5 January 2009

Guitar Finger Independence Exercise

Here's a simple finger independence exercise you can use as a warm up for your guitar practice. In this exercise you will pick the notes you fret, but you can easily leave that out and work on only the fretting hand if you wish. Let's get right to the exercise.

1. Spread the four fingers of your fretting hand above the 6th string, one fret per finger. You can start at any fret you like.

2. Play the note under your third (ring) finger, press down the string, pick it, then lift your finger to return to its starting position.

3. Play the note under your first (index) finger, as you did for the third finger in step 2. Then do the same for the fourth (pinky), and second (middle) fingers.

4. Move down to the 5th string and play the 5th string frets in the sequence you used in steps 2 and 3.

5. Repeat the process for all strings down to the 1st string.

6. Now work your way back up to the 6th string, one string at a time. You can use the same sequence of fingers or a different one, it's up to you.

You're done. This simple exercise makes a good warm up for your guitar practice, both stretching your fingers and developing their independence. Practice the pattern several times using a metronome to keep a steady tempo. As you become better you can increase the tempo ensuring that you can play cleanly without errors before moving on to a higher speed.

The sequence suggested above is just one example of how you can do the exercise. You should choose different orders for the finger movements for more variety and development of independent finger control. Be careful not to let your fingers fall into random movements - pick a pattern first and then apply it in a controlled way.

You can extend the exercise to play notes across several strings rather than one string at a time. Here's an example tab pattern starting at the 5th fret. Use quarter or eighth notes and remember to use one finger for each fret:


This exercise is also a good candidate for visualization - practice the finger movements in your head as you shower, walk, run...

As always, use your metronome to build up speed and fluency with this exercise for maximum benefit.

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Unknown said...

Great lesson.

Gary Fletcher said...

Mike, thanks for the encouragement. I guess you were on the couch practicing when you read this, right? ;-)

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