The Complete Guitarist: Finger Twisters — Fingerpicking Exercises

by Richard Rossicone
Posted Feb 3, 2014 at 11:25am

Hello again to all my faithful readers out there in guitar land!

In this installment of my column, I'd like to expand upon the last two parts (See RELATED CONTENT to the left — below my photo) and write about a great fingerpicking finger twister I use as a warmup for classical guitar gigs.

In previous columns, I've discussed right-hand fingerpicking patterns. This column will work on coordinating left- and right-hand patterns.

In case you're new to fingerpicking, the right hand has letter names. The thumb is p, the index finger is i, the middle finger is m and the ring finger is a.

But the difference in this exercise is we will associate the left-hand fingers with the right-hand letters. The first finger of the left hand will always be played with p. The second finger of the left hand will be played with the I. The third finger of the left hand will be played with the m, and the fourth finger of the left hand will be played with the a.

Place the first finger in the left hand on the first fret of the sixth string, the second finger of the left hand on the second fret of the fifth string, the third finger of the left hand on the third fret of the fourth string and the fourth fret of the third string.

Your left hand will spell out the notes F, B, F and B respectively. Now play the right-hand pima pattern. Now move the left-hand chord over one string and place your first finger on your left hand on the first fret of the fifth string, the second finger of the left hand on the second fret of the fourth string, the third finger of the left hand on the third fret of the third string and the fourth finger of the left hand on the fourth fret of the second string.

Your left hand will now spell out the notes A#, E, A# and D# respectively. Play the right-hand pima pattern again. Now move your left hand over one more string and place your first finger of your left hand on the first fret of the fourth string, your second finger of your left hand on the second fret of the third string, your third finger of your left hand on the third fret of the second string and your fourth finger on the fourth fret on the first string. Your left hand will now spell out the notes D#, A, D and G# respectively. Play the right-hand pima pattern once again.

The left-hand finger placements will be the same through this entire exercise. Exercise 1 is the pima pattern. Exercise 2 is the pami pattern and Exercise 3 is the pmia pattern. The most challenging part of this finger twister is keeping the coordination between the right and left hands accurate. To make it even more of a challenge, don't place the left hand down as a chord. Play the notes individually with the right-hand patterns.

Exercise 1

example 1.png

Exercise 2

example 2.png

Exercise 3

example 3.png

Now get out there and pick up that guitar and play just like yesterday. Let's get to it. As always, I thank you for checking out my column. Any comments or observations are always welcome.

Guitarist Richard Rossicone is a veteran of the New York City and Long Island original and cover band scene. He's been playing since he was 8, when he attended his first concert (Kiss) and saw Pete Townshend smash a guitar. He has studied with various instructors over the years, which led him to a career in music therapy. He began his educational journey at Queensboro Community College, where the faculty introducing him to classical music. He received his associate's degree in fine arts in 1997 and went on to receive his bachelor's in music therapy in 2001 and his master's in music therapy from New York University in 2004. He's been Board Certified as a music therapist since 2002. Richard continued his studies at C.W. Post University, pursuing a second master's degree in classical guitar performance and music history, studying under Harris Becker. He's been teaching guitar, piano and theory since 2002 and in 2006 started his own company, Rossicone Music Studios. Visit him at Axgrinder.com and his Complete Guitarist Facebook page. Check out Richard's new book, 'The Complete Guitarist Handbook: Vol. 1,' which is available at Amazon.com.