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Video 8: Hammer-on Exercises

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In this video I demonstrate three different kinds of Hammer-on/slur exercises:

1. The Swiss-army-knife of slur exercises, this time applied to hammer-ons.

2. Hammering out a melody (or any technical pattern) This is sometimes called “tapping,” especially in the non-classical guitar world. It’s much easier to get volume using this technique on an amplified or electric guitar, and some electric players use it as their main method of producing sound on the instrument (i.e. Stanley Jordan)

It’s a valuable skill to develop, and can be used to solve many technical and musical problems in classical guitar repertoire

3. Tricky ornament exercises: These are actually usually a combination of hammer-ons and pull-offs, and creating a few exercises like these out of the ornamentation challenges your Baroque and Classical-period repertoire provides to you is a great way to improve your efficiency, accuracy and finger-independence.

Remember that all of these exercises work best to improve your technique if you start slowly and consciously at first,, and restrain yourself from jumping into them at a fast tempo.

Less notes + more focus = faster improvement!

This applies at the start of every technique session, even if you’re very advanced and plan on increasing the speed and shooting for the upper eschelons of technical wizardry.

Also, remember to practice them on all strings,, and on different frets, low and high,  feeling the many subtle ways that the balance changes as you achieve efficiency in different places on the fingerboard.

Quality over quantity.

A few minutes of slow, extremely conscious slur exercises, in which you intensely feel and closely observe what’s happening, will make huge differences in your technique over relatively short periods of time. If you jump straight to speed and strength, you’ll waste so much time training your fingers to move very fast but wrong. You’ll waste time even though you’re building some muscles, because you’ll be training them to move with excess tension, and perhaps even injuring yourself.