercises.

Developing strength is ok, but only after you know how to properly do it, or you will overstress your muscles and hinder your movements. To me, best exercises were those for independent control of each finger pressure part over individual strings, as taught by Pavel Steidl in a masterclass. Should learn to press only with last segment (from tip), middle segment or base segment. In several times you don't need pressing the full finger, but only some parts.

For example, practice pressing strings 1 and 2 with base of finger flexing knuckle joint (first segment) while keeping tip and middle joint totally relaxed. Also practice press strings 5 and 6 with tip in two different ways: 1 - press from tip, 2 - press from middle joint articulation with collapsing tip. Be sure also relaxing knuckle (learn to press only middle part or tip of finger, independently). Also keep attention to relaxing other fingers, back of hand, thumb, wrist, shoulder etc. Also practice pressing middle strings with middle part of finger through KJ flexing while relaxing upper finger part, or sometimes with pressing middle finger part together (depends which strings need pressing).

Start pressing lightly, with pizzicato kind of sound. Then evolve to more pressing, with maybe some buzz. Then go to full press. After that you can develop some more strength, to be sure there will be no buzz. But controlled strength for the correct individual muscles you carefully desire, don't go directly for a full uncontrolled brute force.

Dissociation muscle control and the awareness of each string pressing feeling will be enough for you to develop the right way of doing the barre without the need for knowing about positioning or any other tip, in my experience. With correct control and awareness, you learn by yourself which solution works better in terms of positioning etc., because you develop the ability to correctly feel the easier way from inside out.

I am totally against pressing with whole arm, as taught by some players, since it overstresses finger muscles. You press from finger, arm weight is used, but just enough to prevent hand moving up as a reaction from fingerboard. String feeling and finger detailed sensation gives you the control for just right amount of strength to press, and you equilibrate with arm weight, rather than the brute force of whole arm makes your poor fingers hold its massive unnecessary weight.

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Tom Poore
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Re: building strength for barre chords

Postby Tom Poore » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:51 pm

This might be helpful:

http://www.pooretom.com/learningbarchord.html

Since I posted this article, it’s become the most popular page on my website. Apparently a lot of people surf the internet looking for advice on bar chords.

Reading this thread, there are two things I’d like to add:

• Many have commented that playing a good bar chord isn’t a matter of strength. While I understand that there are good reasons for saying this, it might be misleading and frustrating to say this to someone who can’t yet correctly do a bar. To an extent, strength is a necessary part of playing a bar. Granted, it’s not the only thing, and brute force certainly is the wrong way to go. I’m merely pointing out that it’s inaccurate to tell a novice that strength isn’t an issue.

• At the risk of sparking an endless argument and derailing this discussion, I believe arm weight is one of the most useless of concepts in guitar playing. This isn’t the place to argue the point. So I’ll simply say that it’s an idea borrowed from piano playing—an instrument for which arm weight is a useful concept, and foisted onto the guitar—an instrument for which arm weight is almost entirely useless.

Okay, I’ll now go hide under my bed.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA

Luis_Br
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Re: building strength for barre chords

Postby Luis_Br » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:35 pm

Tom, you always contribute with great advice. I agree with you about strength, I am not sure on the arm weight, it actually requires better definition, I think. I just want to clarify my point for the beginners.

I began telling developing strength is ok. And in fourth paragraph of my previous post I recommend developing it, including telling to develop strength for pressing further than necessary. Maybe it is just about the word used, which resembles me a "pumping nylon" approach, sorry for the joke. It is obviously true any pressing need some muscle "strength" to build up, from a simple one finger press, to a full barre. It is quite obvious pressing 6 strings at once require more strength than pressing just one. A simple math results it would require 6 times the strength...

My biggest concern is specially after experiencing several beginners and intermediate players having hand injuries because practicing barre "strengthening" exercises, sometimes pure guitar practice, sometimes muscle exercises without the guitar. So I specially advice on developing it with the right movements and muscles, giving special care on how one should do it, rather than on strength. Most beginners can't realize the details. This is something hard to understand and control without a face to face lesson with a good teacher who can address those things. I just think addressing any strengthening exercise is a bit dangerous without personal careful guidance and I feel compelled to make this warning.

I also encourage a careful selection of pieces, the repertoire is huge, we should start developing other kinds of coordination and strength, later going to half and incomplete barres, before going to the full and more difficult ones, in a way we shouldn't care as much developing strength in a specific way. What I mean is that I think it is possible to build it up gradually without turning it into a huge concern. I would only recommend pieces with lots of barres to an intermediate to advanced player.

Several simple pop chords that require barres can be done with curved finger barres, removing great part of necessary strength, or can be rearranged to easier chord solutions (easier technically, but that might be musically superior), while the beginner gradually develop finger strength for the harder barres. To me developing a good full barre is like developing a good tremolo, it is not something to a beginner.


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