By: Colin O'Brien
For starters I am not a writer. I am a guitar player and you
probably are too. So if you moonlight as an English professor
please don't contact me with corrections. That being said let's
talk about finger exercises. For this article when I refer to
finger exercises I am talking about the 2,3, or 4-finger
chromatic type exercise.
It seems like there are two schools of thought when it comes to
finger exercises. One is that they are totally necessary when
learning. In 10 years of teaching guitar I find this to be about
95% true. The students who work hard on this area of their
playing always do better than those who don't.
The other school of thought is that they are totally useless.
For some players who absolutely tear it up on guitar, this is
true. They became amazing players without doing any finger
exercises but for the most part, players need them. I have read
interviews with Yngwie Malmsteen where he mentioned that he
didn't practice this kind of stuff. (Like his playing or not the
guy can throw down with anybody.) There are always exceptions.
Steve Vai has reported to have practiced finger exercises as
much as 3 hours a day. They were that important to him. Robin
Trower is said to have practiced them "religiously" for a year.
I have read articles with B.B.King, Zakk Wylde, Tom Morello and
a boatload of other players who all worked on their technique
using exercises. I personally know jazz players, classical
players, country players and metal players all who completely
tear it up and still work on exercises everyday.
Think about this. How much have you improved as a player over
the last week, month or year? If it's been a lot, great! Keep
doing what you are doing. If you are not where you want to be as
a player, grab a metronome, finger exercise book and your guitar
and spend some time trying these out. You will see results. Go
slow and keep track of your metronome settings. Only increase
the metronome by one or two clicks each day. It may not sound
like a lot but after few months you will have sped up quite a
bit. Also by tracking your progress will keep yourself motivated
because you will be able see your results. This in turn will
make you want to work harder. One of the reasons some people
give up on guitar is because they can't see the results of their
practicing. So make sure to do this.
It's very important to remember that this is only one part of
playing guitar. There are so many other areas to address but if
you aren't happy with your fingers better start here.
Anyway, Thank you for listening.
About the author:
Colin O'Brien is a guitar player, teacher and member of the cko
Music family. He is the author of "Left Hand Red- Finger
Exercises and Practice Techniques", and "Jam Band