#1
When you practise, there are certain muscles which arent developed. Theyre relatively weak. So when playing, one should do the best they can by compensating (ie, if your fingers are weak, press harder than you should with the thumb to compensate and help with the grip so that the note gets played clearly with no fret buzz). Its technically incorrect, but unavoidable and necessary while youre developing.

Also, there are certain positions and movements which feel very unnatural. So when practising, its ok to compensate in various ways, while muscles strength is developing. Sure, progress is slow this way, but its less demoralising than trying to do it absolutely correctly and constantly getting ti wrong. At least this way, some progress is being made.

Eventually, muscle strength develops, and familiarity with certain finger / hand positions and movements becomes familiar, and it all comes together, in small and usually sudden bursts of progress.

In other words, do the best you can at the time, muddle through incorrectly while certain aspects of your playing gradually improve, until all aspects make enough of an improvement. Then, youre onto the next stage, where everything somehow just feels easier.


This is what seems to be happening to me. In the last few days ive been practising almost nothing other than the spider exercise where you play with fingers 1,2,3 and 4, then the same on the next string, etc. I havent practised 4,3,2,1 yet, so im doing 1,2,3,4 on the way down too. Ill move on once im really doing well with 1,2,3,4. And i am definitely making progress. My hand feels stronger, and the fret buzz has almost gone, and im faster, and its so weird to see myself play well using the "dont lift a finger until you need to" approach.


But is there anything wrong with this approach, of knowingly doing things slightly incorrectly and compensating, until i dont need to? Surely thats how almost everyone learns any skill.
#2
That's a good way of approaching finger development and muscle memory.
Another good one (courtesy of Steve Vai) is to do: 1,2,3,4-2,3,4,1-3,4,1,2-4,1,2,3
It's difficult to get your head round to start with, but once your muscles memorise it, it's useful.
#3
Well you want to do it slow enough where it is perfect. That's how you are going to learn the right way. Right now you might feel as though your technique of alternate picking is oscillating, this is due to your body trying to find the best way to accomplish the task. After a while it sets in which way is the best for you. You want to practice things that make your hands feels awkward slower, with little mistakes. Thats how you are going to learn, not by busting your balls at a higher speed.

I mean what are you doing if you cant play something at a high tempo? Pushing your muscles beyond what they are capable of? You're going to strain yourself and make little to no progress.

If you work harder at making things perfect at lower tempos and not pushing yourself; the climb will be much smoother. With more progress being made in shorter time.
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#4
Oh i plan to do them all. Im obsessive when it comes to devising exercises. But i have always focussed on practising lots and lots of exercises rather than spending more time on each. It has made a massive difference to my playing but i should have focussed on less, and spent more time on each. At one point i realised that if i practised every exercise imaginable (inc. exercises based on scales) that id spend a hundred lifetimes doing it. So now i figure that if i can master the most important ones and get really good, the rest will be much easier, and i wont have to literally do every possible exercise.

So you think its ok to muddle through, knowing doing it wrong and compensating, while muscle memory / strength / etc improves?

I kind of feel that it is ok, i just need some reassurance.
#5
Sure, it all works! Personally I learnt by just learning/attempting to play the songs I liked (which over time progressed in technicality and difficulty) and now consider myself a proficient player, but I don't feel I progressed as quickly as I'd have liked.
#6
You're doing just fine. What I'd suggest is to use patterns like 1324 and similar, and to cross strings as well. Check my finger independence video as it basically covers exactly what kind of muscle and co-ordination development you're talking about.
#7
Oh yeah of course, thats what im doing (crossing strings) and ive seen your video a couple of times. Which reminds me, ive been meaning to ask you :

When youve just played a note, then you play the next fret up (or 2 frets, whatever, or any other note on any other string), do you keep the same amount of pressure on the first note as you would if you were playing it, or do you relax it? In the video you kept taking it off (which i thought was wrong, although you did say that you were doing it wrong). Surely one of the reasons to keep the finger still on is in case you need to play it again.

And is this correct : i.e. 1st finger / bottom E, keep it on there as you then play ie. 3rd finger, B string? In other words, does the "dont lift your finger until you need it" idea always apply? Its just that when i play i.e. a phrygian scale (across all strings, therefore 2 or so octaves), i find that i keep my 2nd finger in the same place almost throughout. It feels ok, i just wondered if its necessary.
Last edited by leafarmusic at Mar 27, 2009,