wild left fingers

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Steve Killingsworth, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. Before I am crucified for not having a teacher let me say (for the umpteenth time) I live in a rural area and despite an extensive search, have not found anyone within a two hour drive willing to work with me.

    Okay, like most bluegrassers I started out gripping the neck like a ball bat. Following lots of good advice from various TB folk, over the last several months I have broken that habit and am using the 1 2 4 (and an occasional 3) fingering. The problem is with the pinky. When I depress a string with it, the rest--especially the middle one--want to pop straight up. Consequently, when its time to make the next note, I have to move the fingers down several inches to make contract with the string resulting in slower and somewhat jerky playing. I can keep the fingers down when practicing by going really slow and concentrating. I believe that given time, muscle memory will take over and this will gradually sort itself out. BUT I was wondering if there were any specific exercises that I might try to help things along.
  2. I just took my time, practiced slow and paid attention to my left hand fingers. even practicing at faster tempos I would just check my left hand. Plus having a teacher constantly remind you to watch your left hand helps too, but I undersatnd your situation and I'm not preaching.
  3. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    My two cents:

    a) Just keep that "C-clamp" image in mind. Pay attention to the thumb on the back of the neck.

    b) Practice whole-steps 1-4 alternating with half-steps 2-4, quarter at 120, on all four strings. If you bow, all the better.

    Hope this helps.
  4. Make sure you're not "squishing" the string with your pinky. Use all four fingers to apply pressure on the string and press it down.
  5. I would reccomend working on excercises (scales and such) with one finger at a time, using no assistance from the other fingers. That way you can work toward developing complete independance between your fingers which helps a lot in working out complex fingerings. I know that might not be your goal, being a bluegrass player, but since you seem to be having a problem it might be a good idea to work in this general direction. Also, make sure you're keeping the fingers arched, and playing 'on top' of the fingerboard, rather than squeezing the strings with pure hand strength. Good luck, and I hope this makes sense...