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Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."



« Starting with good tone | Main | It's a drag... »

October 23, 2008 | Home stretch.

Bennie was approaching his 50th birthday, and felt like it. After two incidents with irritating back injuries in the last decade, culminating with multiple trips to the Chiropractor, his recent third injury had him going to a Physical Therapist for a solution that might demand more self-direction, and put him in control of his own mending. Having earlier PT success with therapy on his knees (Bennie remained an avid long distance runner), he assumed he could duplicate the achievement on his aching back.

Through a series of prescribed isometric exercises and disciplined Yoga-like stretches, he and his therapist were able to counter the only natural debilitation age had wrought on his back, but only if the routine was done regularly, frequently, and in small doses. His therapist developed an 8-minute regimen to be performed 2-3 times a day. Granted, it wasn't always convenient to get all 3 in, if he could do them in the morning before work, and again at night before bed, he was quite successful in countering the deterioration of his core muscles (abs, lower back, side) and prevent pain caused by long hours of physical inactivity working at a computer.

Those of us who are old enough to remember the PE routines of public education in the 70's, the bouncing stretches, the jumping jacks, the quick deep knee bends, completely missed out on the improved 21st Century way of looking at muscle toning and development. Today, especially for post-adolescent exercise, we see the rigors of fast-paced thrusts purged, replaced by the more serene (let alone less destructive) Yoga and Pilates routines. What is different? For one, these are about low, practical dose (at least initially) and regularity. The best thing you can do for your body is to take it easy "pushing it," but develop strength and flexibility through disciplined and long-term frequency.

Sound a little like the philosophy of our FFcP exercises? Absolutely!

The pinky stretching the FFcP exercises demand should not be painful. Carpal Tunnel and other repetitive strain injuries today aren't limited to aging Baby Boomers, and the last thing we want to do is inflict unnecessary pain on mandolinists. Please; throw out that archaic attitude "No Pain, No Gain!"

Small doses, and often...

The best thing you can do for yourself in tackling an FFcP regimen is to do it in small doses, but regularly. Like John and his newfound back-saving routine, 8 minutes is probably enough (you might go 20 once you're comfortable), but try spacing time between, to avoid injury. If you want to go faster (and have a schedule that allows it), try doing an 8-15 minute session a couple two or three times a day.

You won't feel the benefits immediately, but in 6-8 weeks, you'll be amazed what you can do with your 3rd and 4th finger, let alone the improved fretboard familiarity.

Do them slowly, in small doses, and often.

Read the Introduction to FFcP (also repeated in the Mandolin Cafe Lessons)
Survey more advanced FFcP lessons.


Note, the core of the book "Getting Into Jazz Mandolin" is based on the FFcP strategy.

Posted by Ted at October 23, 2008 11:35 AM


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