Fundamentals of fingerstyle: “Renaissance Faire”, a study in plucked chords

April 6, 2015

“Renaissance Faire” is a study in plucked chords, using the thumb and two fingers to sound three notes together. The goal is to get all three notes to sound evenly and clearly. Don’t overthink your hand position, just work slowly and concentrate on keeping the hand relaxed: don’t overextend the wrist, use small motions, and be aware of whether the muscles of your arm are engaged when you pluck. For the most part, a light “pinch” is enough: let the fingers contact the string and then lightly move the thumb and fingers towards each other. Remember, thumb pushes lightly down, fingers pull in towards the palm. If you find that your impulse is to pull away from the strings, remember that moving away makes it harder to come back and strike the next chord accurately. Keep the hand relaxed and your movements small. Take your time, and practice small sections at a time to master the left-hand fingerings. You might spend an entire practice session on one line, but if you can play the line smoothly at a slow tempo by the time you stop you’ve accomplished something.

Remember that practicing is about getting to know the music as much as making the motions. When you’re absolutely clear about where your hands need to go, it’s much easier to be accurate. Repeated, accurate practice at a slow tempo is the most powerful way to make this happen, and working with short sections at a time lets you fully absorb all the information you need. Take your time and make sure you set and accomplish a small goal each practice session. Over time (less time than you might think!) every element of the music becomes familiar, and after a while you’ll sit down to play and it will all be there when it wasn’t yesterday. This is the best way to practice any technique or piece of music: get to know it slowly and thoroughly, and the rest will take care of itself.

TAB and music download: Renaissance Faire

Left hand closeup

Right hand closeup


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