Right/left synchronization

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by jtwang, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. jtwang

    jtwang Member

    Messages:
    501
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    I've been listening to (and watching videos by) Eric Johnson a lot lately. IMO, his uncanny left hand /right hand sync is one of the main things that separates him from other pros and probably one of the reasons so many - even non musicians - comment on his sound, that it's so smooth and fluid.

    Syncing your hands perfectly should really be the basis of any player's toolbox but somehow it's often overlooked. There is a "good enough" mentality I think; we can get away with some bad sync so we do and I am one of the main offenders, I'm afraid.

    Which leads up to my simple questions: how do work on improving left/right coordination in your playing? And if already in perfect sync: how did you get there?
     
  2. JohnM

    JohnM Member

    Messages:
    686
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    Location:
    Virginia
    Well, I am by no means in perfect synch...lol.
    I would recommend practicing patterns that change direction often and make you really focus on the rhythm aspect...speed will come later, the fluidity that you mentioned is more important IMO.
    Grab some violin sheet music or the Charlie Parker Omnibook that has a lot of long 8th and 16th note bars. Isolate these patterns and practice them.

    There are a lot of more or less 'standard' melodic patterns that you should get comfortable with, such as practicing all your scales in seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, etc... backwards and forwards...that really helps build your muscle memory, which is what it's all about.
    Plus, once you get comfy with a ton of melodic patterns, picking out solos from CD's becomes muuuch easier. You'll start to internalize patterns and recognize them right away when you hear them. You'll 'see' them on the fretboard before you ever even pick up the guitar.
    Oh and always use a metronome or drum machine!:BOUNCE
     
  3. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Messages:
    14,044
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Location:
    West Village, NYC
    Check a blog entry I made about a class I took at GIT that deals with this. http://www.dkap.info/blog/?p=51

    IMO, the key is to practice slowly and deliberately and to have practice time where you only ever play it fast enough to play it perfectly. But that exercise on my blog will really work wonders. It did for me.

    All the best,

    Dave
     
  4. KRosser

    KRosser Member

    Messages:
    14,100
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2004
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    "the key is to practice slowly and deliberately and to have practice time where you only ever play it fast enough to play it perfectly. "

    - that bears repeating. It's the essence of how to build any kind of precision, to the degree that precision is your goal.

    I have two observations to add to your excellent post:

    1) I wish I knew who said this - "By focusing on precision one arrives at technique, but by focusing on technique one does not necessarily build precision"

    2) Just for me? I'm not a huge fan of "exercises" for exercises' sake. The one on your blog works, I'm sure, but one can (and if one is working on this aspect, should) follow that process through any musical application.

    For both of these points, in other words: I'm less inclined to do this with a 1-2-3-4 finger pattern than I am with, say, Parker's "Donna Lee", the 5/16 section at the end of Zappa's "Echidna's Arf", a Bach solo violin partita, etc. Slowly, slowly, slowly - accurately, with focus on every aspect of hand synchronization, note production & duration

    I'd much rather get my technical exercise from a musical application, and it's the basic crux of how I teach and practice myself.

    (Or even better, ultimately - turn it into a creative endeavor and write your own musical etudes to address your own technical issues - I have a few of my own)
     
  5. JohnM

    JohnM Member

    Messages:
    686
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    Location:
    Virginia
    Very good point Ken, and it brings to mind the idea that if you spend all your time practicing 'exercises', when you perform you'll sound like you're practicing!
     
  6. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

    Messages:
    14,736
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    I remember EJ saying in an interview how he'd take a line and play it/arrange it various ways until he found a way to play it and fit his technique. That's a different approach from a lot of quick players. He likes to use a lot of downstrokes and not use his pinky all that much, for lead playing, that simplifies things right there.
     
  7. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Messages:
    14,044
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Location:
    West Village, NYC
    Love that quote!

    Great post, man. And I'm with you. I think by and large too many "exercises" is a really bad thing. I guess it was easiest for me to do it with the 1-2-3-4 thing starting out to get the concept of only moving when absolutely necessary. It makes sense to spend (a brief) time practicing everything this way every day to ingrain the "muscle memory" if you will. I'll have to see how it pans out for my own practicing.

    Thanks for the added info and the inspiring post.

    Dave
     
  8. Kappy

    Kappy Member

    Messages:
    14,044
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2005
    Location:
    West Village, NYC
    What he said about using his pinky is interesting. I've observed that in his playing/vids. Shawn Lane, who I hear a lot of EJ influence in, seems to have done something similar with his pentatonic fingerings (and perhaps others, I haven't gotten that far into his instructional material yet). They were all the standard 2-note-per string patterns all played with only the index and ring finger --except one pattern that involved the middle finger for one note. He said it facilitated his playing them in odd patterns/groupings, which I also find to be the case. No doubt it worked for him.

    Interesting that Robben Ford (not a chops guy like those two) probably uses his L.H. pinky more than both those guys combined. I guess it's all about what works best for the desired effect.
     
  9. thisfire

    thisfire Supporting Member

    Messages:
    663
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Location:
    San Francisco
    EJ aside, I've found that a great test for right/left hand synchronization is the intro to AC/DC's Thunderstruck (picking, not hammering). I'd say its more of a test than an exercise.
     
  10. Free

    Free Member

    Messages:
    1,305
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    :AOK That's the way to do it - no need for sterile excercises - just need for careful playing of MUSIC. I've noticed players that employ more mechanical, non-diatonic, chromatic, etc pattern based excercises have a tendancy to sound mechanical and less musical, so keep to the music - melodies, solos, riffs and songs...
     

Share This Page