What is Technique?

cartoon_hand_RHMusical technique is simply the physical aspect of playing a musical instrument. The ability to exert efficient, optimal control in order to produce the precise musical effects that are desired. Improving one's technique generally entails practicing exercises that improve one's muscular sensitivity and agility. Technique is independent of musicality.

To play the guitar or ukulele effectively, your fingers need strength, agility, flexibility and coordination.

Here's Wikipedia's definition of Technique.

Technique is the physical control and coordination needed to play an instrument or sing. It involves position, efficiency of motion and effort, as well as exercises to develop specific skills.
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Technique is the physical side of the instrument. Beginning with fundamentals like fingering hand position.

For guitar one aspect is using a pick, the pick hold and the picking motion.

Fingerstyle on the ukulele and guitar can and should also be explored.

Strength, independence, coordination and endurance need to be developed for the both the right and left hand, regardless whether using a pick or fingerstyle, or the hybrid technique of pick and fingers.

All aspects of right and left hand technique can developed through a series of graduated exercises to develop this strength, independence, coordination and endurance. The mechanical emphasis is just the beginning. Once you have a grip on the physical skills, you graduate into musical technique. Scales, arpeggios, intervals and sequences are all explored through the six essential fingering principles. The goal of these studies is to give you the control you need to play what you hear.

No Movement - No Sound

cartoon_hand_RHThe right hand, for right hand players and left hand for left hand players, is responsible for getting the strings moving – No movement - no sound.

Strings can be plucked, picked, strummed and any combination of the same to get the strings moving.

Pick up your ukulele and finger a C chord. Nothing happens until you get the strings moving. Everybody sounds the same until they get the strings moving.

An interviewer once told the great guitarist, Chet Atkins. “That guitar sounds great”. Chet put the guitar down and then asked “How's it sound now?”

Initially my fingerstyle technique was limited to Bossa Nova style accompaniment using fingers. It wasn't until I started developing my concert repertoire for ukulele that I really started exploring legit fingerstyle technique. With 20 plus years as a private guitar, bass and ukulele teacher, and up to 60 students a week at times. I know the value of dedicated practice when it comes to learning specific instrument techniques.

SO I set out to explore fingerstyle and incorporate in to my playing repertoire.

Fingerpicking can be organized in to two styles:

  • An Alternating Thumb, a strumming style that utilizes the thumb and two fingers. on guitar it's called Travis Picking and on banjo it's Scruggs Style
  • And a classical guitar finger style that uses the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. The traditional p i m a classical guitar technique.

Left Hand

cartoon_hand_LHThe Left Hand is the fretting hand, responsible for fingering notes and chords on the fingerboard.

The names of the left hand fingers are identified using Arabic numbers: 1 2 3 4. For guitar and ukulele the thumb doesn't count as it's main role is in support of the fingers applying an opposite and equal motion to the fingers.

Right Hand

cartoon_handThe Right Hand is responsible for plucking or strumming the strings. Either using a pick, fingers or a combination of a pick and fingers.

If you're studying classical guitar these would be initial p i m a of their corresponding Spanish names. We're not so we'll use the English initials thumb, index, middle ring, pinky

Technique Lessons for Ukulele

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