A very common technical issue for all guitar students is the problem of separating fingers 2 & 3. Every time the 2nd finger is used, the 3rd finger squeezes against it! This will cause problems with just about everything you play. This problem shows itself especially in scalar playing, and for people using The Principles, it often appears as an obstacle when working on the Walking Exercises.
One student put it this way: “The “All aboard” concept (placing all fingers on the 6th string with equal curvature and spacing of all fingers) is moving along but for the life of me I can’t seem to get a space between my 2nd and 3rd finger. They bunch up continuously (and I do feel I am relaxed). Will this separation happen naturally as muscles progress? This happens at the 7th fret…so I tried the 10th, same deal.”
Anyone having this problem will find the following technique very useful. It is called “The Touching Technique”. It teaches a finger to stay relaxed while the finger next to it is playing. Keep in mind, when you make a fundamental improvement in your fingers like this, you see all your playing improve!
Try practicing 1 and 2 across the strings while doing this:
Doing this consistently, every day for 5 or 10 minutes, with no tempo, posing, and all the other “Tools” in The Principles, will cause great improvement.
The problem becomes more intense as we approach the 1st string. We must understand a little fact of guitar playing life: the higher the string, the more tension in the fingers. The reason is simple: to play on the higher strings, you have to flex your fingers more. This means the muscles in the forearm which flex the fingers get more and more contracted as you continue to flex the fingers to reach the higher strings.
This is why we practice “whole body awareness”, keeping the whole body relaxed as we play. There is no getting away from the fact that we need “tension” to play the guitar. However, we only need about 1/10 of the tension most people are playing with!
Jamie Andreas has one goal: to make sure that everyone who wants to learn guitar is successful. After her first 25 years of teaching, she wrote the world acclaimed method for guitar "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar". She put everything into this method that was essential for success on guitar. Called "The Holy Grail" of guitar books, the Principles has enabled thousands of students who tried and failed to play guitar for years or even decades, to become real guitar players. In 2012 Jamie was profiled in "Guitar Zero" (Penguin Press 2012), a study of how adults learn to play guitar. Jamie was interviewed along with some of the worlds leading guitarist/teachers, including jazz legend Pat Martino and Tom Morello ("Rage Against The Machine").