Finger Independence Exercises

author: kaoticnick date: 11/18/2011 category: for beginners
rating: 7.2 / votes: 12 
Before I start, I should point out that these may or may not be my original ideas. I learn a lot of stuff just by the way when I meet interesting musicians/teachers and I would never claim that I devised all these exercises - even though I might have made up one or two of them. I do, however, know that they work really well for me. Also, it's best to do these with the aid of a metronome. Take it from someone who had to take backward steps to correct simple timing deficiencies, it's best to practice controlled rhythm from the start. Try setting the BPM to 60 if you're just starting out and adjust it slowly until it's set to a BPM where you're just able to do the exercise properly for multiple repetitions (with NO mistakes) without setting it so slow that you don't challenge yourself. From there, it's all about staying in sync with the ticking. 1, 2, 3, 4 Drill (No Plain White Ts pun intended) The idea behind this drill is to improve fretting hand co-ordination by "teaching" your fingers to move individually without affecting their neighbors much. Basically, what you want to do is align your four fingers with the first four frets - 1st string - and play the notes on each string in successions as shown in the tab below.
|1-2-3-4----------------------------------------------|
|--------1-2-3-4--------------------------------------|
|----------------1-2-3-4------------------------------|
|------------------------1-2-3-4----------------------|
|--------------------------------1-2-3-4--------------|
|----------------------------------------1-2-3-4------|
Then, just as if you were practicing scales, you'll want to take it back down to the 1st string again - but this time play the notes on each string in reverse order (i.e. 4, 3, 2, 1). 1,2,3,4 Pairs Drill Basically, you'll be keeping your fingers in the same positions as above but instead of hitting the 4 notes in 1st position on each string you'll be moving with pairs as shown below.
|1-2---------------------------------------2-1------------|
|----2-3-------------------------------3-2----------------|
|--------3-4-----------------------4-3--------------------|
|------------1-3---------------3-1------------------------|
|----------------2-4-------4-2----------------------------|
|--------------------1-4-1--------------------------------|
The objective of this exercise (I made it up although it's inspired by concepts I've learned elsewhere) is to make you use all possible finger combinations (pairs) - thus improving the finger independence I talked about earlier. As I write this I'm getting the idea to apply a similar technique but using 3 notes at a time - maybe I'll figure out an efficient way to do that and put it in a subsequent lesson. That's all for now - hopefully these little exercises will get you well on the way to better fretting hand coordination (and better playing - especially if you're into playing lead). If you liked this lesson, check out my website here and please post comments below to let me know how I did with my first lesson (and if you'd like me to do a part 2 to this) - I come up with new exercises all the time and I'd compile them into a much bigger article after I run them by my teacher in class. :)
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