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Difficult Picking Exercises


When writing an article you need to make assumptions about your reader. This article was requested after several posts I made on the topic "Difficult Picking Exercises".

Therefore my assumption is you understand that improvement comes with effort and working on the things you find difficult is where you are going to achieve the most gain. If you are not ready to be challenged, mentally and physically there is no need for you to continue reading this.

What makes some passages more difficult to pick than others?
The factors involved are:
1.Number of notes per string
2.Cross Picking (Outside Picking)
3.Inside Picking
5.Figure Meter (Quintuplets etc.)
7.String Skips
8.Mental Difficulty (I am advocating you think, and am talking about the concept of the line, how difficult it is to understand and execute the particular pattern)


Everything I do relating to learning and teaching music is approached mathematically, using some form of Set theory and Combinatorics. This gives structure and reduces the plethora of possibilities down to a manageable size.

My areas of discomfort in executing various phrases are what I have used as a metric in deciding what to include here, it is likely that these are similarly difficult for most people.

My observations have shown me that the fewer notes executed on one string, the more difficult the phrase.

Physics gives us some understanding of this, since you need to move from string to string more often, it is going to take longer to move to another string, no matter how fast you get. So 1 note per string exercises are the most difficult to alternate pick, also because you are going to be using outside picking and outside picking requires more movement.

It is important to note when you play odd numbers of notes on a string that you will always be outside picking half of the time you change strings.

Even numbers of notes per string allow you to be able to outside pick or inside pick all of the time, depending on what stroke you start with.

Coordination/Figure Meter

There are muscle motions that are less difficult than others. Place your hand on the table/desk/flat surface; now begin tapping fingers in order from pinky to index (pmri), try to do it in time and speed up to your maximum comfortable level.

Now try the same exercise starting with the index finger (imrp). Did you notice any difference in speed? One way is just easier. Now try the same exercise but count 1234 1234, try it both directions and record your maximum speed (Make sure you are accenting the 1).

Now try the same exact physical movement but count 123 123 accent the 1. Do you notice any speed difference? This illustrates my point about coordination and figure meter.

Synchronization/Mental Difficulty

Making your two hands attack the string simultaneously is the constant challenge. No matter how fast you play it will always sound better slower when the hands are in synch.

String skips are difficult for the same reason as changing strings, but now you need to move at least twice as far.

When learning to execute rigid mathematical patterns, lets say a simple one like 21,32,43 etc... in this case the numbers could just be relative scale numbers. This is pretty easy in a chromatic context or major scale context.

Now try to execute 321,432,543 etc.. This one is much more mentally challenging so in this case you picking speed might not be the bottleneck.

This illustrates my point about Mental Difficulty.

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