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Thread: How do you speed up the left hand?

  1. #1

    Default How do you speed up the left hand?

    I can move the pick hand faster than the left. Any recommendations for speeding up the left?

  2. #2

    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    Separately both Evan Marshall and Alan Bibey told me that practicing scales in thirds was the best technique for improving left hand dexterity and speed.

    Ymmv
    Play it like you mean it.

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  4. #3
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    Technique …. keeping your fingers close to the strings. Relax and play without tension in your left hand. Knowledge …. know what you are playing so well that you don't think about playing ….. you just play. Practicing melodies arpeggios and scales until they become automatic and you are playing the music you hear in your head. A good setup on your mandolin so to play clearly requires a minimum of physical effort …. While a genius level player can make any instrument sound it's best. A quality instrument helps the rest of us sound better and play better. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    Butch Baldassari: "There are plenty of guys who pick faster than me."

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    Registered User Bob Visentin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    Google "guitar speed burst".
    Here is one example.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK3yH3WPb-A

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  10. #6

    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    Weird as it seems, I find that taking a given piece of music, practicing it SLOWLY and focusing on cleanness of technique, results in me being able to play the piece markedly faster that I was capable of before.

    Similarly, in improv, playing EXACTLY what you "meant to say" (I'll try that phrasing rather than "what you are singing in your head" since the latter seems to bother so many folks) slowly and accurately, builds the improv chops up over time, and results in faster, BETTER, improv lines.

    My 2 cents

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    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    Not to be too snarky but the answer is the same as how do you get to Carnegie hall........practice, practice, practice.

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  14. #8
    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    Being aware of any tension and relaxing while playing. The book The Inner Game of Music has been helpful. The book was recommended by Paul Glasse.

  15. #9

    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    Quote Originally Posted by Denny Gies View Post
    Not to be too snarky but the answer is the same as how do you get to Carnegie hall........practice, practice, practice.
    I would think the OP is looking for something more specific, e.g., what should be practiced. Repetoire or technical exercises? What tune or what exercises?

    Relax and have more focused practice is a pretty empty vessel for me. Ymmv
    Play it like you mean it.

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  17. #10
    Mandolin Friendly Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    I think the speed burst exercise Bob linked to looks like a great place to start for an actual exercise.
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    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    Foundation:

    1. Ergonomics, whole body, relaxed with power available. A coach will help. Alexander technique.
    2. Aim directed movement. From index on 1st D or A, whichever is easier, slow shift to 2d fret. Right up against the fret. Minimum tension. Back to 1st. Smooth to 3rd fret. Etc. All the way up. Eventually things like 1st to 4th to 2d to 5th. Then you will know where you are going and how to efficiently get there.
    3. Across the fingerboard. "Pumping Nylon" has some good exercises.
    4. Only then, two finger exercises, in the same style, increasing the gaps jumped, staying relaxed.

    Only when you can do these things in slow motion with no wasted effect and total concentration can you maintain relaxation and accuracy at speed. Lots of other cool exercises I used to do.
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  19. #12

    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    perhaps you could post a video and people can see if it's a technique thing or what.

    assuming your mandolin is set up well and your technique is ok, then practice and time behind the box is all that's really left.

  20. #13
    Registered User Jairo Ramos Parra's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    I'm working with The Complete Mandolinist, by Marilynn Mair. It has a section devoted to the technique of the left hand: a lot of exercises with fingerings, etc...then a section dedicated to the right hand, and finally a section for the coordination of the two hands ... and many other things...working in all this I am sure that you will achieve the desired speed!

  21. #14
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you speed up the left hand?

    I think we should distinguish between speeding up the left hand, and speeding up the playing.

    There are lots of "tricks" that allow one to play a phrase faster without needing to move the fingers faster. For example keeping the fingers down, not moving fingers you don't need to move, pivoting on one finger you keep down, and various ways of using alternate fingerings down a string and up the neck to get the same notes with less movement. A decent mandolin teacher can help. A guitar teacher who also teaches mandolin would be less effective here, but a violin teacher who also teaches mandolin would be good.

    Yes also one can speed up the fingers themselves, and I think that is done with practicing scales and arpeggios over and over an over and over and over ....

    IMO. YMMV.
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