left hand endurance tips

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left hand endurance tips

Post by Asafbzm » Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:55 pm

Hi! i am currently playing la catedal by barrios and am having difficulty with the third movement as I found my left hand gets tired very quickly (especially my thumb) and playing the entire piece from start to end is actually pretty painfull. Does anybody have any tips to deal with this?

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Re: left hand endurance tips

Post by Argent » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:35 pm

Are you relaxing the thumb when changing barre chords? Also you maybe are pushing harder with the left hand fingers than necessary at the moredifficult passages ..
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Ren Leblanc
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Re: left hand endurance tips

Post by Ren Leblanc » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:02 pm

The last section is very difficult on the hand - no question there. I am working on it right now. I had to switch up the fingering on one of the parts, which helps a lot.

One thing I did to ease the pain is to play the open A string instead of the A on the low E string 5th fret when it changes to the D major part( the first position shift after the initial D part). You lose clarity on one of the upper notes ( I simply mute it, still hitting the string so the rhythm still gets across), but it gets the point across and I find it makes the section much more tolerable on my left hand since you're not stuck with that very awkward bar for so many measures.

Other than that try practicing it slowly and relaxing your hand as best as possible.

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Re: left hand endurance tips

Post by Ren Leblanc » Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:16 pm

I would suggest stopping when your hand hurts and taking lots of breaks - I blew my hand out learning Bach's Fugue years ago ( the one played in Aminor- BWV 1000) and have never truly recovered from that - so I am very careful now and I have to avoid certain types of parts as my hand can tire quickly. I over did it trying to play it over and over without proper breaks etc..

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Re: left hand endurance tips

Post by ronjazz » Fri Dec 14, 2018 1:32 am

Ren is right: don't overdo it, and do find exercises that strengthen the left hand (Pumping Nylon and Kitharologus have some good ones). Ply scales, they strengthen the hand as well as teaching finger independence. Don't try to play through the whole 3rd movement at one time until you know that you can.
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Larry McDonald
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Re: left hand endurance tips

Post by Larry McDonald » Sat Dec 15, 2018 2:33 am

Try a deep massage of the muscles in the thumb before you play. Works for me. I always do this before I play Asturias.

These muscles (thenar eminence group, to be exact) are fairly dense and can restrict blood flow if they are under prolonged tension. The pain is the muscle needing new blood, if I understand this correctly.

Let us know if this works for you.
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Nick Cutroneo
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Re: left hand endurance tips

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Sat Dec 15, 2018 3:08 am

I second Lare's Massage advice. In fact, for about 2 years now I've been seeing a Massage Therapist once a month to deal with muscular tension that arises from the sheer amount of playing that I do on a regular basis.

With that said, your complaint makes me thing about how much tension is in your left hand while you play. Especially since you are complaining about the thumb. I'd wager good money that you are squeezing the neck of the guitar with the thumb and 1st finger. This is common for many amateur players, and I suggest that you have a look at some of the LH exercises in Pumping Nylon - but more importantly read Scott Tennants advice and description of how the left hand should function.

With the pieces specifically, I'd take his concepts and ideas and apply them to small fragments of the piece. Forget about trying to play the whole piece, and trying to play it at tempo. Take a measure at a time and apply (to the best of your ability) the advice Scott gives you in Pumping Nylon. Practice slowly and deliberately and include daily exercises which allow you to 1) explore these concepts and ideas and 2) reinforce them into your playing.
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chien buggle
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Re: left hand endurance tips

Post by chien buggle » Sat Dec 22, 2018 11:01 pm

You are definitely squeezing the guitar too hard. You must keep the sensation of near total relaxation in your left hand for the whole piece. Learn to use the weight of your left arm and maybe practice buzzing every note. The most important thing is to keep the feeling of loosness in your left hand/arm/shoulders. Also don't hold your breath and practice all this stuff really really slowly so you don't get tense. It should feel easy to play.

There are also many alternative passages for sections that barrios himself played. Some are significantly easier..

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Re: left hand endurance tips

Post by jaan » Fri Dec 28, 2018 4:59 pm

My hand gets tired in this work too. It's always a challenge for me in perpetual motion movements.

I do two things to combat it: (i) find any millisecond I can in which to relax the left hand, and relax it completely. Tension builds and becomes cumulative. It's important to reset when you get the opportunity. (ii) Practice with a very light left hand, such that you let a lot of notes buzz from lack of pressure. What you'll realize is that many of the notes DON'T buzz, even though you're barely pressing. It will highlight for you that you're pressing harder than you need to much of the time (as we all are) and will acquaint you with how little pressure you really do need.

I have to consciously remember to do both of these things, and do them often, to keep my hand light and loose all the way through.
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