How to control your fingers!?!

So they run wild. Then they are very good. Then it’s like they forgot.

So frustrating…here’s a minute:


I think you just keep doing it until your brain stops getting in the way.


I would say it’s simply repetition combined with the right amount of rest. You’re really just building up muscles that are being utilized in ways they never have while also forming muscle memory. What I’ve been doing up until a few days ago when something clicked and I was able to put everything together and do whole songs was to go with anywhere from two to four chords and do what I call fancy chord change exercises. I would just pick some chords and go with whatever strumming pattern my brain felt like at the time and just roll with some melody over and over. That’s it. Just do it until something happened. I’ve slowly been adding steps to that procedure as I’ve found light switches and flipped them on.

Last night I was glancing through the songs on here and clicked on the Last Christmas lesson. I tried the DDUUD and a couple other patterns but my brain wanted to go DDUDDU - 12&34& for one bar then DUDDUD - 1&23&4 for the second bar. I played the C-Am-Dm-G progression over and over for an hour or so. At times I just played, letting the fingers fall where they may so to speak. Then I would talk to them and say things like, “You see how when you switch to Dm and your third finger lands where it does making it sound like shit?” I’m hard on myself and trying to change that. So then I’d go with something like, “It’s okay 'cause everyone does. It takes time. What if you slide that finger over just a smidge? Doesn’t that sound better?” And it did. So I repeated that process chord by chord, finger by finger.

After 49 years of whips and spurs I’m finding my brain is a wild stallion that can’t be broken by conventional means. I’m having to turn myself into a horse whisperer. Practice makes perfect is what they say. I think it was Justin who said something along the lines of practice creates habit. Which is true. So to get those finger under control, I’m just letting them run wild all they want while whispering words of encouragement and suggestions for improvement until I find the words the thoroughbred in my brain responds to.

TLDR: Practice, practice, practice. :rofl:


This: I find when I think too much, I screw things up more often than not.


Robert, I face similar challenges. Especially toward the later stages of a piece, it’s as if my fingers or brain or both get fatigued and become sloppy. What I’ve been doing is to start from the place where it’s still going well - just before things go sideways - and practice from there, however slowly I must so that I can get it right.

For my part, I think you’re doing a fine job with Jobim. I suspect that, by working slowly through the parts that are giving you trouble, you’ll have it flowing smoothly before long.

Thank you for sharing this. It makes me want to try some bossa nova myself someday. I hope to see and hear more of it when you’re happy with it.

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Hmmm, not what I expected.

As a listener, what I’m hearing is lack of solid rhythm. You seem to be slowing down on some of the chord changes.

Playing with a metronome or rhythm track will probably help. Slow it down enough that you can nail every change - solidly on the beat.

When you can do that reliably, slowly raise the tempo.

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Justin has a “minimum movement” exercise that helped me. I added that to my regular warmup routine.