Left Hand Permutations Part 2
When practicing combinations moving vertically (i.e. from 6th string to 1st) I’m concentrating on the fingers being curved in a ‘press’ position from the knuckle joint. I want to try to maintain the curve of the fingers through the flexibility of the wrist as the fingers move across the strings. If the thumb is well-placed the curvature on the fingers should not be very different on the first string compared to the sixth string. It is important to try to avoid locking the fingers out because this will tire them and restrict their mobility.
When practicing lateral combinations (i.e. up or down the frets), I’m concentrating on maintaining similar positions of fingers to frets and hand position by extending the elbow towards the first fret.
The benefit of practicing the different permutations may not seem obvious; they are, after all, rather similar. It is clear, however, when observing intermediate players that there is a real difference between the strengths and independence of different fingers and this becomes particularly apparent when the ‘leading finger’ is 3 or 4. For example, the vertical movement of combination 3,4,1,2 is much harder than 1,2,4,3 because the ‘lead’ finger (taking the lead for the hand as the fingers cross the strings) is 3. This has consequences for speed and accuracy, so it is important to keep speeds realistic and build them up, practicing different permutations at different speeds initially until the hand starts to perform them more evenly.
The main benefits are coordination of the hands, speed and stamina.
I would suggest keeping a practice diary to record metronome speeds. A metronome is absolutely essential, as essential as a stop watch to the athlete.
More advanced players can take practice above the twelfth fret and try moving the permutation units across lattices of frets. For example, move vertical permutations up then down the fingerboard by 1, then 2, then 3 frets or by combining vertical and horizontal movement by moving by one string and one or more frets.