Group 2

Are you tired of struggling with the complexities of guitar-playing? Good news – most guitar music relies on a small number of key technical building blocks. This upcoming two-week intensive program will dive into these building blocks and offer a systematic approach to improving your foundational skills on the guitar. By breaking down the technical intricacies of guitar-playing into a handful of essential movements, we’ll be providing exclusive insights and exercises that can help you overcome the most common difficulties. With practice and dedication, these exercises can become an integral part of your regular warm-up routine, unlocking your potential to better express your musical ideas.


  • Sign-Up: March 15th
  • Course Period: March 20th - March 31st
  • Check-In via Zoom: March 23 & March 30, 10am PST

Assignment (week 1)

The video below introduces the course and presents 6 exercises aimed at developing essential 'building blocks' of guitar playing. Aim to practice each every day as part of your warmup routine for 2~4 minutes. This should result in an overall 15~30 min practice block.


The exercises presented are:

exercise 1a - apoyando/tirando alternation of single fingers (i-i-i... m-m-m... a-a-a...)

exercise 1b - tirando alternation of small groups (m-i, i-m, a-m, m-a, a-i, i-a)

exercise 2 - apoyando alternation across first three strings

exercise 3 - 'quasi' slurs

exercise 4 - chromatic scales

exercise 5 - shifting

exercise 6 - extensions


If you aren't able to consistently complete all exercises or if it takes too long, select whichever you think will be the most beneficial ones for you (e.g. 1-4). Remember that it is better to practise shorter but regularly than to practice longer but less frequently. Keep track of your practice! This will allow you to later asses how useful a change to your practice routine has been.


Assignment // Week 1


Assignment // Week 2


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  • Zoom Check-in Session No. 1 // recording

    Thursday 23rd March

  • Hi everyone, here's week 2:

    A (slightly) shorter video than last week:) Happy practising! (yes, it's with an 's' in UK).

    See you on Thursday, E

    Like 1
    • Emmanuel thank you Emmanuel for the week 2 exercises. I am working on them, especially the combinations involving the circle p-m-a-m and the p-a-m-a and their rotations of accented finger inside those circle. Between those two, the p-a-m-a and their rotations give me the most difficulty. So I will focus on those 2 combinations, especially on the p-a-m-a and its rotations. 

      Like 1
    • Khiem Nguyen Great to hear about you working on these and already having spotted the trickier combinations for you. I, too, find p-a-m-a  little tricker than the others... probably to do with the higher frequency we use the a finger in that combination, so definitely a good one to give some extra attention to together with its different permutations. A is perhaps not quite as smart as m and i, so I like to focus on the precision of the movement, especially not overshooting too far beyond the first string as it reaches out every time it has to play. Happy practising!

      All best, E

  • Zoom Check-in Session No. 2 // recording

    Thursday 30th March

  • Hello everyone, hello Emmanuel,
    Very interesting approach that goes to the essential rather than chaining technical exercises without thinking about them completely.
    I realize how difficult it is to do the second one correctly with my 4 even for a good intermediate level.
    5 minutes on each for this week!
    Thank you.

    Like 1
    • Hello GALAIS Olivier ! You're very welcome! It's great to have you here. There was a time I spent 90 minutes on MANY different exercises which would leave me very tired and with very little time to learn my pieces. Though there is a benefit to practising many, many different movements, I think practising a smaller 'core' group of movements *regularly* has had a far greater impact on my playing.

      Is the difficulty you mention with finger 4 related to exercise 3? If so, I can relate! Even to this day, I continue to refine the positioning of my L.H. fingers with exercise 3 (especially my fingers 3 and 4) – I love it!

      Exercise 2 you mentioned is only R.H., so hopefully, finger 4 should be resting during that one:)

      Best of luck. I look forward to seeing your progress!

  • Hi! Looking forward to this two week intensive 

    Like 1
    • Hello Jerry ! I look forward to seeing you all on Thursday. Best of luck!

  • Hi Emmanuel is good to cover the basic exercises without getting overwhelmed. Thank you so much 

    Like 1
    • Hi Rene , glad to hear! I hope you will enjoy including these in your warm-up routine. See you soon!

    • cevinius
    • cevinius
    • 1 yr ago
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    Hi everyone!

    I'm very excited to be a part of this. I'm still a beginner, so building blocks sounds perfect for me.

    Like 1
    • cevinius Great to have you! I hope the exercises will help as you begin your journey with the guitar. See you soon!

  • Hi Emmanuel, thanks for these useful exercises!


    I have a question about the slur exercise. For the descending slurs, if we are lifting the finger perpendicular, what is effecting slur? Is it the weight transfer to the lower finger? If so, should the lower finger start on or off the string?


    Thank you!

    Like 1
    • Hi Jaime Fernandez , my pleasure!

      Good question – when preparing to play a descending slur (let's say 2-1) the lower finger (1) should be prepared on the string as a 'passive' finger, with almost no pressure (I describe it as ~5% in the video). When taking the weight of the 'active' finger (2) off and onto the passive finger (1), we might hear a very faint slur... this is good. We are not aiming to produce a strong slur, but a clear, simple, and direct movement of the left-hand fingers.

      One situation where the lower finger cannot be prepared before starting the slur is when you move across strings – here the upper finger (in our example, 2) will have to play on the new string first and the lower finger (1) will then join as soon as possible before the release fo the upper finger.

      If unclear, feel free to ask about it during the Zoom call on Thursday:)

      Happy practising!

      Like 1
    • Emmanuel that makes perfect sense. Thanks again!

      Like 1
    • Jaime You're very welcome!:)

  • Check-In Session // ZOOM LINK

    Thursday 23 March, 2023
    5 PM  London  🇬🇧
    10 AM  Pacific Time 🇺🇸

    Join Zoom Meeting

    Meeting ID: 864 1603 9992
    Passcode: 254130

    Like 2
  • Emmanuel  Thank you for hosting this valuable TWI. There is a lot of brain work involved for me to learn exercises with new patterns of LH finger movements such as for exercises 3 and 4.


    I am hoping that in week two you will discuss chord shifting. I have used exercise 5 for several years and it is helpful when moving a single note. However, my technique sometimes falls apart when it is a chord (such as in measures 11-12 of Adelita or the first section of Frog Galliard as presented on Tonebase my Scott Tennant). 

    Like 1
    • Welcome, Martha ! You reminded me of the famous Liszt quote: "think 10 times, play once". It is definitely a good thing to feel your brain engaging actively with the exercises as most of the benefit is really found in the awareness we have while practising the exercises rather than the mere physical repetition.

      With chord shifting, it is often the case that we can find at least one guide finger to assist us with the shift (often on a treble string which won't squeak).

      Afraid I'm not very familiar with Frog Galliard off the top of my head, but re Adelita: I suspect the issue might be mainly between b. 11, third beat, and the following bar – a common pitfall. The issue is that the last note of bar 11 is fingered with the barré, which needs to be lifted to go down without excess friction to the next barré. This is technically a jump for which we have little time and which hinders the legato and technical ease. There is a simple fix for that: play the last note of bar 11 with your third finger, thus anticipating both the position as well as the following note in the melody. This sacrifices the duration of the accompaniment notes (F# and E), but it is for a good cause! – to preserve the integrity of the melody and assist in creating a far more natural shift. Score attached. Hope it helps:)

  • Emmanuel

    Your recommendation makes all the difference in the shift! Thank you for taking the time to share such a complete response.  It really helps.

    Like 1
    • Martha No problem – so glad it was helpful!

  • Hello Emmanuel and fellows!

    My left hand is not very good. These slurs and shifting exercises will fit very well for me.

    Like 1
    • Hello Guilherme Adame ! Welcome to the course. It's great to have you. At almost any level, we can usually find something to improve in our basic movements. I'm glad some of the exercises will help you tackle some of the movements you find tricky.

      Happy practising and hope to see you tomorrow!

  • Hello Emmanuel
    Just a video of exercise 1 (i and m ) to ask an important question for me.

    It's hard not to move your hand...
    I have two (bad?) habits: put my thumb on the string just above and have a very "horizontal" attack (and not perpendicular to the string). The sound can be sometimes "too" round.
    Should I correct this position to facilitate both attacks and if so how?
    Thanks a lot.

    Like 1
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