Guitar playing is one of the most popular ways to personally play and enjoy music. The appeal of the guitar is mostly due to its presence in practically all popular and rock music recordings. Furthermore, it is an instrument that is very portable and versatile enough for many kinds of songs and occasions, and is practical as an accompaniment to vocalists or other instruments. Playing the guitar requires more than the requisite musical ability, dedication and practice. A guitar player's fingers must be dexterous and agile to allow quick single string or chord changes in rhythm or solo musical performances.
Those fingers also need to be tough and strong to be able to press the strings enough during quick changes to produce clean tones. All beginners will remember the first time they played the guitar for an extended period. Our fingertips are originally soft at the very end, with thin skin protecting them. First we feel pain after pressing down on the strings too hard when playing the fretboard, especially all of the fingers except for the thumb. If the aspiring musician hasn't given up by then and continues to practice playing the blisters will eventually dry up and leave calluses on the fingertips.
These calluses will protect the fingertips from the pain of playing for a little while but eventually the pain builds up again as the calluses keep building you end up with thick rough fingertips on a guitarist's left (or fret) hand. Graduating to full chords, the entire 1st and 2nd fingers, which form bar chords across the strings, will also go through the process of pain, blisters and calluses. This process toughens up the fingertips, and makes it easy to press on the strings to produce the needed musical tone on the guitar.
The most effective way to strengthen the fingers and improve dexterity is to practice scales and chords on the guitar itself. Chords and scales will help the beginner become familiar with the different chord progressions and musical configuration of the fretboard - it will help the student master the instrument. Knowing and playing chords and scales will embed the musical secrets of the guitar to the player and make it easier to read, learn and perform music, and to create or write your own music for the guitar. As an added bonus, all that practice will greatly improve the strength and agility of the fingers. With the dual advantage of musical training and strength and endurance improvement, a guitarist can develop the ability to perform several full pieces or songs necessary for a long performance event.
However, there is a danger of over-training. Tendonitis is a common affliction of over-exercising and is prevalent in professional athletes and musicians alike. Tendonitis is caused by a repetitive action of a limited set of muscles, causing inflammation and possible damage to tendons and joints. Because certain athletes and musicians tend to use a focused set of muscles in their activities, they share a certain propensity to this injury. But this can be easily avoided. Many persons over-train when they choose to ignore pain during practice and instead continue to perform the activity which directly leads to tendonitis.
For guitarists, once you feel pain in your wrist or the tender part of your hands, stop. You should incorporate 5-15 minutes of rest between sets of scales or chord practices. Put the guitar down and shake your hand for a few seconds. If you are not tired but still feel pain, change the practice method: if you are doing scales, switch to slow strumming with full chords. Changing the set of muscles you exert can help avoid injury and increase the strength of your fingers. Finally, like an athlete, a guitarist should take care of his body with exercise.
Following are two stretching exercises that will improve the flexibility and strength of your fingers: 1. Stand straight with your arms at your sides and hands facing forward. Stretch your fingers down and outward as far as you can and count to ten. Relax and rest for a few seconds and do three repetitions.
2. With the same posture, hold the four fingers of your left hand (except the thumb) with your right and push them towards the back of the hand. Hold the stretch for ten seconds then relax and continue by doing three repetitions. Remember, strength and agility is achieved by practice, proper rest, and stretching exercises.
Now play on!.
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