What is Technique?
Musical technique is simply the physical aspect of playing a musical instrument. The ability to exert efficient, optimal control in order to produce the precise musical effects that are desired. Improving one's technique generally entails practicing exercises that improve one's muscular sensitivity and agility. Technique is independent of musicality.
To play the guitar or ukulele effectively, your fingers need strength, agility, flexibility and coordination.
Here's Wikipedia's definition of Technique:
Technique is the physical control and coordination needed to play an instrument or sing. It involves position, efficiency of motion and effort, as well as exercises to develop specific skills.
Technique is the physical side of the instrument. Beginning with fundamentals like fingering hand position. Technique is pretty much style agnostic and transferable to a wide range of styles and genres.
For guitar one aspect is using a pick, the pick hold and the picking motion.
Fingerstyle on the ukulele and guitar can and should also be explored.
Strength, independence, coordination, and endurance need to be developed for both the right and left hand, regardless whether using a pick or fingerstyle or the hybrid technique of pick and fingers.
All aspects of the right hand and the left hand technique can be developed through a series of graduated exercises to develop this strength, independence, coordination, and endurance. The mechanical emphasis is just the beginning. Once you have a grip on the physical skills, you graduate into a musical technique. Scales, arpeggios, intervals and sequences are all explored through the Six Essential Fingering Principles. The goal of these studies is to give you the control you need to play what you hear.
No Movement - No Sound
The right hand, for right hand players and left hand for left hand players, is responsible for getting the strings moving – No movement - no sound.
Strings can be plucked, picked, strummed and any combination of the same to get the strings moving.
Pick up your ukulele and finger a C chord. Nothing happens until you get the strings moving. Everybody sounds the same until they get the strings moving.
An interviewer once told the great guitarist, Chet Atkins. “That guitar sounds great”. Chet put the guitar down and then asked “How's it sound now?”
Initially my fingerstyle technique was limited to Bossa Nova style accompaniment using the technique I learned as a jazz guitarist. It wasn't until I started developing my concert repertoire for ukulele that I really started exploring legit fingerstyle technique. With 20 plus years as a private guitar, bass and ukulele teacher, and up to 60 students a week at times. I know the value of dedicated practice when it comes to learning a specific instrument techniques.
So I set out to explore fingerstyle and incorporate in to my playing repertoire.
Fingerpicking can be organized into two styles:
- Alternating Thumb Style — a strumming style that utilizes the thumb and two fingers. on guitar it's called Travis Picking and on banjo it's Scruggs Style
- Classical Guitar Technique — uses the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. The traditional p i m a classical guitar technique. The traditional Spanish names are: p = thumb (pulgar), i = index finger (índice), m = middle finger (mayor), a = ring finger (anular), c = little finger or pinky (meñique/chiquito)
The Left Hand is the fretting hand, responsible for fingering notes and chords on the fingerboard.
The names of the left hand fingers are identified using the Arabic numbers: 1 2 3 4. For guitar and ukulele the thumb doesn't count as it's main role is in support of the fingers applying an opposite and equal motion to the fingers.
The Right Hand is responsible for plucking or strumming the strings. Either using a pick, fingers or a combination of a both pick and fingers.
If you're studying classical guitar these would be initial p i m a of their corresponding Spanish names. We're not so we'll use the English initials thumb, index, middle ring, pinky
Here are all the lessons tagged covering technique on Learning Ukulele with Curt.
Advanced Single Note Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jan 4, 2016
To develop strong and independent left hand technique these series of graduated drills or finger gymnastics will increase your the comfort zone of usable technique. This lesson expands basic single string drills using multiple strings.
Basic Single Note Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Sep 30, 2010
Basic one, two, three and four note single string drills for ukulele for developing finger strength and independence. It's critical a player develop the finger strength and independence to explore their full musical potential. By developing a great fingerboard hand, you will be able to explore more challenging musical situations.
Four Finger-Four Note Basic Single String Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Mar 20, 2020
To play the ukulele effectively, your fingers need physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination. This four finger-four note drill is designed to get your hands in shape. These exercises work no matter what style of ukulele you play or want to play.
Fingerstyle on `Ukulele - Single and Multi String Exploration • Updated: Oct 17, 2011
Exploring fingerstyle on ukulele. This lesson covers the common terms used for identifing the fingers used. And, presents a series of single and multi-string exercises for exploring and developing the techniques needed for this style.
Chord Switching - Double Stops • Updated: Mar 13, 2021
Switching chords are all about finger independence and working together. This can be developed using the "double stop" fingering drills presented in this lesson. A "double stop" is a term borrowed from violin technique where you are stopping two strings or two notes - an interval.
Two Finger-Two Note Basic Single String Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jan 17, 2020
To play the ukulele effectively, your fingers need physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination. This two finger-two note drill is designed to get your hands in shape. These exercises work no matter what style of ukulele you play or want to play.
Repeating Note Single String Fingering Drills • Updated: Feb 26, 2013
Building on the single note 1, 2, 3, and 4 finger basic gymnastics. Now with a repeating note or two. This series of lessons although the examples are shown for ukulele are appropriate for any fretted string instrument like guitar, banjo or mandolin.
Four Finger, Single Note, Single String Gymnastic Variations • Updated: Dec 26, 2014
All the basic single string one, two, three and four finger gymnastics can be revisited and variations created by moving note to higher strings. Rhythmic variation are also possible.
This lesson takes the original four finger-four notes single string gymnastics and creates adjacent string variations.
Fingering Gymnastics - a.k.a. Fingering Drills Introduction • Updated: Dec 18, 2018
Ukulele Gymnastics series contains quite a few lessons for developing your finger strength and independence of the fretting hand. The fretting hand is responsible for playing chords and single notes. The fretting hand and plucking hand are responsible for getting the music out.
Two Finger Slide Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jul 23, 2013
<p><strong>Slide</strong> is used when the passage can not be played within a single 4 fret span or when more notes per string are needed to produce a particular effect. Itâ€™s also used in situations where a gradually ascending or descending diagonal motion best solves the physical and musical demands of the passage.</p> <p>The following <strong>two finger gymnastics</strong> will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the slide fingering principle into your playing.</p>
Three Finger Slide Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jul 23, 2013
<p><strong>Slide</strong> is used when the passage can not be played within a single 4 fret span or when more notes per string are needed to produce a particular effect. Itâ€™s also used in situations where a gradually ascending or descending diagonal motion best solves the physical and musical demands of the passage.</p> <p>The following <strong>three finger gymnastics</strong> will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the slide fingering principle into your playing.</p>
Two Finger Pass Fingering Drills for `Ukulele • Updated: Jul 23, 2013
<strong>Pass</strong> maximizes the number of notes per string, making the timbre consistent. Itâ€™s used to move up or down the neck to cope with a passage in which the range is unusually large. The pass provides an effective way to move straight up the first string. Itâ€™s particularly useful in developing 3 octave fingerings and in playing melodies with an adjacent drone stringy.
The <strong>two finger pass gymnastics</strong> in this lesson will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the pass fingering principle into your playing.
Four Finger Slide Fingering Drills for Ukulele • Updated: Jun 23, 2014
Slide is used when the passage can not be played within a single 4 fret span or when more notes per string are needed to produce a particular effect. Itâ€™s also used in situations where a gradually ascending or descending diagonal motion best solves the physical and musical demands of the passage.
The following four finger gymnastics will aide in the development of the physical skills to effectively incorporate the slide fingering principle into your playing.
Fingerpicking for Ukulele - Getting Started • Updated: Jun 20, 2019
There are two distinctly different Fingerpicking Styles. The Classical (pima) and "Alternating Thumb Style" commonly called "Travis Picking" in the guitar world and "Scruggs Style" in the banjo world. The focus of this series is on the classical (pima) style.
Guitar (applies to `Ukulele also) Fingering and Creativity • Updated: Jan 8, 2016
This is a guest lesson/article by internationally renowned jazz guitarist and educator Chuck Anderson. Normally, we think of fingering as a technical subject. Using a good and efficient fingering makes sense. It should make anything that you play easier and more dependable.
Essential `Ukulele Strums - A Guide to `Ukulele Strums • Updated: Feb 24, 2016
One of the first skills a ukulele player learns is the art and craft of strumming, playing rhythm. This refers to an accompaniment technique suitable for the singer - songwriter or someone who plays a support role for another instrument.
Strumming requires a specific set of skills. They are 1) Memorization of chords 2) The ability to switch chords smoothly and 3) The ability to choose and execute a suitable rhythmic strum. It is this 3rd skill that is our focus of this “A Guide to Ukulele Strums” lesson.
Though strumming looks natural to the casual observer, it’s anything but natural to the beginning ukulele player. Even experienced players have difficulty in identifying and executing certain strums. Though this is one of those topics that is typically taken for granted, there is much to learn about rhythmic feels, accents, dynamics, strum direction, feel, percussive accents, idiomatic styles and tempo variation.
Technique • Updated: Apr 5, 2019
Technique is the manner and degree to which one employs the technical skills of an endeavor.
For ukulele or any instrument the use of the hands, It's the motor skills and the efficient application of the motor skills for the specific tasks that are need and required.
First `Ukulele Lesson • Updated: Sep 22, 2016
This is a scan of a typical first lesson that ALL students new to the ukulele might get in one of my private one-on-one lessons. View the full lesson for my notes and my comments on what doesn't make it on every the sheet. There's a lot of that goes on in an individual private lesson and is different from student to student.
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