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Playing Guitar - Oh&s, Posture and Other Considerations

Updated on August 8, 2014

Oh&s, Posture and other considerations.

Posture and holding the guitar

Sit with a straight back and the guitar sitting on your right leg. Your right arm should rest easily over the top of the guitar’s body. The left hand gives no support to the instrument. The left hand, when fretting notes, essentially supports itself with its thumb against the back of the guitar’s neck, allowing the fingers the freedom to move across the strings and frets.

Holding the pick

The pick is held between the Thumb and index finger of the right hand. The amount of the pick that sticks out from between thumb and finger depends on the type of music you’re playing. If you’re strumming you’ll want to have about half of the pick sticking out. If you’re playing more punchy chords, you’ll want a little less pick sticking out. If you’re playing fast you’ll want to have only the tip of the pick sticking out.

Safety

Important factors to remember when practicing and / or performing music include protecting your ears. When practicing it’s recommended to maintain an adequate volume. When performing, you’ll more than likely be turning the volume up. This may be okay for a night out occasionally as a member of an audience, but as a nightly, weekly performer, you’ll want to protect your ears with earplugs. (available from music stores)

Weight

The weight of the guitar is also an important factor to consider. If performing standing up, the weight can put extra strain on your back. Adjusting your stance to accommodate for this is recommended. With some experimentation you’ll discover some of the classic rock poses aren’t just to look cool.

Hands and fingers

You also need to maintain the health of your fingers. Adequate warms ups before playing will ensure your fingers are ready to be put to work. If you were running a marathon, or doing any physical work, you would warm up by doing some practice laps and conditioning before the event. Playing an instrument is no different.

Fingertips

In the first couple of weeks of learning a string instrument you’ll notice your fingertips will start to hurt and the skin may even begin to peel. This is normal and can be easily overcome with some perseverance. It is very important that if something hurts it’s best to stop and let your hand / fingers rest. Trying a different position, or a slowing tempo will help. Muscles can be damaged if forced to over perform. Symptoms such as carpel tunnel syndrome are not uncommon to musicians.

Breaks

It is important to take a break if something feels uncomfortable. This is especially important if you’re feeling cramps in your hand or sore fingers. Muscle damage will hinder your playing and other activities in your life. Even if it’s not hurting, you should aim for at least a five minute break every half hour.

Speed

Start of slowly. If you can’t play it slow you can’t play it fast. It’s as simple as that. Speed will come with practice. A metronome is highly recommended.

Other Points of Interest

  • Listen to lots of music
  • Watch DVDs of live shows, especially look at what the guitarist is doing.
  • Try to visualize what the guitarist is doing when listening to your favourite songs. Is it chords, or single notes? Is he playing high or low on the fret board? What techniques is he using?
  • Don’t just listen to the guitar. Try to identify where the guitar fits into the rest of the band.
  • Count along and listen for section changes within the song, i.e verse, chorus, solo, bridge, etc.

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