Warm-up Exercises: The Left Hand

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Warm-up Exercises: The Right Hand

These exercises are designed for when you first pick up your guitar either before practicing or before a gig. These are not for speed at all, but to get your hands warmed up and to eliminate any tension beforehand.

I feel it's absolutely essential to warm-up before playing a gig or a session. Would a sprinter run a 100 yard dash before stretching? Would a football player subject his body to the grueling sport week after week without being totally limber and loose before a game? NO WAY! The risk of injury is too great. The same applies to guitar playing. Believe it or not, playing long, intricate or fast passages can be very stressful on the tendons and ligaments in your hands. The last thing you would want to do is hurt your hands - just ask some of the guitarists whose careers were cut short by tendonitis.

The first few examples are stationary stretching exercises with some variations on them, and the final one is taking a minor add9 chord and moving it down the neck so that your fingers gradually stretch out. Remember that with these left hand exercises, that you keep your thumb behind the neck and not over the top of the neck, but don't curl your wrist too much or you will start to have some problems. Make sure it has a loose feel to it and that you aren't pressing too hard on the frets. And, most importantly... if you feel any pain... STOP!

NOTE: Don't blaze your way through these exercises- you'll defeat the purpose. Concentrate on playing each chord slowly and cleanly, and don't force the stretches. Your goal is to limber up your left hand, not hurt it.