Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking

Related threads:
How do you hold a guitar correctly? (43)
Travis Picking - Misconceptions (135)
beyond basic chords & picking technique (29)
Guitar Fingerpicking Fun (39)
Guitar - Thumb position (57)
callous (41)
Dr. Guitar's surgery (79)
Ask Dr. Guitar (102)
Guitar: Teeny Tiny Fingers (29)
Crosspicking Guitar (57)
Instant callouses (50)
Beginner Guitar Tips? (112)
Bending Notes on Guitar (51)
Tips for teaching a lefty guitar? (50)
Plodding,Playing, Picking, Perfection (34)
Learning blues guitar (18)
Right hand help /fingerstyle (36)
Guitar right hand technique (50)
Learning to finger pick (69)
Triplet strumming techniques (20)
Rick's Pickin' tips. Questions & Answers (78)
e-groups for beginning guitar students? (2)
In its case or on the stage? (29)
Why Aren't You a Better Guitarist? (43)
Flatpick problem (21)
Folk guitar accompaniment (49)
fingernail strengthening (41)
Help For Finger (9)
Improving Guitar Skills (50)
Why 'boom chuck' on guitar (21)
Learning to play the guitar (53)
Licks, fills, embellishments? (37)
Size DOES matter..but flexibility rules! (20)
Could I play like Doc Watson? seriously. (85)
Building stamina - guitar backup (25)
Help for Pickers - Give us a tip II (101)
Help for pickers young and old. part 3. (55)
Dear Mr. Guitar (103)
Need to learn to play leads (55)
Guitar Help: Extending Reach (20)
Guitarists: Hand position and Volume. (43)
Learning guitar with a wonky digit or 2 (22)
Flat picking + two fingers. for Marion (39)
How can they play that fast? (73)
bluegrass cross-picking (11)
Pull-offs: Always down? Ever up? (18)
Pick like Doc? I'm improving at least! (13)
Help for pickers. Give us a tip. (102)
Where's your thumb? (49)
improvising folk, blues, jazz etc. (27)
Calloused attitudes (32)
Towards better guitar tuning (22)


Little Neophyte 13 Mar 00 - 07:31 AM
Easy Rider 13 Mar 00 - 08:56 AM
Midchuck 13 Mar 00 - 09:02 AM
Amos 13 Mar 00 - 09:34 AM
GUEST,Bill in Alabama 13 Mar 00 - 09:35 AM
MK 13 Mar 00 - 10:25 AM
Uncle_DaveO 13 Mar 00 - 10:31 AM
Lady McMoo 13 Mar 00 - 10:42 AM
Gary T 13 Mar 00 - 10:49 AM
Rick Fielding 13 Mar 00 - 11:28 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 13 Mar 00 - 12:43 PM
Little Neophyte 13 Mar 00 - 02:39 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 13 Mar 00 - 02:46 PM
JamesJim 13 Mar 00 - 02:56 PM
Little Neophyte 13 Mar 00 - 02:56 PM
Mbo 13 Mar 00 - 03:11 PM
Rick Fielding 13 Mar 00 - 03:18 PM
Whistle Stop 13 Mar 00 - 03:33 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 13 Mar 00 - 03:46 PM
Gary T 13 Mar 00 - 03:47 PM
Little Neophyte 13 Mar 00 - 03:47 PM
Easy Rider 13 Mar 00 - 03:50 PM
Little Neophyte 13 Mar 00 - 04:01 PM
MK 13 Mar 00 - 04:40 PM
MichaelM 13 Mar 00 - 04:52 PM
Mooh 13 Mar 00 - 07:09 PM
Osmium 13 Mar 00 - 07:19 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Mar 00 - 07:33 PM
Mbo 13 Mar 00 - 08:34 PM
Bill D 13 Mar 00 - 08:55 PM
Sorcha 13 Mar 00 - 09:16 PM
Ely 13 Mar 00 - 10:46 PM
Mbo 13 Mar 00 - 11:01 PM
Rick Fielding 13 Mar 00 - 11:19 PM
WyoWoman 14 Mar 00 - 12:58 AM
GUEST,Bill in Alabama 14 Mar 00 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,Bill D..working without cookie 14 Mar 00 - 08:22 AM
Whistle Stop 14 Mar 00 - 08:30 AM
Crowhugger 14 Mar 00 - 09:37 AM
Gary T 14 Mar 00 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 14 Mar 00 - 09:58 AM
Jeri 14 Mar 00 - 10:03 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 14 Mar 00 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 14 Mar 00 - 11:46 AM
Whistle Stop 14 Mar 00 - 12:06 PM
Little Neophyte 14 Mar 00 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 15 Mar 00 - 10:51 AM
GUEST 15 Mar 00 - 04:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Mar 00 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,TTCM 15 Mar 00 - 04:14 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 15 Mar 00 - 07:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Mar 00 - 07:47 PM
Whistle Stop 16 Mar 00 - 08:11 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Mar 00 - 08:12 PM
Art Thieme 16 Mar 00 - 08:38 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:













Subject: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 07:31 AM

Though I tend to bring this question up to Rick Fielding at my next lesson, I wanted to toss it out to any Mudcatters too.

When learning a new tune, after being shown where to place my fingers on the fret board, I find it much easier to learn the tune by not looking at the fret board and just feeling where my fingers should go.
I tend to keep my eyes focused on my right hand while picking. This helps improve my picking technique.
But the minute I start looking at my left hand, I start making mistakes. I do not make mistakes with my right hand picking, I make mistakes with my left hand positioning when I look at what I am doing.

I could force myself to learn to play the tune while looking at where my left hand fingers are on the fret board but it feels like I would then be adding one more additional skill to learn on top of all the rest.

This seems to only happen when I am shown a new tune. If I am trying to figure out a tune by myself, I do look at my left hand and once I have learned the tune I may or may not look thereon after.

I would appreciate some insight into why I seem to learn best by not looking at my left hand and just sensing where my fingers should go.
And I would also like to know if I am going to run into unforeseen problems in the future if I continue to learn to play the banjo this way.

Little Neo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Easy Rider
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 08:56 AM

Neo:

You must bear in mind that there are no rules. When you have a new or particularly hard position change or fingering, you look at your Left hand. Whe you have a particularly hard picking pattern, you look at your Right hand. If you don't know the next phrase, you look at the music sheet. When you can play a piece well, try closing your eyes and playing it. When you play a wrong note, you will hear it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Midchuck
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 09:02 AM

"And I would also like to know if I am going to run into unforeseen problems in the future if I continue to learn to play the banjo this way."

The answer to your question is "yes." But the words, "this way" in the question are surplusage.

P.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Amos
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 09:34 AM

I think I hear you saying you are teaching your left hand to think for itself. If that's the case then looking at it just adds an extra circuit to the process and interrupts the natural flow of smart fingers. Let them be thegeniuses they are :>), Knowing the neck in Braille will only make you a better player, IMHO.

A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: GUEST,Bill in Alabama
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 09:35 AM

Li'l Neo--

I like what Easy Rider said--There are no set rules. I prefer not to look at either hand; I prefer to look at the audience instead.

Bill

Also--pay no attention to the banjo-bashers. Go for it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: MK
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 10:25 AM

I agree as well, with easy Rider.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 10:31 AM

The goal is to look at neither hand, but to look at the audience; establish eye contact at various places in the audience. If because of the lighting or your own bad eyesight you can't actually see indidividuals, look anyway, shifting around to different places AS IF you were making eye contact. It is amazing how much better this makes your performance seem!

Dave Oesterreich


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 10:42 AM

Agree with the above...when performing try to establish a rapport with the audience rather than your hands and, when practising, try to go for that "magnificent muscle memory" as far as possible. It will pay off in the long term.

All the best,

mcmoo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Gary T
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 10:49 AM

It sounds like you have a "feel" many of us might envy, perhaps similar to that possessed (out of necessity) by blind performers. I agree with the previous replies, and simply suggest think about how to use your vision to your best advantage.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 11:28 AM

Nope, I don't think I'd get much of an argument by saying that Easy Rider and others are spot on with the "no rules" concept. Naturally different approaches are going to work slower or faster, depending on the dexterity, time available, and mindset of the learner. Everyone who teaches (or has played for a number of years) has "theories" however. Hmmmm, might be a good thread...even tho it's been done before.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 12:43 PM

Actually, I think that you will turn out to be a pretty good banjo player, because you are taking a very hard look at the process by which you are leaning--

Your question is so penetrating that even the master, Rick Fielding can't really address it(I have to put that detestible *BG* here so everyone knows I am making a joke and not really flaming Rick---Life is so complicated some times!!!!)

It isn't true that there are no rules--there is a precise way that we each acquire information, interpret it, re-organize it, teach it to ourselves, and then integrate it with the other things that we know so that we can recall it and use it when we need to--

The thing is that the process is different in different people, and each person has to learn how it works for them--A small aside, here, people who have trauma to their Central Nervous System experience changes the the way the process works, and have to learn what those changes are and how to adjust to them--

Anyway, what probably happens for you is that when you look at your fingers, your mind begins to analyze what your fingers are are doing and because you can't analyze what you are doing as fast as you can do it, you lose your concentration, and start to make mistakes--Or something like that--

Playing music is really just a matter of organizing and co-ordinating, and the better you understand how your own internal system for processing information works, the better you will be at organizing stuff so that you can use it--

Of course, a good teacher knows how you process information, even when you don't, and breaks things down for you in a way that you can use them--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 02:39 PM

Thanks guys, this is really helpful.

M Ted, I understand what you are saying. When I look at my fingers my mind starts to analyze 'what are those fingers doing?'
It feels like I know what to do faster than I can think about it.
Doesn't say much about the cognitive portion of my brain, but we won't go there.

I definitely have a great teacher. He has an excellent grasp on how I process information. And to date, I have found very few people who do understand my style of learning. It must boggle his mind at times, but he intuitively knows exactly what I need and how to break it down for me.

Little Neo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 02:46 PM

No, Little Neo--you are making a big mistake when you dis the congnitive portion of your brain here, you can't expect to be able to analyze things as quickly as they happen--it doesn't work that way--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: JamesJim
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 02:56 PM

I don't think your learning style is all that unusual. I remember going through the same thing when I first started playing. Do whatever is comfortable for you right now and don't worry/think about it. You will change with time and experience (it will happen when you least expect it). Jim


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 02:56 PM

You know M Ted, sometimes I wish I could. I bet I'd be able to save myself from getting into 'deep trouble' at times.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Mbo
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 03:11 PM

A tip from a classic guitar player. NEVER look at your hands, except when playing a VERY complicated section, to make sure the hands are in the right position. Also, NEVER look at the audience. It's distracting. Either stare into space or close your eyes. You need something nondescript to stare at while playing, so you can keep your concentration. When practising, I stare at a piece of blank paper to help me keep concentration.

--Mbo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 03:18 PM

Yup, at times my mind is boggled. Nowhere near as boggled as it was however with the student who would buy a new guitar (very expensive ones) almost every week and tell me with a straight face that each new one "suited his style better than the last one!" He could barely change from a C to G and sung out loudly in a voice that could charitably be called "melodically challenged" but more acurately resembled a dying mountain lion. He payed me a hundred bucks for a two hour session every week, and I got to dread his knock on the door. I'm reminded of the thread about "if you were totally honest". Were I totally honest (and not broke) I'd have said, "You egotistical moron, you'll never get any better until you listen to the advice your paying for...and PRACTICE. All you're doing now is making good instruments sound horrendous!" His self-confidence bordered on the maniacal, and he blamed every unsatisying thing in his life on other people and other things. When he told me that "women found him too cool and too threatening" to go out with him, I pulled the plug. I feel sorry for his current teacher AND the music store who has to treat him decently ('cause he spends a bundle).

Actually Little Neo is one of my favourite students AND has brought food goodies at times! What more could I ask?

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 03:33 PM

As another classical guitar player, I have to offer a different perspective than that in Mbo's message above. I think you will find that most classical guitar players do look at their hands -- primarily the left. This is not limited to beginners; check out performance pictures of Segovia, John williams, Christopher Parkening, etc., and you will find that they keep close visual tabs on their left hands.

What concerned me most about your original message is that you said you watch your right hand to improve your picking technique. This might be okay for a short while (I don't know how much of a "neophyte" you really are), but it will become detrimental if you get to rely on it too heavily. If you stop and think about it, your right hand has fewer options available to it, pretty much stays in the same place relative to the instrument, and so should learn "muscle memory" more quickly than the left. This is true for all styles of guitar playing, and while I am not a banjo player, I have played with enough banjo players to know that this is the norm for them as well.

Of course, if you're playing left-handed, forget everything I just said.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 03:46 PM

I think that I might have had that same student--he used to sit in his BMW in front of my house and talk on his car phone for about half of his lesson time, come upstairs, explain that he hadn't practiced, but, since I was a professional, I should be able to work around that-- Then he would talk about how great his business was doing, and about all the truly gifted people that he had working for him--

He used to pay me a month ahead for lessons, and usually came late and had to leave early--unusual, since most of my students would come for forty five minute lessons and stay thru dinner and most of the evening--(f I could never figure out how anyone ever made any money giving music lessons)--

He was an exhibit building contractor, and as his business turned from good to bad, he lost his home and ended up living in the warehouse--he slept next to his car so that the repo men couldn't get at it--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Gary T
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 03:47 PM

Don't worry, Whistle Stop, we lefties automatically "convert" these sorts of instructions. Years of practice doing that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 03:47 PM

Whistle Stop, I have been playing for about 10 months and I find it is still important for me to watch my right hand.
As I improve my frailing technique, I tighten everything up. That has to be watched for now so that I do not fall back into a looser frail. I'm not sure how 'tight' my form has to become, but I do know I have a ways to go.

Little Neo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Easy Rider
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 03:50 PM

I don't think playing comes naturally, without thinking about what you are doing. Very often I find myself planning a musical phrase, stroke by stroke. When will I lift a finger? Which finger will I fret this note with? Which finger will I pluck this string with? The object is "economy of motion", not making extra motions that are not necessary. Economy of motion actually makes playing easier, but you have to plan it very deliberately, until it becomes second nature. That requires looking at your hands, while you play a phrase slowly, note by note.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 04:01 PM

One more thing Whistle Stop, I only keep an eye on my right hand, just to make sure my form is good. I don't have to look at it all the time.

Little Neo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: MK
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 04:40 PM

Another 2 cent piece of advice, further to the ''economy of motion'' idea....(one which I cannot take the credit for, but stole from ''Mr. Guitar'' himself)...and I think the same would apply to banjo as well...






Only fret the strings with your left hand that you need to make contact with on your right hand, at any given time or interval.

This has served me very well, and keeps your playing...clean, and you don't deplete any more energy than you need to, and your remaining fingers (left hand) are freed up to do other things.

(I'm assuming you're a righty Neo.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: MichaelM
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 04:52 PM

I think you are encountering something with learning (i.e the increased ease when you play without looking) that is typical of deeply learned "muscle memory". The best example I know of this is how we walk down a flight of stairs. If you try and consciously control the shift of muscle and weight you will most likely fall. It is far more reliable to let the part of your brain that stores such long-learned complexities just do what needs to be done. The only time I have had trouble with well-known accompaniment is when I switch to an instrument that has a different scale length or a twelve-fret rather that a fourteen fret neck.

Michael


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Mooh
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 07:09 PM

Pardon me, catcallers. If God (or...insert your faith here...) is in your fingers, no. Good luck, and good fun.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Osmium
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 07:19 PM

If you keep practising it will get easier,; thats a promise. You will reach plateau's where for several day's it doesn't seem as if your making any progress but then the break will come - you clearly like the music you make, stop worrying about when you'll get it right, it will happen in good time. Listen to the music your making; it can help to record yourself, sometimes your making more progress than you think.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 07:33 PM

I reckon you're onthe right lines, Neo - fidddlers tend to be the best musicians around in the folk scene, and they can't see what they are doing too well mkst ofbthentime - and they don't have frets.

At times in a session, playing a guitar, I'll be looking at my left hand, but that's to check what key I'm playing in, and what chords I'm playing. If I tried working out where my fingers were supposed to go while I was playing, I'd go crazy.

While you're working out something you look at the finger and the finger boards, because you want to know where it was you found that note you needed - but once you're playing you let your hands sort it out on their own. And, if you're not on your own you look at the other people you're playing with.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Mbo
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 08:34 PM

Ok, so I lied. I stare constantly at my left hadn simply because I'm deadly afraid of making a mistake! Sorry, I can't play classical guitar anymore...I never really got to learn all the public performance techniques. I'd stare at my hand all day if it'd make me play better.

--Mbo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 08:55 PM

I once watched Norman Blake, Dan Crary, Tony Rice and Doc Watson onstage together.(Winfield, 1971, I think)..fingers flying..(and Norman LOOKED at the audience and carried on conversations, too, as he played..)...but the amazing thing was Doc's fingers, which, unlike the others, only rose from the strings just enough to allow the note to sound! Since he never was ABLE to see his fingers, he moved them as little as possible....so I would guess that NOT looking could work out better in the long run,


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Sorcha
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 09:16 PM

From a fiddler's point of view: I can't look at my right hand, and they're correct in that if I look at my left hand I lose my place. (Maybe one reason I have so much trouble playing on Hearme is because I have to think so much about where my whole body is not to run into anything) I have had people tell me they are "amazed" that I can play in the dark.....? Fiddlers have to learn to play be feel.

From a "neophyte" mandolin player's point of view: If I trust my left hand, I am more likely to find the correct frets, but I HAVE to watch my right hand or I get the wrong string(s) or lose the strings altogether!

Mtn dulcimer: You bet I have to be able to see and look at the frets to be able to play. Tried to play in the dark once and embarrassed myself!

REF: Where do you look? Have you ever been to a concert where none of the musicians made eye contact with the audience? It's a creepy feeling. I prefer to make all the contact I can with an audience that has bothered to come hear me play, makes it more fun for everybody. I do agree tho, that sometimes you just have to shut your eyes to block out distractions, but I try not to do it too much or the audience will think I'm asleep.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Ely
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 10:46 PM

Oh, man--I WISH I could do this! I personally try not to look at my left hand because my fingering is appalling (have this problem with piano and dulcimer, too). My fingers are really crooked, too, which doesn't help. Enjoy it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Mbo
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 11:01 PM

I don't know...playing fiddle with your eyes closed or in the dark seems to be easy for me too. I don't have to look at any hand to play fiddle. But then again I'm not that good and can't play anything really difficult that looking at the left hand would be a neccesity. I think it's also much easier to look over the bridge at the audience...much easier than guitar. I have a bad eye, a floating eye, they call it. When I play, I let that eye relax, and float, so I get the surreal double image of the people watching. That kinda takes the scariness out of it, since they look more like some bizarre photographic trick that real people.

--Mbo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 11:19 PM

Bill D. Good point. The "travel time" for fingers is a really crucial step in playing smoothly. It really helps not to lift the fingers off the fingerboard but learn to "glide" them from one string to another.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: WyoWoman
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 12:58 AM

Well, this brings up another issue -- and maybe it should be a new thread -- about learning by watching what others are doing. In a thread sometime ago, one of the posters said something about a "fret hawk" at a jam, and the way he said it was really derogatory. He was referring, I think, to people (like, say, ME) who watch a player to see what fingering s/he is using. I do this because I'm very, very much in the learning mode and watching what others do is part of how I'm teaching myself.

But is it considered impolite to watch other players fingering? I mean, if watching our OWN fingers can break our concentration to such a degree, does having someone ELSE watch your fingering throw you off track?

ww


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: GUEST,Bill in Alabama
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 06:46 AM

Wyo-- Certainly the musicians with whom I jam don't consider it impolite to watch the fretting of others. When I'm playing a song which is unfamiliar to me, or when I'm with a group of folks I don't know well, I try to position myself so that I can watch the left hand of the guitarist in order to follow the chords to learn the tune. Watching others/playing with others--The best way to learn and to acquire versatility.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: GUEST,Bill D..working without cookie
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 08:22 AM

I even re-positioned the chord bars on my autoharp to allow a smoother pattern...so I can play the 3 regular chords with only a twitch of the fingers..


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 08:30 AM

Hey Little Neo -- I don't think you should worry too much about this. As you become more experienced on the instrument, you will rely less and less on watching what your hands are doing. I think you will probably still watch, to some degree; but your brain will probably be roaming all over the place, no matter where your eyes are. It's kind of like writing with a pencil -- you watch what you're doing, and watching can help keep you on track. But where a six-year-old will be consciously telling himself "okay, if I want to make a 'T' I have to draw one line up-and-down, and another line across at the top," someone more practiced makes these motions without analyzing them. You will too.

It's also worth recognizing that the size of the instrument has some impact on all this. A fiddle is pretty small, so the fiddler's hands (which are the same size as everyone else's hands) don't move all that far in relation to the insturment. The motions are complex, but they don't cover that much territory. A guitar or banjo, on the other hand, has a pretty long neck, and if you want to jump quickly from the first fret to the tenth fret, it doesn't hurt to keep an eye on what you're doing so you don't end up on the 11th instead. That doesn't mean you can't do it without looking (somebody mentioned Doc Watson; he is an outstanding player, and of course he isn't watching his hands at all). But don't feel like you're cheating yourself if you do watch your hands -- most musicians do, at least some of the time.

On a related topic, I have found that it can be quite instructive to occasionally watch my hands in the mirror when I play. Seeing your hands straight on can give you a different perspective than looking down on them, and can help you identify awkward finger positions or wasted motions that you might not notice otherwise. It also makes you aware of those horrible faces you make during difficult passages.

Like some of the other folks who commented in this thread, I think your awareness of your playing habits and tendencies bodes well for your future progress on your instrument. Just don't stress about it -- sounds to me like you're off to a great start. Good luck.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Crowhugger
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 09:37 AM

Lil Neo, Thank you SO MUCH for starting up this great thread.

Speaking from experience, avoiding a fixed gaze on your left hand is the best thing you can do for your posture. I went a long way towards improving a sore back by practising left hand "Braille." It seemed to change the learning curve a bit but without making it steeper or longer.

I agree with Michael who mentioned muscle memory. When it comes down to it, if you take away the listening, playing an instrument is highly athletic. It's about training muscles to do the near-impossible without being directly told to.

M.Ted is right too: don't dis yo' brain!

You've got a knack IMHO, just love it and use it. So Rick teaches frailing, eh?......hmmmm.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Gary T
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 09:45 AM

Folks, if you follow Whistle Stop's advice and watch yourself in the mirror, the "extra fringe benefit" is that it won't seem so weird afterwards to watch us lefties.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 09:58 AM

Neo,

The more I hear about your playing style and your compositions, the more I think...."Gee, it must be nice to have some talent." I thought if I played long enough some would magically work its way around to me, but, alack and alas...

For anything more involved than the basic G-C-D chord changes, I have to watch everything: right hand, left hand...head wagging back and forth like one of those little doggie novelties in the car's rear window.

A little off-topic, Neo, hope you don't mind (BTW it should be obvious I couldn't be so presumptious as to even offer any advice to you)....

I was learning a song the other day that had an F#7 chord in a position on the (guitar) neck with which I wasn't familiar (and after I thought about it, it made sense - one of those moveable chord things)...it was the fingering for a C7 moved up 6 frets to F#, with open 1st string. C7 (fingering or positionally) doesn't give me a problem. But making the change in the song from D# (barre at the 6th fret) to F#7, even with the visual clues (i.e., the inlays on the neck)....I still have to think about it. Makes me wonder why the location of the chord gives me such a problem when the fingering doesn't. Things that make you go "hmmmm..."

Sorry for the thread-drift, Neo. I'll crawl back into my hole now.

Neil


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Jeri
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 10:03 AM

I have a theory...well, I always have a theory. I agree about muscle memory. You're not training just your mind to play - you're training your fingers as well. When I sing and look at the words, and it's a song I could probably sing just fine without the words, I mess up a lot. I think it adds interference. You not only have to concentrate on feel, but sight as well. I play fiddle and hardly ever look at either hand. When I started learning how to play fiddle, I did look at my hands, like you look at your right hand. You teach them what to do and give them more guidance until they've got it, then let them continue on their own.

One other idea - where you put the fingers of your left hand won't change unless the tune or chords change, but the picking pattern may. Maybe you want to keep the right hand open for change, and not commit the picking to "muscle memory" right away?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 11:35 AM

dear little neo

so tiny and small, so cozy and cute

It's little neo, with a style to suit

only she will be able to be her genious

waiting for her between know and good guess!

practice!ttr


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 11:46 AM

I think I agree with most of the other postings (so why am I writing?) the RH pattern will stay relatively constant once learned, but probably DOES need to be watched at first until that goes into "muscle memory" (love that term) the LH is where it can jump all over the neck and that may need to be watched for a lot longer. Meanwhile I do not consider it impolite at all to watch somebody's LH like a "fret hawk" in fact consider it a great compliment when it happens to me! (last year at Clifftop Mac Benford and I were playing double banjos and each staring intently at the other's LH patterns! and I suddenly became aware of it. . . ) Little Neo, you were once kind enough to send me a series of chords which was the skeleton of a tune you were writing-- were they all down the neck in the first position or did the tune go elsewhere? (you may not even remember this & have moved beyond it) I found that tune fascinating & compliment you again on creating it!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 12:06 PM

I had to jump in again -- can't leave well enough alone, I guess. The "muscle memory" everyone is referring to should encompass more than memorizing right-hand picking patterns and left-hand chord shapes. It really involves memorizing where everything is on the instrument, so you can go wherever your creative urges take you. If it's just repetitious patterns with the right and pre-ordained chords with the left, you will never move beyond that to gain mastery of your insturment, and your playing will quickly become uninteresting, to your audience as well as yourself.

I'm not saying everyone has to be a Martin Simpson or Stefan Grossman (or Bela Fleck, since this thread was started by a banjo player). And if you've only been with your instrument for ten months, it's nice to have some shorter-term goals. But chords and straight-ahead Travis picking get kind of boring after a while -- if and when you're able to move beyond them to develop a freer relationship with your instrument, whole worlds will open up.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 01:45 PM

Once again, I'm getting so much help, thank you.

Whistle Stop, I get what you are saying.
I am learning everything I can at once. Strengthening my chord postions, learning scales, and picking styles. At the same time I am slowly memorizing where everything is on my banjo so that ultimately my goal is to become so familiar with the fret board that I can just flow wherever my creativity takes me.
And I have my hands full of frets to work with being I have a long neck banjo. I think Rick suggested I buy it just to force me to slow down and absorb what I am learning.

Pete Peterson, I remember sending you those chords, and the positions on that tune do move up the neck. If you have an email address, I will send you my tune by Voizmail. I would like to start using Realproducer but I have not gotten around to it yet.

And Neil, your postings have always inspired me to keep on creating. That has to be the greatest advice of all.

Little Neo


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 10:51 AM

Little Neo (what happened to Banjo Bonnie?) I will send you a Private Message from home giving you my email address. I don't suppose you could hide in Rick's baggage when he comes to the States in April? I have told Annap that I will be there and look forward to meeting him & Ms. Boots


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 04:00 PM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 04:03 PM

Maybe you've got big hands Neil? Gets more crowded as you go up the neck. Even making the "same" chord shape involves different positions for the fingers.

There are chords I can easily play up the neck that I couldn't further down, without great difficulty, and vice versa. But generally I think that less is more most of the time in this business, and too many chords spoil the broth. (Though I suppose a lot of the time what feels like the same chords are technically different chords because yiou're moving your fingers around a bit.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: GUEST,TTCM
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 04:14 PM

To Thomas the Rhymer,

We are sick to death
of your little rhymes,
which are annoying, and trite,
almost all of the time.

Will Smith you are not
nor Mulhamad Ali,
but Dr. Seuss
to a power of 3.

Try speaking in sentences
Practise on your wife
But spare us your ''prose''
and get a f--king life.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 07:35 PM

Kevin,

Nope...short stubby fingers. But I get what you're saying.

I'm sitting here now, box in hand, fretboard staring at me with all the mistakes there just waiting to be made. I put my fingers on the board and strum a C7, no problem. Not one of the easiest chords for me to make (I don't like it all that much and don't play it very often), but not difficult either. I move six frets up and try the same fingering: fumble fumble. And even though the frets are a little closer up here, it doesn't look like my fingers had to move that much closer together. Maybe it's a horizontal thing. *BG*

Neil


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 07:47 PM

I actually find a C7 up there (where I suppose iits become a, F7) easier. But the shape is fractionally different, so if I was forming it up there I haven't got the muscle memory - but I might quite likely tend to form it down at the bottom and slide it (silently) up, and that to some extent avoids the difficulty.

Julian Bream, incidentaly has stubby fingers - not at all what you'd expect in a classical guitarist. Never stopped him.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 08:11 AM

Thomas the Rhymer -- I think that what you do is great; you're creative and entertaining. Notwithstanding the comment above, I hope you keep it up; reading your messages is a lot of fun.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 08:12 PM

If you set your browser to the smallest text size, it's still fine for reading the threads, quicker for scrolling through them - and the little tiny nasty posts just turn into squiggly black lines. I recommend it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Fingers, Hitting Frets, & Not Looking
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 08:38 PM

When on stage I tried to stare at the mike right in front of my nose. I never looked at my hands. The result was my eyes crossed and gave an interesting comic effect to even the most serious of songs. Try singing "The Death Of Queen Jane" or "EAST TEXAS RED" with your eyes crossed. ("...And Red was dead when the other two men sat down to eat their stew.") A wonderful cure for depression and a whole other dimension to one's set.

Love,

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 24 January 9:34 AM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.