GPS And The Engine (and a free Video Lesson)

Welcome to this edition of the Fingerstyle Report. This issue I'd like to explain how I look at the different functions of the right and left hands.

There's an old adage that says "the left hand is what you know, the right hand is who you are". There's a lot of truth to that but it's a little bit of a simplification.

The left hand is the main tool in expressing a musical idea. That's where the melody, harmony and bass lines are coming from. But without the right hand, those ideas can't be expressed. Ironically the right hand, which is the motor that drives the "fingerpicking car", is often overlooked. Scales, modes and chords, the GPS, are often deemed more important. They're sexier.

In truth, developing the right hand is easier than learning a bunch of music theory. It's also easier than memorizing a piece of music. Why? Because the right hands role in fingerstyle guitar is primarily muscle memory.

If you're not happy with your right hand control, I suggest working on the Lessons 1-12 on the Beginner Guitar Lesson page at I know that these lessons will help if they're included in your practice schedule.

I don't mean to be preachy or bossy. But, simply put, you need both the "GPS" (the left hand) and the "Motor" (the right hand) for your playing to take off.

That brings me to this issues video lesson. We're going to take the idea that was shown in the February issue and expand on it. To refresh your memory, in February we looked at a lick combining open and fretted strings. This lesson shows how to apply those strings to a song.

The song that we'll be applying this to is Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me by Mississippi John Hurt. The arrangement I'm showing here will be on my soon-to-be recorded debut CD.

What we're doing is taking a chord based lick and playing it as an arpeggio. It includes open and fretted notes. The beauty of this approach is that the sustaining quality that the open strings offer lets you shift hand positions without sounding choppy.

I suggest that you use your thumb and first finger or your thumb and second finger to play the lick. Here's a link to the lesson.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

See you next issue!

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