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Can You Combine Classical Guitar Drills For Maximum Benefit?

guitar technique Mar 20, 2023

I was doing some Googling the other day about how to workout at the gym more efficiently. I came across the term "compound exercises" where, for example, you do squats while holding dumbbells and as you complete the squat motion you raise the dumbbells for a shoulder press.

Immediately I thought of the combination exercises I've had my classical guitar students do for years. Any time you can combine two or more technique ideas together, we're going to get more bang for our buck (but of course there are times when we do need to focus deeply one one particular motion), and make more progress in less time.

Let's do this with two of the most important and impactful drills we have: the double arpeggio and the 4-finger exercise:.

First, we have this p-i-m-a-m-i arpeggio (be sure to be planting):

The above arpeggio exercise itself is a combination of the forward arpeggio and reverse arpeggio and therefore is a great daily motion to make with the right hand.

Second, we have what I call the "4-finger exercise" – this is an essential synchronization exercise between the right and left hands, and one that any guitarist of any style (not just classical guitar and fingerstyle players) should play regularly. In the below example, we can use our thumb when ascending the scale (traveling towards the floor), and index and middle fingers as you return:

As I demonstrate in the above video, we can combine these two together, and do them simultaneously, however, the forefinger exercise will now be reduced to only the bass strings, ascending and descending, but we still get the practice of synchronization, that we need in both hands. Because our i, m and a fingers are occupied with the arpeggio, we have to use our thumb for the entire 4-finger exercise motion:

This is just one of many examples I could come up with of ways to combine exercises. Furthermore, I also like to combine music theory exercises with technique drills. For example, running through all of the different arpeggio shapes for a given chord while using a a specific fingerstyle or classical guitar technique like tremolo, rasgueo, etc.. 

Are there any exercises that you know that you can combine together to get more exercise in less time?  

For more in-depth help with essential exercises like this and a lot more, check out my Ultimate Nylon String Guitar Guide, available as a stand-alone course or as part of my monthly membership.  






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