Weekly Newsletter #9
October 7, 2021
Welcome back to the Max Rich Music Weekly Newsletter!
Today I want to show you an amazing exercise that will be both challenging and hugely rewarding.
But before I do I want to take a minute to acknowledge a flaw in my newsletter. I like to be upfront with everyone and I have been told by some of you that the pictures embedded in the newsletter sometimes do not load properly in your email browsers. If this has happened to you and you cannot view a picture in the newsletter, please go to www.maxrichmusic.com/blog where you can view the latest newsletter in its entirety. There you will have no problem viewing any pictures of documents that are embedded in the email.
Now, on to this exercise I mentioned!
Stretching your left hand is one of the things that is vital for fluency on the fretboard. I don’t mean stretching as in yoga, I mean stretching as in reaching across multiple frets.
There are numerous times where one has to expand or contract your fretting hand in order to hold a note while reaching for another or to play a complicated chord shape. The ability to remain relaxed while reaching far distances is a skill that will pay huge dividends in the long run, and one that must be practiced in order to occur naturally.
This element of practicing something until it is second nature is something I want to stress. I see many students practice something, even rather intensively, but who never truly master what they are practicing. After a while they get bored or convince themselves they “really nailed it” and then move on to something else. The result of this is honestly just wasted time.
If you practice something but it never becomes second nature, to the point where you can freely execute that task without thinking in the midst of a song or solo, and even under pressure, then you are necessarily relying on your cognitive ability to get through that task. The problem with this method is that when playing guitar, thinking is the last thing you want to do and one of the things you shouldn’t be doing at all!
You want to hear your way through music, not think your way through music.
It is with this in mind that I introduce to you the mother of all stretching exercises. This complex pattern begins on fret 12 and traverses the 4 lowest strings across frets 12, 13, 14, and 15. See the tabs below (or check the blog on the website if it does not load properly.)
This snippet from the entire exercise is simply the first position. This alone will present quite a challenge and will likely take a session or two to get under your fingers.
The trick to accomplishing this is to remain relaxed and minimize tension in your knuckles. If you are tense and tight because you have to reach so far it will absolutely inhibit your ability to do so. Being loose and relaxed is truly the only way to master this.
That being said, the object of this exercise is to reach across numerous frets, adding one fret at a time until you have one empty fret between each finger. The caveat however, is that the chord must ring clearly and loudly through each stage of the progression.
From the starting position you play each string and let them ring. Then your first finger moves back one fret while all the other fingers remain static, again allowing the chord to ring out fully. Then your middle finger moves back one fret creating space between the middle and ring fingers. Following that, the final move of position one is to move your first finger back again while your pinky finger moves forward. Now you should be on frets 10, 12, 14, and 16. Holding this position for as long as possible, while the chord rings clearly is essential.
Remember, stay relaxed.
If you can do this, you are already way ahead of the curve. This exercise took me months to master when I was a music student in college.
From fret 10 you begin the exercise all over again starting on frets 10, 11, 12, and 13 and eventually ending position two on frets 8, 10, 12, and 14.
For the full tab of the exercise click here.
And a video of the exercise can be found here.
This exercise will likely take you many weeks if not months to complete. As you can see from the full tab and video, the complete exercise takes you all the way down the fretboard until you are on an open 6th string and frets 2, 4, and 6 on the other strings. This is a very wide and difficult stretch to master and it is unlikely you will ever need to play something like this in real life.
However, if you can play this as an exercise, then virtually any reach or stretch you encounter in a song will be simple in comparison.
Be patient and set goals for yourself. Perhaps one position every two weeks, or something that seems attainable given your current playing level.
If you have any questions or issues or would like personalized help with this or anything else guitar related, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading the Max Rich Music Weekly Newsletter. If you feel like you have benefitted from this and would like to share with any guitar-playing friends, that would be hugely appreciated.
Also, any referral you may give for private lessons from me will be rewarded with a free 30 minute lesson for yourself.