Every guitarist wants to have speedy, nimble fingers. As a beginner you may feel like you’re trying to play with four vienna sausages on your left hand. But here’s some easy tips to work on stretching out those muscles and tendons so you can play like the wind.
First a stretching exercise without the guitar. Put your left arm out in front of you and with your palm facing out, point your fingers toward the ceiling. Like your going to sing “Stop in the Name of Love”. Now, with your right hand, gently pull back your left hand palm and fingers so you feel the stretch in your wrist.
Then, in a similar position, point your fingers toward the ground, with the back of your hand facing out. Again with your right hand, gently pull your fingers in toward you. You’ll feel the stretch on the top of your wrist and arm.
You can do this with your right hand too to loosen that up.
Should you crack your knuckles? For years our parents told us that cracking the knuckles will lead to arthritis. That’s not true. And if it makes your fingers feel a bit looser, it’s probably ok. Just don’t overextend your fingers or you can damage the ligaments. This article from the Washington Post explains more about what happens in your hand when you crack your knuckles. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/22/AR2009022201783.html
Now grab your guitar. Starting at the 7th fret of the bottom string with your first finger, play a four fret, four finger pattern. –7–8–9–10– You can do this on all the strings if you’d like. It can only make you better. Play this until you can keep all four fingers on their frets as you play up the pattern.
When you’re comfortable with that, move down one fret and repeat the process. You’ll work your way down to the first fret.
Go back to the 7th fret. Now you’ll do a pattern using your 1st, 2nd, and 4th fingers, skipping frets. It will look like –7–9–11– Again, do that until you can keep all the fingers on the frets. And again, work your way down one fret at a time until you reach the bottom of the neck.
In the same way do these patterns:
1st and 3rd finger –7–10–
1st and 4th finger –7–11–
With all of them, you can and should do them on each string. Use these as a warmup for the first few minutes of your practice time and you’ll have fingers that fly around the fretboard like the tiny individual guitar gods they are.
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