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Video 2: Right Hand Preparation and Staccato Exercises (Single Note Articulation)

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Right hand preparation is an essential skill that you need to build into a reflex.
Because most guitar students tend to focus excessively on their left hands—-there seems to be more going on there—-they often develop the habit of moving their left hand fingers to a new note or position, and then waiting for the right hand to catch up.
To remedy this just takes a little bit of conscious focus on doing the opposite. That’s why these exercises are so simple, using just several notes. The most important thing is that you look and feel carefully what you’re doing, and train your right hand to prepare the way instead of the left.

These articulation exercises, while simple, might also seem unduly confusing or nitpicky to some of you. They also raise the question: Will I have to think of this all the time?

The answer is “No, eventually you will barely have to think of it at all.” Train the skill for a few minutes at  a time,  and then let it go and trust your hands to find  a new balance. If you notice that things are getting sloppy again, try training right hand preparation again for a few minutes.

Ultimately, you’ll just have to focus on it when you’re working out a specific problem or going for a specific expression that demands a certain type of articulation.

Ultimately, too, the right and left hand will often “fire” at much the same time. Or when one hand prepares for the other, they will reflexively choose the most effective way to articulate things based on each situation. Controlling your articulation will become as natural as choosing to begin and end your words sharply or softly, or slur them together in some way. It will become as simple as choosing to pronounce the word “water” with a sharp British-english “t” or with a soft American-english “d.” All you are doing here is giving your hands the articulation vocabulary and pronunciation skills so they can say what you want them to say, however you want them to say it, like shifting between various kinds of musical “accents.”

In the second part of the video I suggest doing scales and shifts on one string using a right hand “staccato” technique to create a big space between each note. This staccato practice, in which you very rapidly replace each successive finger with the next one in line, is extra important!

It trains your right hand fingers to take very small steps.

Very small steps lead to very fast playing and to solid scales.. It’s important to train fast playing in a relaxed way though, and this is the first step towards that.