As a teacher myself, there are many times when I see my students not knowing what is happening in their right hand while playing guitar. Also, I can testify that I have been part of this problem. Why is it important to know what your right-hand fingers are doing while playing guitar?
Playing guitar is like playing the piano. If you don’t know what you are doing with both hands, how will you ensure you know your song 100%. Knowing what both hands are doing helps your confidence before and during the performance. It helps with speed, articulation, and musicality. What your left does is as important as what the right-hand does.
Why do we as players forget to pay attention to this problem, and how can I solve it? Those are many questions I raise for myself and my students. Here are some tips for this problem that many guitarists have.
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What happens in my mind when I play guitar?
Here is a question to explain why we are so focused on the left hand fingers and completely abandon our other hand. The answer is that we want to make sure to play the right notes. It seems that playing the right notes, which helps produce the sound we want, is more rewarding than what it does your right hand. Why does it matter, after all? Why does it matter when I can play the same note with all my fingers on the right hand?
I can use I, M, or A fingers to play a single note, and will sound well. And is easier to play with everything with one or whatever fingers. Also, most of the time, the student wants to advance as soon as possible. It seems that learning what the right-hand fingers do would be extra work. Or, in the case of a pick, it doesn’t matter your technique; the importance is that what you are learning is beginning to make sense.
I find myself explaining to all my students how important it is what you do with your right hand for 40% of their entire student cycle. Some students never get to get better at this. Many times the student that cares a lot about this are the ones that become successful students in the end. Also, I have a great player that could do better if they pay attention to this matter.
Interestingly, you try to find information online, and it is not much about it. But in reality, it is a big problem for guitarists, especially fingerstyle or, I would say, finger plugging like a classical guitarist. One piece of advice is that if you want to be faster, you need to know what your right-hand fingers do. In fact, would you be able to play your whole song with just your right hand?
This is not about playing guitar as right hand or left hand
It doesn’t matter how you play the acoustic guitar. Both hands need to be necessary. Both hands should get the same amount of technique. Your confidence level would depend on knowing your music the same way you are playing the piano. I make this statement because if you search on google, then this is the most you will find on google.
Also, don’t think that maybe you need to play the guitar left-handed just to have a stronger right hand. In the end, you must pay attention to what both hands are doing.
Would speed improve if I focus on my right hand position while playing guitar?
The answer is, of course, yes. Yes, what the left hand does is essential to this. For example, knowing the right finger that suit you to play smoothly helps with the speed. Also, having strong hand technique nurture of many hours of technical exercise can be very helpful. Also, when you use slurs or need to guide through the fretboard with your fingers is as essential. But make sure you have a natural flow of your fingers in the right hand is important.
I barely paid attention to my right hand position during my bachelor’s degree. Yes, my professor mentioned it to me, but I didnt pay attention. It was not until I began my master’s degree when I got stuck with the Giga from the bach suite 996 that I could not play it fast. And it was that moment my professor mentioned that I was repeating fingers on the right hand. That was when I began to work on this problem which helped with the speed of this challenging piece.
What can I do to work on my right-hand fingers?
There are many ways you can work on this problem. The maintain thing would be to work on this every time you do your daily scales and reviews. Here are some exercises to help you play better:
Paying attention from the start of learning the music
The best time to work on playing with the right fingers is when you are learning the music. The deal is that getting rid of a habit once created is challenging. That’s why you need to get to healthy habits such as paying attention to your right-hand fingers. I know it takes longer to learn the music, but I believe it will be very satisfying to not have a problem with this.
Playing your music with just the right hand
Here is a difficult one. I learned about this during my bachelor’s. I was learning the 3rd movement of the cathedral and my professor explained that once she broke her right armed, she used to practice her music by playing the whole song with just the right hand.
This method is well known by the maestro Manuel Barrueco who would put his students to play the music this way. It is very challenging, but if you can do it, chances are you will have speed and master the music.
Playing daily scales and reviews
An excellent way to work on this is by practicing scale daily. You can do many combinations such as im, mi, ia, ai, ma, am. This was one of the ways I practiced my alternations, and now I don’t even need to think about it. Chromatic scales work like a charm.
About reviews, it is good to dedicate one of the songs you already know and try to pay attention to what you are doing. Try to play the whole song by looking at your right hand. Take the sheet music and plan well what you are doing in the music. Chances are that in the spot you are having a problem, you are repeating fingers like crazy.
Leveling up your confidence in your performance
In conclusion, making sure what your fingers from both hands are doing would benefit your playing substantially. Also, you are going to feel more secure when playing in concert. It doesn’t feel very good to perform and in the middle of your execution, begin to play a scale with just one finger because you didnt plan how you would do it.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.