Fretting hand feels awkward? Try this exercise (not finger stretching!)

Playing Fingerstyle guitar fluently requires precise coordination between the plucking hand and the fretting hand. In this article, we will introduce a simple yet effective exercise that will help improve your coordination.

Your Playing Must Be Relaxed and Fluid

You may be thinking that your playing sounds too stiff and the guitar feels awkward. You may find that your playing is not as smooth as you like. 

In order to play the guitar fluently instrument, you must first have a relaxed right hand position with finger movement from the knuckle. This is crucial to obtaining a fluid and relaxed right hand that can play fast passages and play percussion.

Your left hand must also be efficient and relaxed. I have talked in the past about using hammer ons and pull offs as a way to improve the efficiency of your left hand. It comes down to placing the fingers exactly where they will produce the best sound on the guitar.

You should avoid re-adjusting the fingers after placing them on the fretboard. If proper finger placement is new to you, be sure to practice these exercises very slowly and watch your finger movement carefully.

This exercise is perfect for players of all levels and can be easily incorporated into your daily practice routine. So grab your guitar and let's get started!

A Simple Exercise To Improve Coordination and Fluency

Try this exercise to practice relaxing the right and left hands. I learned this exercise as a warm up from my guitar teacher.

Place the fingers of the left hand on one string in one position. You will be plucking and fretting all notes on one string. Next, play four notes exactly following this formula:

    1. Pluck with the thumb of the right hand the note fretted with the index finger of the left hand 
    2. Pluck with the index finger of the right hand the note fretted with the middle finger of the left hand
    3. Pluck with the middle of the right hand the note fretted with the ring finger of the left hand
    4. Finally, pluck with the ring finger of the right hand the note fretted with the pinky of the left hand.

Tablature for What You Played

If you did this correctly, the tablature notes you played were:


And each note plucked used a separate right hand finger. The notes you played form a chromatic scale on one string.

Move Up and Down the Guitar Neck

Once you have finished, move the left hand up one position (one fret) and begin the exercise a second time.

The point with this exercise is to develop finger independence, as well as returning to a neutral position after plucking each note. Avoid playing this warm up exercise too fast, even if you are able to or you find it boring. 

This exercise can be done as a simple exercise for beginners to practice coordination between the right hand and left hand fingers.

After you finish this exercise you can move on to another warm up, such as scales, or start playing a song.