One of the most important aspects of guitar playing is to have sufficient power in your left hand to be able to play chords, arpeggios, scales, licks, etc. at a steady beat without getting tired. The three most important aspects of the left hand, in this context, are power, flexibility and agility.
As a guitarist you have to work relentlessly to accomplish the three, with power being the most important of the three. Still flexibility should not be ignored in this context since it plays a vital role in building power with agility.
Agility is a kind of byproduct of building power and flexibility but should not be only treated as such, endless rhythmic exercises will in the end build the agility needed to become a fluent player. This article mainly covers the power aspect.
Rules of Engagement – Constructing a Lesson Plan
There are certain things you have to have in mind before starting to build power. Building power is a long term plan, it is not something you can accomplish in a week or a month. It is vital that you do not try to hurry the process, trying to cut corners while building power to the left hand can result in serious injury to you hand, gradual building of power is something that should be a part of the whole plan.
By making a exercise plan you are simplifying the whole process and improving the odds of a successful outcome of the plan. The plan I present in this article is the exact plan I used my self 20 years ago. For me it transformed my playing from a low level player to a power player with much agility and stamina. I used this plan every day for two years with great results.
The lesson plan is quite simple and that is it’s strong point. The daily plan is as follows:
- Warm up exercises for about 2-5 minutes.
- Power building exercises for 30 – 120 minutes a day, depending on where you are in the plan.
- Stretching the fingers.
A good warm up is essential to a successful exercise. A nice warm up that I used to do is play 1-4 frets starting on the deep 6th string, then moving to the 5th string playing the same frets, then to the 4th string and until you have reached the first string, then play back again until you get to the 1st fret on the 6th string. Then you move the exercise up one fret and do the whole thing again. Keep raising the the fret by one every time until you get to the 12th fret then start moving back to the first fret.
The warm up should be effortless and without strain. The aim is to get the blood flow circulating and muscles moving in order to prepare for the coming strain on the hand. Warm up can also be in the form of stretches.
The main focus of this plan are exercises them self’s. When doing them you should have a stopwatch by your side, preferably one that has an alarm on it that can be set as low a 30 seconds. A egg timer well suited for the job. You can also use the midi files provided at the end of this article, set it up in your computer and let it repeat each exercise.
To start with you should do each exercise at a low tempo 70-90 BPM for about 30-60 seconds depending on your strength and stamina. As you get better at this you should increase the tempo and lengthen the exercise. You should note that as you get better at this it gets harder, since more power and accuracy produces faster exercises.
Measure your progress. Make a journal where you note down the tempo and length of all the exercises you do. Every time you up the tempo and/or lengthen the exercises, note it in your journal. This way you can follow your progress to a detail.
! If you feel you are overdoing it in some way or feel any pain in your hand you should stop! These exercises can seriously damage your hand if you are not careful. If not careful, you can develop repetitive strain injury that can last for a lifetime.
All of the exercises are hammer and pull of exercises. They are all designed to be played lopped. Sometimes the first note is hammered on or pulled of to and that is indicated by bow at the end of the bar. At the end of this document is a pdf files for printout, print it out and use it.
Exercise 11: Hammer on to 10 fret to loop.
Exercise 12: Notes 5th fret on 3rd and 4th strings are plucked at the beginning. Finger both the notes at 5th fret with a flat first finger (bar the 5th fret with 1st finger).
your daily exercises it is vital that you to do some stretches. Here
are some exercises that you should put in to your plan every day.