Wednesday, December 20, 2006

As a general rule, the same finger does not perform successive rest strokes. It takes too muchtime to prepare the same finger for a second stroke when another finger could be ready tostart. The commonest way to play a passage of single notes is to alternate the index (i) andmiddle (m) fingers. The motion is like walking the fingers in place—as one plays, the othermoves back to be ready for the next note.

Practical Work
As a first experiment, try playing a succession of notes on the top string, starting with i andalternating with m. Try to keep the notes even and matching each other in sound. Then dothe same thing starting with m.

Note that some players, particularly those specializing in flamenco, develop a preference forstarting single-note runs with a particular finger, usually i. This is in fact counterproductivebecause the best finger for starting a run depends on the specific passage.

Now try the second string, playing i-m-i-m-i-m-i-m, then m-i-m-i-m-i-m-i.

Finally, do the same practice on the third string.

After that, try the same exercise that you did with the left hand alone, playing the first fourfrets of each string, this time with both hands.

When you reach the highest note, come back down the guitar playing the frets in the orderfour, three, two, one on all the strings. This makes an excellent daily warm-up exercise.

If you try the string changes reversing the fingers, i.e., using i-m where I have suggested m-i,you will find making the change from string to string harder. This is a basic principle offingering—where possible, we cross strings as shown above. However, we need to be able todo it both ways, because the easy method of crossing is not always practical.