By J. Scott Matejicka
As guitarists, many of the pieces we encounter put extremely high demands on our muscles. In most cases, it isn’t strength we should be concerned with, but control of fine muscle movements. Efficiency of motion is the key. Through slow, precise practice, you will discover how to engage the muscles you need and allow all other muscles to relax. The guitarist must take an athletic approach to practicing. To be prepared technically and, more importantly, to avoid injury, you should begin to develop a daily workout. Choose exercises that are specific to the development of a particular hand movement. When working on a left hand exercise, be sure that the movement in the right hand is simple. When working on the development of the right hand, you should consider starting off by executing the movement on open strings. Once the new movement of the hand has been committed to a muscle memory, begin to involve the less active hand on a higher level. You ultimately never want to lose sight of the movement of either hand especially during the development stage.
Your daily workout should consist of exercises that alternate between your left and right hands. Be sure to use a metronome. It not only helps you develop steady rhythm, but it is a good way to grade your progress. I prefer to leave scales that are one octave and longer for the end of the workout. Here are a few exercises to get you started.