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Video 1: Left Hand Poise

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Compared to the right hand, the left hand

  1. Uses more strength, and suppleness
  2. Is more active and acrobatic
  3. Needs to move seamlessly between a much wider variety of shapes and positions.

Of these three, the most essential thing you need to develop for a really great sense of right hand poise is the 1st one—- right hand strength and suppleness.

It’s so important to realize that for most of what you are required to do when playing classical guitar repertoire, how you use your muscles is more important than their sheer strength.

Yes, strength is required, especially for barres and extended passages. You do need to progressively develop stronger muscles. But these develop quite naturally with time, as you play pieces and supplement them with exercises where necessary. Playing classical guitar is not like weightlifting. If you push too hard too fast, you’ll stress your muscles, you won’t be agile, and you’ll develop habits that get in the way of your playing.

The ideal is t0 be as light and nimble as possible, to always be using just enough effort, avoid overdoing it, and to learn to release excess tension as soon as you realize it’s present in your playing.

This video gives you a way to feel into how you are using your muscles, and shows you how to achieve that ideal.

Watch this video with your guitar, and feel into the available forces. Then, whenever you have trouble with left hand strength and poise during your practice session, check and see how well you’re using these forces. Here they are again:

  1. Thumb/finger opposition
  2. Weight of Arm
  3. Shoulder action
  4. Movement from the Knuckle
  5. Combined action of Joints and Knuckles