Left hand finger efficiency

  1. HonketyHank
    I tend to let my left hand fingers go flying everywhere, which is a bad habit if you want to develop speed and accuracy. Basic lessons on left hand technique usually, at some point, mention two general rules (that are not ironclad, cast in concrete, truisms):

    Keep your fingers as close as possible to the strings at all times.

    When you put your finger down on a string to fret a note, don't lift it off the string until necessary to do so.

    I know I recently heard Caleb Klauder mention those rules in his free zoom lesson a month or so ago. He even mentioned how much of a struggle it was for him to learn to follow those rules. And I know I have heard folks like Baron Collins-Hill and Brad Laird mention them while teaching a specific tune or lick.

    I have been working on a tune called "Hunting for the Buffalo" and I find it to be full of licks where the second rule really helps - here is one of those phrases. I had been stumbling over the phrase with fingers flying when I realized that I could put my middle finger (edit: no not middle finger, RING finger) down on the fifth fret where the red down arrow is and just leave it there until the red up arrow. Much easier to play.

    (edit: corrected the screenshot)
  2. Southern Man
    Southern Man
    It's a good rule, but wouldn't you use your ring finer on fret 5?

    Shareon Gilchrist is also big on this rule, so I practiced it pretty extensively taking her course.
  3. HonketyHank
    Southern Man, YES, you're right. I use my middle finger for all kinds expressive events, but not for making a G on the third string of a mandolin. Oh well.
  4. Southern Man
    Southern Man

    I apologize if I came off as too much of a pedant. Not my intention at all, it just stuck out like a sore thumb to me and I posted that without thinking it could come off that way. It was totally irrelevant to your point, which was good and useful and my comment totally distracted from that point.

  5. HonketyHank
    S.Man Ken: it looks like it is I who is coming off unintendedly. I blame mental decline in my advanced years. Sometimes I even wonder if I am lysdexic.

    Seriously, no aspersions intended or perceived and I apologize for not being clearer that I was frustrated with my own decrepitating brain.
  6. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    I like the title of this thread—it's about playing efficiently rather than wasting time and energy flailing around. Another benefit of playing this way: if you are keeping your third finger down on the G on the D course while still picking clean notes on the As, you have a good hand position going on.
  7. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    I put in a lot of work on this a few years ago when working on Norman & Nancy Blake tunes. A big side benefit was the one Louise mentioned, making the necessary micro adjustments to get clean notes on the adjacent strings, these things are always a bit of a struggle especially if you take long breaks between play/practice days, but always worth the effort when you focus on them.
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