I have been noticing tension. It is something to think about, especially emphasized with the classical guitar training.
But, I noticed that I have a lot of left hand muscular tension. Especially in the spider and scale exercises (which I don’t do nearly often enough, clearly) I get muscular fatigue in my forearm and hand. Not pain or injury, just strain and soreness, like I am working out too hard or too long.
So, in my incessant perusal of all things Guitar, I was looking at the YT channel of Lucas Imbiriba, a phenomenal and animated player with some lessons and tabs that are far, far outside my capabilities at this point, not even a dreamer stage song, really.
He also has a Udemy.com lesson on “TFI” or “Total Finger Independence”. I looked at the sample video for the lesson, which happens to be about left hand tension.
First, he is a bit overbearing and salesman-like, with the “secret” to easy fast guitar playing. Key the “roll eyes” here. The lesson looks to be a little pricey for a short series of exercises (but only $29, so not too bad). I haven’t bought it.
However, his sample lesson was simple, but very interesting. Basically, he talks about tension in the left hand and shows a simple “check in” exercise to notice the tension. It really is just placing your fretting fingers over the first string, fully relaxed, press the index finger to fret the string, pluck it and while it is playing (so you can tell the index finger stays in the correct place) use the right hand to gently move and check the tension in each of the other fingers and thumb. Do this fretting each finger. This provides feedback to start learning to relax the tension and retrain the muscles.
He then goes on to say this and the other exercises in the lesson should be done exclusive of all other playing (in order to not mess up the muscular re-education) for probably two full weeks and that when he was in conservatory he practiced it exclusively for 5-6 hours daily. He said it was very boring.
I don’t think I could invest 60-70 hours of exclusive trading into this, that would take 6-8 weeks for me, being a working stiff and all.
BUT! I did try the little exercise (with full intent, mind you) for a 10 or so minute stretch each on the 1st and 6th strings. Then I did the spider and lo and behold, I noticed that I could do it with a significantly reduce tension, much less fatigue, just from that awareness. Of course I did the spider super duper slo-mo and with pretty serious focus on relaxation. I have a long, long way to go.
I do think there is a lot to gain from focusing on tension and taking some time to back off to simple, slow and intentional exercises focusing on relaxed movements. I wish I had 6 hours a day to devote to this!
I haven’t decided if I will spring for the full program. I am curious, and I suppose I feel that I may have already gotten $29 worth of value from it so I should pay for his intellectual property.
I have a lot of tension…