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IMPORTANT: Note to fingerpickers everywhere


GreySeraph

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If you really want to save yourselves from the destruction of your right hand, please read that article on leona boyd in the newest GP. Anyone playing guitar, actually, should know about focal dystonia and its harmful nature before you're left unable to play anymore. Two of my teachers have suffered from it, one of which has toured all around the world and was the Guitar Federation of America's president for 26 years! (his name is David Grimes if anyone wants to look him up) Can you imagine your career being shot down after being a performer of his caliber? Please inform yourself! Read the wikipedia article-- it's actually a good source of information about it (though it doesnt help with how to practice to stay away from it). If you want more information you can ask here.

My Gear:

 

82 Gibson Explorer

Ibanez 03 JEM7VWH

PRS McCarty Soapbar

Diezel Herbert 2007

 

Peters '11 Brahms Guitar

Byers '01 Classical

Hippner 8-Str Classical

Taylor 614ce

Framus Texan

 

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Actually yes they do! It depends on your method by which you practice. For one, EVERYONE HERE needs to work on relieving tension from their body while they practice. To do this, some easy practice can include buzz-scales:

 

--practice a scale, only push the string far enough to where it buzzes while still sustaining. The same rules apply for good technique, as your left hand fingers MUST be close enough to the fret without overlapping the fret itself, and you must use the tip of your finger. This will help your body quantify the pressure necessary for playing with good, solid tone by showing you JUST how much pressure u need to buzz, as anything after that is either a miffed note (in one direction) or too tight and using excessive pressure (the other direction). This will create an overall release in pressure, relaxing the body from excessive tension that harsh gripping can create. IT'S NEVER A STYLE TO WRANGLE THE STRINGS WITH THE LEFT HAND; unless it's intentional, you're pulling your strings sharp and muddying the difference between string to string. (And i repeat, if it's intentional. Don't do it often, as it's harmful to your person)

 

...or with good follow-through on your right hand fingertips:

 

--practice starting with open chords. Play arpeggios where the finger, rather than rigidly playing through the string, plays through the string in a soft motion (where the joints aren't being locked). This will keep tension away from the right hand, which you DONT WANT, as the nerves there are what can get focal dystonia!

 

Another, classical form of practice is to take EVERY chord shape in the song you're playing, hold it with the least amount of pressure possible (testing the chord to make sure everything is solid), and then release the left hand, letting it drop towards the floor with gravity. Then, after 5-6 seconds, bring the arm up and softly grab the next chord, until you're done with the song. This will instill great habits in your playing as you will be more relaxed from chord to chord, relaxing the whole body as a result.

 

Another good tip is to constantly be aware of your neck and back. Do stretches before and after every time you play and make sure that your shoulder doesnt scrunch up towards your head. Sometimes you can't detect this yourself. Have someone else watch you and check if your shoulders inch towards your head. The reason for this is obvious. Another good tip is to massage your neck and upper back. The guitar is notoriously HORRIBLE for the position by which we sit in, whether it's in a classical position or if we're "cowboy-ing" it on our thigh.

 

Make sure to get a lot of rest, and NEVER practice without being cautious of EVERY movement you do. Practicing in front of the TV like Liona Boyd said is BAD NEWS BEARS. You need to be aware and not overstrain yourself. It's possible to practice 10-15 (even 20) hours at a time if you DO IT CORRECTLY.

 

Another good tip is to take Alexander technique lessons, as it will help you with the control over your body's tensions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_technique

 

ALSO, DONT PRACTICE FOR SPEED, PRACTICE FOR COORDINATION! You are already fast enough for the licks you want to play. Dont use effort to learn the lick, work on making the most precise movement at 20 bpm (literal, I'm NOT KIDDING) before you even decide to go on to 22 bpm, and then 24 bpm, etc. No matter what you do, if you dont do this, there will be sloppiness at some level in your playing that effort will have to make up for. Speed should be effortless.

 

If you still want more techniques to help relax your body, I'm more than willing to keep typing, but I wanna know if people will read/do this much.

 

edit:

@Terrell: You're correct on the matter. DONT EVER PRACTICE ON SOMETHING THAT HURTS, PEOPLE! Get it checked immediately before you continue.

 

Still though, focal dystonia will not be as apparent as tendonitis or carpal tunnel is, as there are no symptoms of pain, etc., until the damage is done. You still have to worry about how you practice, even if everything feels alright.

My Gear:

 

82 Gibson Explorer

Ibanez 03 JEM7VWH

PRS McCarty Soapbar

Diezel Herbert 2007

 

Peters '11 Brahms Guitar

Byers '01 Classical

Hippner 8-Str Classical

Taylor 614ce

Framus Texan

 

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I don't think I'll have much to worry about as far as this goes, but I'll keep it in mind...

 

Your claim of being able to practice 10-15 hours a day can cause other problems.

 

At my 50th birthday party, a friend of mine who I haven't seen for several years, a classical guitarist-turned-jazz musician was telling me he got to where he was practicing as long as 18 hours a day! Finally, once during a break from practice, he noticed his then teenaged daughter doing something he dissaproved of, and told her to cut it out. She turned to him and asked, "Oh? And YOU are...?"

 

He got the point, and cut his practice to 1 1/2 hours.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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Haha. I'm 22. When I have a wife and kids, it would be an atrocity to not give them most of my day. :P

My Gear:

 

82 Gibson Explorer

Ibanez 03 JEM7VWH

PRS McCarty Soapbar

Diezel Herbert 2007

 

Peters '11 Brahms Guitar

Byers '01 Classical

Hippner 8-Str Classical

Taylor 614ce

Framus Texan

 

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