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Thread: How long does it take to get over fumble fingers?

  1. #26
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long does it take to get over fumble fingers?

    Good advice all around. I would add to find one or two folks to get together and play on a regular basis. Jams are fine but the tempos are usually too fast for beginners and not geared for them.
    Jim

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  3. #27
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long does it take to get over fumble fingers?

    Re: "Death Grip".... some past posts (going back almost 20 years) touching on dealing with this problem. (Using the new MC "search window" allows you to find much more specific subject matter.)

    = = = = = = =
    Mar-29-2004, 5:51 pm#4
    Death Grip Relief

    Yes, definitely get the neck off of the palm. #LH fingers should lay across the frets at a 45 degree diagonal.

    For loosening up both hands, the aikido wrist stretches (plug that in into a search engine) do a really good job, especially when used on a daily basis. #Names of particular stretches to look for are "sankyo", "nikyo" and "kotagaishi".

    How are you holding the instrument? This could be a contributing factor to clenching. #My recommendation is the combat stance. Just think of carrying an assault rifle or sub-machine gun through the woods or jungle. Position your mandolin the same way.

    If you are standing, consider straight ahead of you to be 12 o'clock. (Clock face is a circle on the ground.) Angle the neck of your mandolin forward so that it is pointing to somewhere between 10 and 11. and elevate the headstock so you'd be firing upwards at a 30-45 degree angle from the ground. #Also, put your left foot forward of the right one by 12" or so. #This is one of the most ergonomically relaxed stances you can play from. It's also more or less the same sort of fighting stance you'll see Steven Seagal, Jet Li, etc. in before they unload on someone.

    NH
    = = = = = =

    mandocrucian
    Descending slide tremelo double stop
    Jul-25-2007, 4:17pm


    Practice more.

    You've already said that you haven't found the point of optimal finger pressure. No doubt you are playing with excess tension and pressure, even if you aren't aware of it. There's a series of wrist stretches (sankyo, nikyo, kotagaishi - these are also grips used on opponents) the aikido practitioners do as part of the stretching routine. I've taught these in workshops for 8 or 9 years.

    I had developed electric guitar vibrato on the 8-string before encountering the aikido stretches at an aikido studio. #But, after 2 or 3 months of incorporating the streches into my workouts, something clicked in and I zeroed in on the point of optimal finger pressure instead of getting close to it. Surprised the h** out of me when real Richard Thompson vibrato started happening. Thought it was might have been my imagination, so I had to get a second opinion from my wife. #Eventually, weeks later, I deduced that the tension relieving hand stretches was what made the difference. The string-bending on the acoutic 8 also really took a big leap forward. #

    There are various bursts of liberation - not having to look, ear>hand telepathy, etc. and optimal LH pressure is one of them.

    Bu don't expect it to happen overnite.

    Niles Hokkanen

    You're a ski instructor, right? It isn't any different than some of those ski issues, except you are using a different and small set of muscles. Find the parallel in skiing, and apply that remedy to this.
    = = = = = = =

    Painful hand
    Feb-06-2010, 5:57pm


    In past mando workshops, I'd give out a photo handout sheet with five different wrist stretches to take home (to help remember them) after the class would be shown them at the beginning of the session.

    These are great for reducing tension in both hands. There was a period about 9 or 10 years ago when I had taekwando classes two nights a week and then went to aikido (at another studio) on two other nights. The aikido folks always went through the stretches at the opening of the class - a necessity, really, to help prevent and minimize hand injuries, as you were getting grabbed and thrown with those same grips - you definitely wanted to be limbered up first.

    I began doing these regularly every day, and after a couple of months I noticed that my electric guitar-style vibrato (on 8 string acoustic mandolin) and bending was sounding better than it ever had in the past. I finally deduced that the tension reduction through all the stretches help me to finally find the point of optimal fretting pressure - and with the elimination of any excessive downward pressure, I was no longer fighting myself pushing or pulling the strings from side-to-side. After that was when I began teaching the stretches to my students. (I had several students that had wrist soreness issues dues to excessive tension or from some previous sports-related injury, and the stretches helped to alleviate that problem.)

    Try these out: Some aikido wrist stretches (http://www.aikido-world.com/highligh...wrist-list.htm)

    Niles Hokkanen
    = = = = = = = =

    Nov-21-2011, 5:25 pm#11
    mandocrucian
    Re: scratchy squeaky slides on G and D

    I slide all over the neck - short slides, long slides, fast slides, slow slides, slideup-slidedown double-slides (e.g. 4>7>4 on one finger sliding instead of hammer-on/pull-off, very raga sounding), broken slides (e.g. 2>4>5>7, same timing as af they were 8th notes, but down with one finger sliding up); I don't have "scratchy" noises. Not unless I'm intentionally doing surf-guitar pick scrape slides...fretting with the side of the pick). (I use regular D'Addario steel J67 strings. no flatwound or coated)

    Slides can be used for -
    shifting position (this can be audible ...notes in-between the starting and target note; or it can be so fast to be inaudible even if the finger stays on the string.)
    slurring articulation ....where the silde gives you more volume than a hammer-on; or gives you the tone you'll get using a slide.
    as an effect ...like sliding down off a note high on the neck - think SRV, Hendrix...or going low to an indefinte high note

    Sliding is a tremendously effective tool for making your instrument sing, and anyone who ignores it really imposes a limit their sound.

    The big "secret" (besides practice) to superior sliding is to discover "optimal finger pressure". i.e. no excess finger pressure. When you find optimal finger pressure, you'll find that doing (side-to-side) vibrato and string-bending becomes much easier/feasible. Most people "drag" rather than slide. It should be like skating on the ice rather than slogging through mud.

    I had been sliding, bending etc. on mandolin for years and years* (there are pedal-steel licks/solos in Hot Licks For Hot Picks and that was done around 1981), but it was really only after I had started doing aikido wrist stretches daily (or every other day) for several months, that I finally found the point of optimal pressure. (This was 15 years or so ago...) I was sitting around messing with a Richard Thompson tune, "Andalus" (off Strict Tempo) and the RT touch/sound was pouring out of the soundhole to a greater degree than it had ever done before. After awhile, I called my wife in and said, "I don't know if it's my imagination or not, but listen to this and tell me what you think." And she said... "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it!!!" It took several months to actually figure out what had occurred (& why), but eventually I realized that the aikido stretches had loosened/relaxed the grip etc. and led to using just/only the minimum finger pressure required. After that, the vibrato got better and better, and I bent more and more strings. And with the vibrato/bending, I also began microtonally adjusting pitches to something "sweeter", or to having more tension, than what you were stuck with at the fret. At this point, I don't think I could stand going back to straight on-the-fret 12-tone-equal-temperament.

    Niles H
    = = = = = = = = = =

    Nov-03-2013, 3:04pm
    Building Hand Strength


    http://i.walmartimages.com/i/p/00/06...72_500X500.jpg http://0.tqn.com/d/homecooking/1/G/-/A/1/paraffinx.jpg
    Karate studio tool: Paraffin wax ball.
    Soften up 1 bar (or bar and a half) of canning wax and shape it into a ball. Use this ball to hand-squeeze, make fingertip depressions in, etc. (Put it in your pocket for awhile before using, your body heat will soften it up a some.)

    To counteract using "too much finger strength" when fretting/playing, doing regular aikido wrist stretches will keep you looser and (more) tension-free, and help you to discover "the point of optimal finger pressure". Combining this with increased finger strength, both LH electric guitar style vibrato and string bending can become a realistic mandolin technique.

    Niles H
    = = = = = = = =

    Niles Hokkanen (mandocrucian)

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  4. #28

    Default Re: How long does it take to get over fumble fingers?

    I agree with the suggestion to find someone to play with regularly! Next to finding that dopamine trigger, it's probably the biggest single ticket to steady improvement.

    Except, perhaps, finding a good teacher. I'm self-taught, and I got off on the wrong foot (on guitar) as a kid. When someone finally showed me things like the proper way to hold a pick, or the proper way to do finger picking (or a number of other things), it cost me years of frustration to cure my bad habits. (Some I still have, sadly.)

    But, in the interests of cheaping out, consider joining the "Newbies" social group here (See "Social Groups" right next to "New Posts" above.) Introduce yourself! Check out the threads for online classes that people are taking. Take a video of yourself playing something and post it.

    Make sure you're holding the pick correctly. My instinct as a 12 year old was terrible! There are plenty of good youtube videos that will help, and it's REALLY important to get off on the right foot on this one.

    Make sure all your muscles are relaxed and not tight. Death-grip is a problem for either hand. At first it's normal, just be aware that a goal is to relax. For fretting, we think we have to push those damn strings HARD to avoid buzzing. With practice and as your technique improves, you'll find that you don't have to press nearly so hard. The ideal pressure is just enough to not buzz, and that is way less than you probably think. (I get far less callused than I did when I was young, even when I'm playing a lot.)

    When learning we also clutch that pick like it's a lifeline. We do this because once we get it in the right place we want to keep it there. But eventually we learn that the pick is constantly moving and we're constantly unconsciously moving it back to where it belongs. Frankly, that takes a while to master, and it's something many players aren't even aware of. So just think of that as a long term goal.

    Another thing that helps a lot to get right to start with is right hand motion. Most of the work should be done using the small muscles of the forearm, which control wrist and fingers, because those muscles are faster and more precise than the big ones that move your arm. I see different styles from experts, but there is a combination motion of your hand when strumming that is partly rotation of the forearm and partly rotating your hand up and down with the fulcrum at the wrist. Try both of these motions alone, and watch videos to see what good players do (and tutorial videos.) I believe the best technique is actually to combine these two, which isn't easy or intuitive. But don't take my word for it, check out some tutorial videos!

  5. #29
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long does it take to get over fumble fingers?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffLearman View Post
    I agree with the suggestion to find someone to play with regularly! Next to finding that dopamine trigger, it's probably the biggest single ticket to steady improvement.
    Playing with someone, getting very close even, that’ll be your oxytocin fix.
    Very enjoyable, slightly different feeling of pleasure. But much cheaper than a night out would be to get an oxytocin fix by simply cuddling your consenting cat.
    Many MandolinCafe members know this!


    Another anti-fumbler exercise is one where you use all four fingers on the A string, and play B, c, d, e, and then quickly, on the same string with no hand shift you play B, c#, d, e.

    IMPORTANT the fingers should align in the air at the beginning of each group of four notes. The decision (made beforehand) is to play the four notes consecutively, but together as a chunk of four.
    You play the four notes like a flowing word of ‘four’ letters, not ‘f-o-u-r’ letters. This is why the alignment has to be decided at the beginning of the chunk.

    Later you can start enlarging the chunks through amalgamation until you’re like say Chris Thile (I imagine) where the whole tune can be a chunk.
    Good luck!


    BTW. for me, fumbling comes from being tanked up with endorphins, adrenalin. These are the fight-or-flight hormones -and most often associated with performance stress (playing with people).
    Last edited by Simon DS; Jun-20-2022 at 2:06pm.

  6. #30

    Default Re: How long does it take to get over fumble fingers?

    All of the above. Plus, keep the following in mind.

    "People overestimate what can be done in one year, and underestimate what can be done in ten."

    It is difficult to maintain motivation over the long run if one is focused on how far away they are from where they want to be. The most sustainable form of motivation comes from developing a love for the journey. Figure out how to make consistent practice enjoyable for you, and someday you will find you have surpassed your original goals without even noticing it.

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  8. #31
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    Default Re: How long does it take to get over fumble fingers?

    I can answer that question! It takes more than one lifetime.
    There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those that understand binary and those that don't.

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  9. #32

    Default Re: How long does it take to get over fumble fingers?

    Quote Originally Posted by bradeasley View Post
    It is difficult to maintain motivation over the long run if one is focused on how far away they are from where they want to be. The most sustainable form of motivation comes from developing a love for the journey. Figure out how to make consistent practice enjoyable for you, and someday you will find you have surpassed your original goals without even noticing it.
    Bingo.

    Occasionally adults have asked me about starting to play a (first) instrument as an adult. I'm always optimistic, but my reply is something like this. Children learn to play much more easily than we adults do, due to three things:

    * Their brains are developing differently -- not much we can do about that!
    * They usually have lots more free time. Well, there's always retirement, if you're lucky!
    * They appreciate simple things.

    Of these, I think the last one is the most important. As adults, even those who never paid much attention to music, we've developed a considerable amount of discernment about music, and initial attempts always fall way short of expectations. Kids, on the other hand, can play something very simple and be really delighted with it. My advice is to try to stifle the inner critic, encourage that kid inside us, and appreciate small improvements.

    I'm still working on the "stifle the inner critic" part.

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  11. #33
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long does it take to get over fumble fingers?

    On a more practical bend, what weight strings are you using? Nobody insists you use heavy strings or medium strings if lightweight will do and are less painful. Granted, once you get used to a specific weight, changing will affect your callouses, but when you start out, being able to play for the fun of it should take precedence over some pro ideal.

    Also, absolutely check out Mike Marshall's youtube videos on holding the mandolin and holding the pick. while some technique from other instruments can be used, mandolin is its own instrument with its own very specific technique and what works on guitar or banjo or uke most likely can't be a direct transfer. If you're starting out, start out with the best technique for the mandolin.

    I find that I'll have bad days when i just can't play, and then I'll just put the instrument down (generally in disgust) and not pick it up for a day. It happens. There are other days when everything sings and I'll play for 2 hours or more just going over stuff. Nobody can be "on" all the time. Just remember that slow and steady wins the race.
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  13. #34
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: How long does it take to get over fumble fingers?

    Agree completely, even just standing up and doing deep breath upper body exercises, then metronome and two minutes of zenning into the groove. More deep breaths, shake out etc. Loosen up and even relaxation singing exercises, trying to find the centre of things.
    Laughing exercises too
    Makes a huge difference.

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