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Thread: Right Hand Technique

  1. #1
    Registered User OldMandoMan's Avatar
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    Default Right Hand Technique

    Over my many years of playing & teaching (I'm in my 70's now) I've struggled to find the most effective way to help students develop right hand skills. Truth be told, it's the hardest part of playing any folk stringed instrument. I've always rejected the idea of "strumming patterns" for anything beyond learning the beginning hand to hand coordination & allowing one to participate in jam sessions etc. I've developed what I call The Right Hand Menu around the concept that there are "X number of things" your right hand can do. Not unlike the analogy to say Mexican food, where there are "X number of ingredients" in the numerous different delicious items on the menu, if you catch my drift. If one feels the need to have that explained in depth, I have a book that can be found in Mandolin Cafe's classifieds.

    Apologies to the left-handed players, you'll need to call it The Left Hand Menu, but you're used to those adjustments I suppose?

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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    I did a couple things to help my hand strength and ability to manipulate the pick. One was I use those Chinese balls you roll around in your hand. Two I hold the pick in my hand and practice manipulating its position with just my fingers once I can make a movement I then work on doing it while swinging my hand around. I know it sounds funny but it worked for me.
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  5. #3

    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    Is there a link to more information about the book?

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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    As much as I lust to play really fast, deliberately slowing down is the biggest thing ive found to improve tone. That, and being relaxed. I try to listen to the quality of the notes im playing, and either simplify the break i am playing or try to slow down to make it sound better.
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  7. #5
    Registered User Rickker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    Quote Originally Posted by RobP View Post
    As much as I lust to play really fast, deliberately slowing down is the biggest thing ive found to improve tone. That, and being relaxed. I try to listen to the quality of the notes im playing, and either simplify the break i am playing or try to slow down to make it sound better.
    You are 100% right on this, RobP! For me, the faster I play, the worse it gets. I love playing fiddle tunes, and it is a fact that these tunes sound just great when played well at a moderate tempo, when you can hear the notes ring clearly for their time value. A good example is the St. Anne's Reel. I think it sounds better at a moderate tempo than at breakneck speed.

    As for right hand technique, I have studied this for years. It is the first thing I look for when watching videos or players in live performances. The styles are all over the map. Compare Sam Bush's highly energetic style with the subdued smoothness of John Reischman. Two great players making great sounds in a completely different manner. Or the frequently debated planted pinky vs. an unplanted one. Both used very effectively. Is there really a "right" way to use the right hand?

    .....Rickker

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  9. #6
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    I do wrist curls with a weight to strengthen my forearms,,I used to take a 2,3 or 5 lb. Lifting plate and hold it it in my right hand like a pick and start to fan it like tremelo,no mandolin in hand of course when doing this,I don't need to do this anymore but I still do wrist curls..

  10. #7

    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    For anyone interested, here’s a piece on Laban movement analysis along with other discussions at the bottom of the page.
    Interesting that psychology (and Culture, upbringing) plays a large part in how we move our right hands.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laban_movement_analysis

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  11. #8

    Default Re: Right Hand Technique

    From the link, these are the main areas:
    The categories of BESS are as follows:[5]

    Body - what the body is doing and the interrelationships within the body
    Effort - the qualities of movement
    Shape - how the body is changing shape and what motivates it to do so
    Space - where the body is moving and the harmonic relationships in space

    This is the intellectualisation of what’s happening along with tuition, but of course you can get quite a long way by just letting your body ‘think’ about it, using repetition, relaxation, listening, and the love or joy of moving in space -if that makes any sense

    Strumming exercises are great, especially for kids, clapping, drumming, rhythmic group chanting. All these things to improve body coordination. And especially understanding the factors that can lead to people losing coordination too. (I’m thinking of self conscious teenagers)

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