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Hand Anatomy & Mindset

by Rich Freeman

When you start learning how to play the guitar, it is important to be aware of the challenges you will face in the beginning. When you know what to expect, you will be able to quickly overcome any difficulties you may encounter.  This lesson is on the anatomy of your hand and the control of your mindset.

Everything with learning the guitar is about mindset, technique training & repetition. No one is any better than you, they just have learned how to control their mindset and train their hands. You will get better faster and more efficiently if you can master how to train your hands and control your mindset. The truth is your mindset will prevent you from learning guitar far more than your hands will. If you fall victim to a faulty mindset that says "This is hard, I can't do this", you need to immediately shut down that thought and tell yourself "I CAN & WILL do this!".

Steps To Train Your Hand

Guitarist's Hand Anatomy

As you can see in the photo, your hand consists of muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments, arteries and nerves. All of these parts of your hand are eager to be trained to do whatever you want them to do, but they can't be overworked too hard. The truth is you need to build the muscles in your hand just like any other muscle in your body. You need to achieve 3 things when you train, 2 Hand Synchronization, Finger Independence & Muscle Memory.

  1. 2 Hand Synchronization - The ability to operate both hands in unison (at the same time). This means you should be able to pick and fret each note together at the same time. Both the fretting and picking hands must align perfectly or your playing will be sloppy and inconsistent. 
  2. Finger Independence - The ability to move any finger of it's own accord without changing or being influenced by the movement of another finger.
    1. 100% finger independence is impossible to obtain due to the connection of the tendons, arteries & ligaments in each of our fingers. Because of this, when you try to move one finger, you will notice that the fingers adjacent (next to it) will also try to move slightly.   
  3. Muscle Memory - The consolidating of a specific motor task into memory through repetition. When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for attention and creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems. 

The process of building both Finger Independence & Muscle Memory works by exhausting the muscle, letting it heal and exhausting it again. Through this process, the muscles in your hands will become stronger and thus be able to endure playing the guitar for longer periods of time. 

  1. Train your hand until the muscles become weak - Stick to a regular practice routine. It's just like joining a gym. If you buy a gym membership but never show up to work out, you won't lose any weight or grow any muscles.
  2. Allow your muscles to heal. Now since your hand muscles are so small, they heal quicker than the bigger muscles in your body. This is why you can often pick up the guitar multiple times a day and feel renewed almost every time. (In some rare cases, you may need to wait a whole day, but this is not typical).
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2. 

When you start playing the guitar, your hands lack 2 Hand Synchronization, Finger Independence & Muscle Memory; and this is the reason you may struggle to play something the first few times. This is the main challenge you will face. Repetition is how you overcome this problem.

Steps To Train Your Mindset

  1. Write out your weekly/monthly goals - We will do this together on your goal tracker.
  2. Feed your brain positive information.
    • Read & listen to motivational books, quotes & movies.
    • Listen to music. Music can alter ones mood in a matter of seconds.
  3. Surround yourself with positive people who have the same musical interests as you do and want to see you succeed. (Come to the training sessions & as many classes as you can)
  4. Start becoming conscious of negative thoughts from yourself or others around you and begin eliminating them immediately. 
  5. Be thankful you're alive & for what you have.
  6. Exercises your mind & body - Meditate/pray/Exercise/Yoga etc.
    • Being healthy determines how you feel and how much energy you will have. Take care of yourself.

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