Pre-placing the left hand fingers

Question: "What about pre-placing the fingers?"
Answer: Ithink pre-placement of the fingers is OK if done in practice and for the right reasons. By itself, being careful gives us no guarantee of accuracy. So don't do it to avoid mistakes, but rather to explore concepts such as:

  • 'One impulse equals Four Notes'
  • 'Using more than two fingers on the Right Hand'

Right hand fingers on the guitar

Is the left hand thumb a lever?

Question: "The thumb is not squeezing but does it act like a lever? If so, the thumb itself is somewhat relaxed but there is a pressure/support on the neck that comes from the back/upper arm. Is that correct ?"
Answer: That's right, generally the pressure to contain the strings comes from the expansion of the back, transmitted via the arms. Nothing is absolute, however, of course the Left Hand will need to grip from time to time. What we are exploring here is "how much can we minimise the gripping of the left hand?" And the answer is for a lot of people - "quite a lot!".

Also, using the bigger back and arm muscles to produce pressure on the strings allows the fingers a lot more freedom of movement than is the case when "gripping".

Changing chords

Question: "The movement I'm doing now, from what I understood, is that if I play a chord the whole hand, wrist, arm, back is involved. That way there is not need to squeeze thumb and fingers. But if I want to change chords, when releasing from the previous chord do I bring the whole gesture back - so there is no movement from the fingers itself - in order to release the strings?"
Answer: To change chords you can often go through a "neutral" position, where the hand and fingers are totally relaxed, which I think is what you are describing. Players with a lot of "stamina" - or the ability to play long pieces, have found hundreds of places to momentarily rest the hand and fingers within the music.

If you relax, the hand will fall away from the strings easily, due to gravity.


Chords, and how to change chords quickly is explored thoroughly in my book: Bach's Guitar: Master Chords and Unlock Your Right Hand

How does 'One Gesture' work on a scale?

Question: "Also, I'd like to clarify how this "One Coordinated Gesture" works when playing a melody/scale. Is there a jerky forth-and-back movement from one note to the other ? I'm not quite sure how the gesture would work with continuous notes."

Answer: Jerky movements are generally not going to produce a good sound. The notes have to sound "connected" and that means you have to find a way to connect the movements. This is why I advise doing a lot of melodies on one string before introducing the complications of string changes.

One gesture of expansion is at the core of all good musical technique.
One gesture of expansion is at the core of all good musical technique.

Ascending and descending

Question: "In "Guitar Playing and how it Works" where you say "Placement of the LH fingers ascending" and "Placement of the LH fingers descending", in which dimension "ascending" and "descending" are you referring ? Is it touching and releasing the strings?" - Paulo, Sept, 2006
Answer: By "ascending" I mean ASCENDING the scale, going UP in pitch. By "descending" I mean descending the scale, going down in pitch.

We always use general musical conventions where possible. Every instrumentalist can play an ascending scale, each instrument will have a different set of movements required to do that.