Left hand finger independence

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.
andrew382
Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:19 pm

Left hand finger independence

Post by andrew382 » Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:23 am

I've noticed that by certain passages (for instance the first position of any minor pentatonic) it's easier to lift the 3rd finger before you have to play again 1 3 on a thiner string if you use the pinky as an anchor/pivot point. So if I have to play 1 4 1 3 1 3 I just release the pressure from the 4th and play 1 3 lifting the 4th just when the 3rd frets on the next string. It takes much less effort and you don't have to bother about the pinky anymore. Is this ok or is it somehow a way of cheating by avoiding to hold your pinky above the string as it doesn't play?

This is not necessarily a classical guitar related problem but it could be as the left hand technique is somehow similar when playing scales. I'm currently obsessed with the left hand finger alignment and independence. The most simple exercises or etudes like the ones from Sven Eythorsson's "First guitar milestone" show you that you sometimes have to go back to the roots and fix the bugs in order to get to the next level.

If I could play all scales like this...ideally with the pinky in the air, or as in these videos resting on the upper string as the 3rd plays to prevent its curling...it would be awesome.


User avatar
Christopher Langley
Student of the online lessons
Posts: 899
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:59 pm
Location: Missouri

Re: Left hand finger independence

Post by Christopher Langley » Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:39 am

Electric guitar is generally not allowed here. :desole: Beautiful guitar and it's not bothering me any.

I thought I had some advice, but I'm not sure. Looks and sounds like a normal scale to me.
Let there be songs to fill the air.

andrew382
Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:19 pm

Re: Left hand finger independence

Post by andrew382 » Sat Mar 30, 2019 4:02 am

Christopher Langley wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 2:39 am
Electric guitar is generally not allowed here. :desole: Beautiful guitar and it's not bothering me any.

I thought I had some advice, but I'm not sure. Looks and sounds like a normal scale to me.
I'm sorry if I broke the rules of this forum but I thought someone was going to ask sooner or later to actually show what I'm dealing with because it's pretty hard to picture in your head the problem someone described using just words. I'm going to record it with the classical guitar if this is a problem.

Well it looks like a normal scale but...

When going with the finger combination 1 3 from high to low E I have no problem moving the 3rd finger above the fret from the next string that has to play and keeping at the same time the pinky straight. However when going back from low to high E the pinky curls (in my opinion) more than it should and the movement of the 3rd finger is not smooth anymore but rather like a twitch or a spasm in the sense that I cannot slow down the finger's descending movement.

The most efficient (until now) I could fix this was by propping the pinky on the adjacent thicker string. This helps me move the 3rd finger down to the adjacent thinner string with the least amount of effort and most naturally.

Someone described in one the recent topics the issue as left hand preparation. I would add to the benefits of this method the fact that the fingers that don't have to fret the next note but rather just fretted one come up more easily. I don't know if constantly thinking about left hand preparation is the right way of ingraining technique in your muscle memory but I did experiment with it and I find the method satisfying.

Is it ok to prop finger on adjacent strings instead of trying to hold them exactly above the frets as close to the string as possible. For instance when playing a repetitive finger combination such as 1 3 4 3 1 3 4 3 on let's say the g string I find it more comfortable to lightly touch the b string with the fingerprint part of the finger that is not playing but is waiting for it's turn to fret a note.

ronjazz
Posts: 983
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:10 pm

Re: Left hand finger independence

Post by ronjazz » Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:55 pm

too persnickety: you probably are better off not forcing your fingers into preconceived positions just because of a touch of OCD. using them like little pistons is a better way to achieve accuracy and control, which leads to speed. later on you can mess with touching adjacent strings with another part of you finger if you find it necessary.
Lester Devoe Flamenco Negra
Lester Devoe Flamenco Blanca
Aparicio Flamenco Blanca with RMC pickup
Bartolex 7-string with RMC pickup
Giannini 7-string with Shadow pickup
Sal Pace 7-string archtop

andrew382
Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:19 pm

Re: Left hand finger independence

Post by andrew382 » Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:44 pm

ronjazz wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:55 pm
too persnickety: you probably are better off not forcing your fingers into preconceived positions just because of a touch of OCD. using them like little pistons is a better way to achieve accuracy and control, which leads to speed. later on you can mess with touching adjacent strings with another part of you finger if you find it necessary.
I haven't forced anything. I just found out that it is easier to play with this technique but the downside is that you constantly have to think about it not being a second nature yet. I'm using them as pistons for a while now. So I'm rather extending the inter-phalangeal joint than the metacarpal-phalangeal.

Luis_Br
Posts: 2299
Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:50 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Left hand finger independence

Post by Luis_Br » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:36 pm

I think LH independence exercises are great and important.
The point is muscle dissociation and learning to tense only the required muscles while the non-used finger stays relaxed touching some string.
Forcing some finger to be still over some string is really wrong and may generate problems. Finger must stay there because of relaxing, not by tensing opposite muscles.
I got better concentrating more on keeping non-used muscles relaxed and just letting the working finger do its thing, than the opposite.

I have already mentioned several independence exercises over my posts, with links. I don't have time to look for them now, but I recommend you search:
- Carcassi Op59 - near the half ot the method, you find exercises with fingers 3 or 4 at a pedal note while others play some scales.
- Carlevaro book 4 - you find several fixed fingers exercises
- Pujol's Escuela Razonada book 4 - nice variations of the spyder kind of exercises, which helps indendence and hand positioning (Tennant's Pumping Nylon sais it is from Assads, but the Assads actually learned them from the Pujol's method)
- scales in 3rds, 6ths or 8ves also helps independence and hand positioning alltogether, like you find in Giuliani Op1 (they have similar effect of the spyder ones)
- There is a series of 4 videos at youtube by Pavel Steidl teaching exercises which includes a lot of LH independece in the same philosophy of the above
- There are some videos at youtube from Masterclasses with Marcelo Kayath, in one of them he teaches LH slurs exercises with fixed fingers, also simiar philosophy. It is interesting that a student asked him which are the most valuable exercises in his opinion, and he said those that you can only do well if you keep good hand positioning, so he showed those as well as some for RH which also require good RH positioning.

andrew382
Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:19 pm

Re: Left hand finger independence

Post by andrew382 » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:09 pm

Luis_Br wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:36 pm
I think LH independence exercises are great and important.
The point is muscle dissociation and learning to tense only the required muscles while the non-used finger stays relaxed touching some string.
Forcing some finger to be still over some string is really wrong and may generate problems. Finger must stay there because of relaxing, not by tensing opposite muscles.
I got better concentrating more on keeping non-used muscles relaxed and just letting the working finger do its thing, than the opposite.

I have already mentioned several independence exercises over my posts, with links. I don't have time to look for them now, but I recommend you search:
- Carcassi Op59 - near the half ot the method, you find exercises with fingers 3 or 4 at a pedal note while others play some scales.
- Carlevaro book 4 - you find several fixed fingers exercises
- Pujol's Escuela Razonada book 4 - nice variations of the spyder kind of exercises, which helps indendence and hand positioning (Tennant's Pumping Nylon sais it is from Assads, but the Assads actually learned them from the Pujol's method)
- scales in 3rds, 6ths or 8ves also helps independence and hand positioning alltogether, like you find in Giuliani Op1 (they have similar effect of the spyder ones)
- There is a series of 4 videos at youtube by Pavel Steidl teaching exercises which includes a lot of LH independece in the same philosophy of the above
- There are some videos at youtube from Masterclasses with Marcelo Kayath, in one of them he teaches LH slurs exercises with fixed fingers, also simiar philosophy. It is interesting that a student asked him which are the most valuable exercises in his opinion, and he said those that you can only do well if you keep good hand positioning, so he showed those as well as some for RH which also require good RH positioning.
Well...I know that Carlevaro book. I think that the fixed finger exercises actually force one finger to stay down so it's actually something that both you and I don't agree with.

Luis_Br
Posts: 2299
Joined: Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:50 pm
Location: Brazil

Re: Left hand finger independence

Post by Luis_Br » Sun Mar 31, 2019 12:05 pm

andrew382 wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:09 pm
Well...I know that Carlevaro book. I think that the fixed finger exercises actually force one finger to stay down so it's actually something that both you and I don't agree with.
No, I think they are important exercises. Problem is increasing tension to keep it down forcefully. In all music some finger must stay down sometimes to keep the voicing while others play. It is important to learn how to keep it down in a relaxed way. It is about learning not to force it and detach its control from other fingers. Start doing the exercise with the fixed finger just touching the string in a relaxed way. When you master keeping it relaxed while others play, start pressing it little by little.

Terpfan
Posts: 157
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2017 12:33 am

Re: Left hand finger independence

Post by Terpfan » Wed Apr 03, 2019 1:11 am

Villa Lobos etude #10 is great for left hand finger independence. It is also great for tendonitis. (Getting tendonitis)

Nikos_Greek
Posts: 231
Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:18 am
Location: Vienna, Austria

Re: Left hand finger independence

Post by Nikos_Greek » Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:24 pm

My favourite and most comprehensin´ve book on LH independence is Evangelos Boudounis Vertical exercises.

User avatar
Robin
Posts: 718
Joined: Wed May 28, 2008 11:42 am
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Re: Left hand finger independence

Post by Robin » Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:50 pm

Nikos_Greek wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:24 pm
My favourite and most comprehensin´ve book on LH independence is Evangelos Boudounis Vertical exercises.
Agreed. Excellent, innovative and thorough approaches to developing the left hand. I utilize some of his exercises each day to prepare my left hand.

Robin
So much music, so little time.

Return to “Classical Guitar technique”