Principles execises... for how long?

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Principles execises... for how long?

Postby ulises48 » Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:39 am

Hello Jamie and all.
I bought the Principles book many years ago. I finally have now the time to start using the book. Upon reviewing the DVD and book, I have one question:
How do I know when I have practiced the exercises enough? I mean for example, the Right Hand String Shifting Exercise. For how long do I have to practice it, and how would I know when I have mastered it, so that I don't need to practice it anymore, or that I can move on?
It's not something that has a definite goal like... "playing this scale at 120bpm".
Sorry if this is a dumb question, or if I don't seem to grab the concepts behind the Principles.
As a side note, I am trying to overcome a condition in my right hand fingers. They became stiff and I lost all speed. I can play things very slowly, but I need to regain my speed.
Hope this method and forums help me.
Thank you all for reading.

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Re: Principles execises... for how long?

Postby chefrusso » Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:41 pm

Hello Ulises,

Your question really depends on the individual, although I don't think you ever STOP doing the principles exercises. Your focus may shift from one exercise to another, however, depending on what you're trying to learn or accomplish. I always start my practice with the walking exercises to get my fingers warmed up and in sync, even if it's only for a few minutes. I don't always try and push the envelope and work on speed every time though. Sometimes I perform the exercise at a comfortable speed and monitor my fingers to see if any tension is there. On the other hand, I don't practice the shifting exercises in the same way anymore because my right hand is pretty comfortable doing its job, but I will do some alternate picking and shifting exercises across one string, then two strings, then three, and so forth. Essentially it's the same exercise, but I've modified it to my current abilities. In the same respect, if I'm trying to learn something that is more challenging, or if I notice my right hand is tensing up, I will slow everything down and practice the shifting with my right hand on its own and then I'll get my left hand involved. Often, right hand tension is in response to left hand tension, so I find it helpful to isolate the two from time to time.

ulises48 wrote:As a side note, I am trying to overcome a condition in my right hand fingers. They became stiff and I lost all speed. I can play things very slowly, but I need to regain my speed.

If you're experiencing tension like this, it is essential for you to work on the bottom of your practice, i.e. the exercises, and discover where this tension really is coming from. If you're losing control at higher speeds, then you are not noticing the tension when you're playing at lower speeds. As I said earlier, right hand tension can be caused by your left hand, but it can also be your shoulder, your elbow, or even your arm. The exercises provide the only way to figure out where the problem truly is.

To sum it all up, the Principles book isn't one that you read cover to cover and put away, never to be read again. It is a constant reference and guide book to the wonderful world of guitar. The forum is also a powerful tool that is at your disposal, use it and use it often.

Anyway, I'm sure Jamie will have a lot to say about your current situation, so I'll finish up here. Good luck on your journey and stick with it, for the rewards are great! :P
If you want some recipes, I have a few, but nothing's better on guitar, than some "tasty blues stew".
All the Best,
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