STRETCH OUT (Diatonic Stretching Exercises for The Modern Guitarist)
Over the years many of my students have always been curious and intrigued as to how I build comfort and control in my chordal technique when it comes to playing close interval voicings and tonal clusters (which because of the tuning and physical layout of the instrument require large finger stretches on the fretboard) or two-voice contrapuntal lines and phrases (which require complete separation of both voices and full sustain of all note values that more than often have to move in very intricate finger patterns).
In this book I want to present to you some of my favorite exercises and practice ideas I have developed over the years for my own playing style and that have been instrumental in developing a very comfortable and balanced technique when it comes to close interval melodic and harmonic playing on the guitar.
The myth that you need to have long fingers to be able to play these beautiful and densely rich harmonic landscapes on our instrument is completely false. Of course, there are certain advantages and limitations when it comes to the physical differences between all of us but the most important aspect required for to execution of such voicings and phrases is flexibility and not size - and that is something we can all work at little by little.
All the exercises are diatonic in nature and are presented through all their diatonic modal transpositions within the G Major scale.
For practical reasons all the exercises are notated from the lowest to the highest position of the tonal center but when you start practicing them I advise you to start on the highest position (where the distance between the frets is smaller and therefore the required finger stretches are easier) and then little by little work your way down through the modal positions until your finger flexibility increases and the execution of the phrases becomes comfortable throughout the entire range of the instrument.
Also, it is important to pay close attention to the value of all notes in each exercise and when you practice always sustain them for their full value as that is crucial in developing an even and well balanced technique especially when the fingers are physically stretched to their maximum.
Last but not least, make sure you practice very slowly and you move in small steps making sure you do not over-stress your hand. Keep in mind this is just like training to be an athlete; to avoid injuries and stress to your body you need to warm up, increase the load and intensity in very small amounts and always be aware of your body and the feedback it sends you.
As always, I hope you have fun with this material and remember that if I can feel comfortable playing such harmonic and melodic lines on the instrument with my small hands, everyone could potentially do it.
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