Finger Independence, "The Spider"
I have been doing the "spider" exercise in order to stretch and gain some finger independence. I can't seem to get the notes to ring clear because the pad of my pinky somewhat dampens the string below it. Is this typical for a beginner?
Also, should I be trying to relax my hand when doing this exercise or should I be trying to stretch my fingers as far as I can ?
You should stretch out but not be pressuring yourself. Do a whole bunch of spider shapes, so your keeping frets close and far. Many people will agree though that spider excercises are pointless...
Also, yes, the pinky thing is typical of a beginner as you're fingers aren't entirely in your control xP I assume your action is rather high too from that, you may have to apply some pressure, at least until the calluses start coming. Right now, focus on getting the notes as accurate as possible, don't worry about speed or anything like that. At least until you feel independant enough to do it.
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