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"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."

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September 9, 2005 | Stretching

Playing mandolin is just like any other athletic activity. Like tennis, golf, running, it's about the calculated discipline of muscle development. The issue of warming up or stretching is just as relevant to the fretboard as it is to the basketball court.

Smaller muscles take a different approach than larger group (thigh, shoulder, and pectorals), bearing a different kind of liability. Fingers and wrists aren't as apt to sprain or pull, but they are certainly prone to cramping, stress, or worse, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Us "Old Farts" have to really watch it, but you're never too young to start thinking about proper stretching or instrument acclimation. Attention here is critical long term, but quite beneficial short term, as well.

Not to dismiss them completely, but JazzMando staff is not terribly excited about those hand exercise gadgets or gimmicks. There is no substitute for good isometrics or better, just using the fretboard in slow scales and arpeggios.

We recommend a good discipline of 10-15 minutes of FFcP fretboard work at a moderately slow tempo, concentrating on precision and tone BEFORE jumping into any literature or other exercises. Play each finger position, starting on the "G" string, and follow up the same starting on the D course. Mix it up and start in different fret positions each day, so that over several weeks, you will have done this all up and down the fretboard.

Just 15 minutes; this small investment of time will pay you back many times over in control, dexterity, and accuracy!

Posted by Ted at September 9, 2005 11:02 AM

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