#1
I've used a number of different guitar instruction websites, with Justin Guitar being the one I've used most.

I've finally moved to the intermediate stage, and one of the first lessons is in minimal movement fingering for fretting. Keeping the fingers just a fraction of an inch above the strings.

I'm wondering why this isn't taught much earlier in guitar lessons, as I find myself having to relearn all sorts of things to get the fingering right. Is it just assumed that keeping fingers low would be too difficult for beginners?

Just curious.
#2
Cause most beginners are struggling with just playing normally when they are new to the guitar. At that time guitar is still so foreign to them that they have to start doing these often very big and slow movements to make sure they are playing correctly.

Basically, they don't have the physical or mental technique for it at that point. Either they can't do it cause their technique doesn't allow it or their mind don't allow it. Of course there are exceptions, but it's for that reason, they have so much to learn already that is completely new to their bodies.

It should be taught earlier though, in my opinion. Same with learning by ear, which should also be taught very early on.
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#3
As a beginner myself, I think it's much easier to exaggerate my hand movement in order to remember things.
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#4
I think if you start talking about economy of motions to beginners, a lot would just give up because of the effort that they'd have to exert to even learn in the first place
#5
I would say its because you need to learn to fret notes cleanly first I guess. Same reason as why muting techniques (like using the first fretting finger as gatekeeper) come later. Baby steps and all that.

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#6
I agree with what others have said so far: learning to play at all is much more important than learning to play well with beginners. It's the same as with any skill; first you learn how to do it at the most basic level and as you become more familiar with what's going on you can make steps towards refining what you do and making it good. It's more or less impossible for most people to jump straight in to being good because they don't have the foundation skills needed for it.
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#7
Kind of related story: my wife took violin lessons about five years ago. She'd played for a couple of years in junior high, and had wanted to get back into it for a long time. Well, her instructor's thing was eliminating tension. It totally killed it for her. Here she is, almost a complete beginner, and every time she makes a bit of progress it's back to square one every time she went for her lesson because she wasn't playing completely tension free. That's completely unrealistic! How the hell is someone supposed to play tension free when they are a beginner and it's enough of a challenge just to get their fingers where they are supposed to be?!

I think the results would be the same if too much emphasis was placed on economy of movement when teaching beginner/early intermediate guys. Also, I think that trying too hard to make small movements at that stage would introduce a lot of tension, which is a lot worse.

There are definitely some things you can do to work on economy of movement directly, but for the most part it develops by itself from solving other problems such as tension, and improving your familiarity and comfort with the instrument - it just kind of settles down over time.
#8
Thanks for the replies. As I think back to the difficulties I had with even basic things, I suppose economizing movement would have made it much more difficult.

It's just weird having to play scales at a pace of 40 bpm.
#9
slow practice is usually the most valuable.

I think people who have consistent training through their development learn economy of motion pretty early on, so there's no relearning, just refining technique. The biggest elements of technique can be taught early on - keeping the fingers curled, good thumb placement, pick holding, etc.

Ideally, you learn to use better technique as it becomes necessary. There's not much use in teaching subtle vibrato technique to someone still struggling with "Polly Wolly Doodle".
#10
Quote by EddieHet
As a beginner myself, I think it's much easier to exaggerate my hand movement in order to remember things.


+1 for this - It's a muscle memory thing, our mind + body seem to more easily remember larger and more forceful motions. That's why you see a lot of technical exercises emphasize these motions, especially on the piano.
#11
Quote by Monkeyleg
It's just weird having to play scales at a pace of 40 bpm.


This feeling will disappear after a while, I had it too when I first started playing slowly. Ignore the constant "maybe I should play this a bit faster because I kinda can and I want to improve faster" thoughts, playing slowly will always benefit your technique providing you're playing slowly with good technique.
#12
I think I still exaggerate my my finger movement. When playing fast, the movements get smaller naturally as needed without me thinking about it.
#13
My speed is picking up, and I notice my fingers are much closer to the strings. About 1/4" to at worst 1/2" away.

Guess it takes a little time.
#14
Quote by Monkeyleg
It's just weird having to play scales at a pace of 40 bpm.


Remember, it's not playing them slowly that creates the improvement, it's playing them better.

I've seen plenty of people "practise slowly" and they just play things as badly as they do fast, with less enthusiasm. This will not help in any way.

Set yourself the *highest possible standard* of execution. No extra motion, no tension, perfect fretting-picking synch, great sound. You will need to slow down to those tempos in order to nail this.
#15
^ That's the key. It's not really playing slowly that you need to practice, it's "playing fast with perfect technique in slow motion".
I would say that playing slow all the time without focusing on the movements will harm your ability to play fast - you develop habits (e.g. big loopy pick strokes) that work well for slow playing but not for fast.
The best approach is to take what you're working on and play it as fast as you can (with mistakes, but not completely falling apart). Figure out what the problems are. Slow down to a speed where you can consciously control your movements and start fixing them. Then you start gradually speeding it up, but never to the point where the new good movements break down. While you're working on this, it's helpful to occassionaly speed it up, and check to see how things are going - but not so often that you start undermining the new good technique you are building.
#16
Most beginners play guitars that require heavy fingers. Start off with a good electric and setup, using economy of motion with picking and fretting can only be a good thing IMO
#17
Perhaps one of the reasons it isn't taught earlier is to milk more money from beginner students?

Sure, things should be kept simple at first, but that doesn't mean that beginners can start out by sticking to good, practital guitar habits right away.
#18
Quote by Rocknrolla35
Perhaps one of the reasons it isn't taught earlier is to milk more money from beginner students?

Sure, things should be kept simple at first, but that doesn't mean that beginners can start out by sticking to good, practital guitar habits right away.


In this case it's going to be more of making people aware of these things, as has already been said beginners tend to lack the control needed to make this kind of thing work.
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#19
Quote by Rocknrolla35
Perhaps one of the reasons it isn't taught earlier is to milk more money from beginner students?

Sure, things should be kept simple at first, but that doesn't mean that beginners can start out by sticking to good, practital guitar habits right away.


I do tell my students that minimal movement is ideal, but when you're barely able to use two fingers or get a clear note to sound at all, it's a bit unrealistic.
#20
Most students I have had already feel daunted enough when first learning the instrument. They often get frustrated early and think it is futile. My job is to convince them that it is easier than they think and give them small victories to focus on, such as being able to play a 3 chord song at 75% tempo. It's about making them feel confident enough in themselves to get over the initial hump.

I may mention that minimal technique is preferred most of the time, but I don't set an expectation for it. Too much info is scary for most beginners. I like them to believe that learning guitar is easy if they just put in some solid effort and don't fear making mistakes. After a couple of weeks when they have learned a few songs and feel like they have made some real progress I might start introducing more concepts like proper technique (have to do it before bad habits are learned), but the initial sessions are just about getting through the absolute basics.
#21
Quote by Monkeyleg


I've finally moved to the intermediate stage, and one of the first lessons is in minimal movement fingering for fretting. Keeping the fingers just a fraction of an inch above the strings.

I'm wondering why this isn't taught much earlier in guitar lessons, as I find myself having to relearn all sorts of things to get the fingering right. Is it just assumed that keeping fingers low would be too difficult for beginners?

Just curious.


I had never even heard of such a thing after 20 years of playing and had to look it up. It should be taught right away. I don`t think there`s any rationale for having that in the intermediate section.
#22
Quote by Freepower
I do tell my students that minimal movement is ideal, but when you're barely able to use two fingers or get a clear note to sound at all, it's a bit unrealistic.

Exactly. I haven't taught regularly for a while, but as long as a student's fret hand technique is manageable and comfortable for them, that's good enough. It's more important that they start making music with a guitar in their hands.

It's a different if a student's technique is just obscenely awful and painful. Then some guidance is in order.


Most beginners play guitars that require heavy fingers.

Oh god, I cringe at the thought of how poorly setup the Squier Strat I started out on was. Looking back now, it's amazing that I learned how to play on that thing. The action, in retrospect, was so damn high and on top of that I went through a stage where I was using 11's playing in standard tuning to boot.

The benefits of a well set-up guitar are something that I took way to long to discover. It's also something that I don't believe is stressed enough to beginners once they get a solid foundation under them.
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#23
Quote by sjones
Exactly. I haven't taught regularly for a while, but as long as a student's fret hand technique is manageable and comfortable for them, that's good enough. It's more important that they start making music with a guitar in their hands.


Yeah this, I'm not a teacher but this is exactly what happened when I was teaching a friend. A beginner who can't comfortably play anything is not going to be able to use regular movement, let alone minimal movement.