In this final installation of Get Better Faster, we apply everything we've learned about the mechanics of the instrument to that most challenging of hurdles for new guitarists –– bar chords. Learning to play bar chords comfortably is a daunting but necessary part of every player's development; the key to mastering them successfully has a bit to do with understanding how to hold your hands, but even more to do with patience. This one just takes time! But, you can make that time easier if you begin to understand the way bar chords actually work.
So, we've spent a few weeks talking about the left hand, the shape of the left hand, and how to organize your technique to take pressure off of your wrist and palm. But, how does this work in real time? In other words, is it possible to take this newly-organized shape and apply it to actual songs? One thing I see in my beginning to intermediate students–particularly in adults, who tend to be a bit more focused on the idea of 'success’–is the left hand's unconscious tendency to 'double-check' itself.
Let's talk about shapes! Also, let's take a look at my tiny hands. If you watch this video, you'll see that my hands are small. Like, really small. Smaller than they should be for someone my height, and definitely smaller than those of the average guitarist. This is ok!
If your hands are tired, crampy, sore, or moving too slowly, odds are that they're working too hard! I'll explain. When I was fifteen my French teacher unknowingly gave me a lifelong practice “assistant” when she volunteered to give Iyengar-style yoga classes once a week after school. I was instantly hooked.
A lot of teachers will try to keep your business by giving you quick fixes or showing you songs and riffs before they show you how to hold the instrument so you can actually play. Many students come to me after they “hit a wall” – they feel like they aren't getting better, their hands or wrists hurt, their technique has stopped improving, or they don't know how to find their way around the fingerboard.