Agh! My hand doesn't bend that way!

050914_006_2In my banjo studies, I've now reached the point of learning more elaborate left hand techniques. The first of these is the slide, which involves starting with your finger on one fret, striking a note, and, while the string is still vibrating, quickly sliding your fretting finger down the string to a new fret, thereby sort of creating two notes with one pluck. It makes sort of a weird sound, and I'm not quite sure how it fits well into music, but I'm sure it does, and who am I to doubt Jack Hatfield?

In any case, I'm fine with sliding my middle finger from the second to the third fret. I have some trouble sliding from the second to the fourth fret. I absolutely cannot slide from the second to the fifth fret, the maneuver demonstrated in the attached before-and-after photo. As you can see, the player's left hand is initially positioned in a pretty normal, comfortable playing position. After the slide, she has contorted her hand into the Vulcan Claw of Death. There wouldn't be a problem except the book says you're supposed to keep your hand anchored in its initial position and only move the middle finger. I tend to treat such strictures like the strictures in typing manuals; it's perfectly easy to ignore them, but if you do you're not training your hand properly and you're only cheating yourself.

My frustration is compounded by the explanatory text, which claims "If you have proper left hand position, it should be possible to perform all the slides in this book without moving your thumb. If you are an adult or older child you should be able to slide all the way to the fifth fret with your middle finger without ever moving your left thumb." It's so easy even an older child can do it!

So I spent my bored moments today trying to make the Death Claw, with an emphasis on stretching my middle finger as far as possible while bent. This earned me some odd looks from students sitting next to me in Civil Procedure and Torts.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on September 14, 2005 6:34 PM.

The Infernal Machine was the previous entry in this blog.

I don't think I'm mature enough to play the banjo is the next entry in this blog.

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