How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
Forum rules
IV Laws governing the quotation/citation of music


For discussion of studies, scales, arpeggios and theory.
PoYi
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:16 am

How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Post by PoYi » Sat Mar 16, 2019 4:07 am

I am new to classical guitar and wasn't aware of sizing the guitar with reference to my hand size.
I bought a typical guitar with my index finger just fit the width of the fret. But when I try the bar exercises, it's hard to hit all the strings for a good sound, especially the 4th string where the joint sits. I wonder
1. Is there any exercise for increasing my ability to control my fingers such that when I "touch" the strings, I really am "hitting" the string?
2. Is it ok if I am not able to hit all the strings at one time? But then I will need to rest my joint on the string I don't have to hit, which may lead to an obvious shift of my left hand on the fret. Would that be normal?

AKim
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:31 pm
Location: Bellingham, WA

Re: How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Post by AKim » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:21 am

Are you new to all stringed instruments in general or just guitar? Time, practice, experience will help. Also, general grip exercises such as squeezing a ball or putty can help with hand and arm strength. As your fingers get stronger and more dexterous, your ability to hold finger positions cleanly will improve.

PoYi
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:16 am

Re: How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Post by PoYi » Sat Apr 27, 2019 5:12 pm

I am new to stringed instruments. Thanks for your advice AKim!

celestemcc
Posts: 1318
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 5:43 pm

Re: How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Post by celestemcc » Sat Apr 27, 2019 5:34 pm

Barring the first fret is VERY difficult -- for everyone! Even the most skilled will make it look easy, but it's no one's favorite. Time will help. Practicing a barred measure up and down the fingerboard can help a lot: high on the neck it's easier, then you work your way down. Also be very sure of your left hand thumb, and that the neck is not resting in the "web" between your thumb and index. It's not a just a matter of mere grip strength, it's also a finesse which will just take time and practice. Sometimes you're better barring with the side of your index finger, where you won't have the problem with that "gap" at the joint. Sometimes, if it's a half-barre or has a large stretch to a higher note, you need to use the bottom (flat) side of the finger. Arm position is a factor too -- if your elbow is further from your torso it can help arch the wrist better to get the barre in place. Anyway: be patient with yourself, because it's just not easy, but good to start working on it early!
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
1978 Ramirez 1a cedar

dtoh
Posts: 342
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:54 pm

Re: How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Post by dtoh » Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:16 am

It all about strength and dexterity in you hand muscles. Depending on your age, physiology and amount/quality of practice, it will take anywhere from one year to five years to develop these muscles. Grip exercises won't help. They develop and encourage overuse of the muscles in your forearm. The muscles you need to work on are the lumbricals and interossei in your hand.

Karen
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2016 12:11 am
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Post by Karen » Sun Apr 28, 2019 5:32 pm

I’m surprised no-one has chimed in here yet about this, but if you are new to stringed instruments, I suggest you needn’t worry about barres yet. I am not a teacher, but doing barres don’t show up in the Royal Conservatory books until Level 3, and even then they are easy ones. By that level your hands are beginning to have the strength and flexibility to do them, developed by the progressive nature of the course. There is lots of other technique worthy of your time before this :)

User avatar
Jacek A. Rochacki
Posts: 1440
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:44 pm
Location: Bydgoszcz, Poland, Europe.

Re: How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Post by Jacek A. Rochacki » Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:01 pm

- let me echo what @Karen says above. And in many cases it is not the question of strenght as such but more of the technique - right way of placing barre'ying finger by the fret, usage of the fleshy part of this finger etc.
Antonio Picado, model 60, 2015, Cedar/IRW. Scale 640 mm.
Antonio Picado, model 62, 2018, Cedar/Madagascar Palosanto. Scale 640 mm. Doble Tapa.

User avatar
bacsidoan
Posts: 2755
Joined: Sun May 10, 2009 1:59 am
Location: Ohio, US

Re: How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Post by bacsidoan » Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:57 pm

Jacek A. Rochacki wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:01 pm
- let me echo what @Karen says above. And in many cases it is not the question of strenght as such but more of the technique - right way of placing barre'ying finger by the fret, usage of the fleshy part of this finger etc.
I agree. In fact the most common mistake is too much pressure at the wrong place, angle etc. You'd better invest your time on practicing and money on obtain a guitar with best playability that suits your body habitus.

TomOphir1
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue May 21, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: Bristol, Uk

Re: How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Post by TomOphir1 » Wed May 22, 2019 7:02 pm

I think bringing your natural body weight of your arm and shoulders and gravity into play can help with barres. Experiment with different positions. Practice helps a lot! just keep at it

Todd Tipton
Teacher
Posts: 470
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2008 3:21 pm
Location: Charlotte, NC, USA

Re: How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Post by Todd Tipton » Fri May 24, 2019 1:58 pm

Karen wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 5:32 pm
I’m surprised no-one has chimed in here yet about this, but if you are new to stringed instruments, I suggest you needn’t worry about barres yet. I am not a teacher, but doing barres don’t show up in the Royal Conservatory books until Level 3, and even then they are easy ones. By that level your hands are beginning to have the strength and flexibility to do them, developed by the progressive nature of the course. There is lots of other technique worthy of your time before this :)
This is a great reply Karen, as are many of the other posts. Even going back to the RCM preparatory book prior to grade 1 first requires a great deal of work. There is nothing preparatory or fundamental about this at all. Often the left hand isn't even introduced until the second lesson. Even then, it is using a single finger to play a single note thus beginning to develop a foundation for all left hand work in the future. Involving 2 left hand fingers is the next logical step where a student begins to learn how to use the entire arm to maintain the center of gravity and maintain leverage for weaker fingers. And from there, basic fundamentals and foundations are established under the guidance of a competent teacher. A barre is merely a result of establishing those fundamentals and foundations and is much later down the road. A barre isn't something a student just jumps into and tries to do. A student in this situation needs to take several steps back. It is the thousand things one couldn't think of that are affected and directly impacts all future playing. The good news is, there is a wealth of preparatory repertoire written by many contemporary composers as well as older repertoire. This music is an absolute joy to play and will please any audience. And the time it takes to prepare before beginning to explore this repertoire can be measured in weeks and not months. And as an advanced player and speaking from experience myself: these very things that are learned the first few weeks are skills, tools, and methods that I use every single day in order to continue overcoming obstacles.

Happy Practicing! :D
Dr. Todd Tipton, Noda Guitar Studio
Charlotte, NC, USA (available via Skype)

dtoh
Posts: 342
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:54 pm

Re: How to practice finger strength for small fingers?

Post by dtoh » Sun May 26, 2019 5:13 am

Karen wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 5:32 pm
I’m surprised no-one has chimed in here yet about this, but if you are new to stringed instruments, I suggest you needn’t worry about barres yet. I am not a teacher, but doing barres don’t show up in the Royal Conservatory books until Level 3, and even then they are easy ones. By that level your hands are beginning to have the strength and flexibility to do them, developed by the progressive nature of the course. There is lots of other technique worthy of your time before this :)
Totally agree. Until you have developed strength and dexterity in you intrinsic hand muscles, you won't be able to play barres correctly. For most people it takes at least a couple of years..often times longer. Until then you're wasting your time working on barres.

Return to “Classical Guitar technique”