Left Hand issues.

I'm a beginner -> intermediate guiatarist and I've been playing and taking lessons for almost 3 years.  Repetoire includes Sor, Lobos (Etude1) , Tarrega etc (I'm just okay with those) .  I currently have an issue with my fingers staying close to the fret board while performing scales, sting crossings etc.  It seems I have problems keeping index from popping up while engaging 2,3,4 and while engaging 1,2,3 keeping my pinky close to the fret board.  I'm just wondering if anyone else has had this problem or if there are any tips and techniques out there to help in warm up and practice sessions.

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  • Hello there! I have around 30 years of guitar experience. I had those "fingers popping up" when playing scales. The most consequential L.H exercises for me were preliminary exercises way before the scales: walking 1-2 very slowly trying to inhibit the movements of the other fingers; like /switching finger mov. off/ so to speak. Do ALL pair combinations. Later on, I found Scott Tennant's left hand walking very very helpful (pressing 1 on a middle fret [he suggests 1st fret, but it is better in a middle IMHO] from 6th to 1st Bach to 6th) but I did like 4 levels of those: level 1: finger just touches string without pressing, very little finger hopping from STR to STR. Level 2: pressing but no contact or the STR to the fret, reduced finger hopping and being alert of the other fingers not reacting. Level 3: making buzzing sounds. Use minimal force. Same conditions from level 2. Level 4: normal sound. Keeping into account that it just needs only a tiny bit more force that the one used in level 3 (buzzing) 

    These exercises should be done like in a yoga fashion. They are cumbersome, but will create awareness on the needed independence. In about 6 months of 2h of just these, you will have become better! Best of luck... Feel free to ask more questions if needed

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    • Sergio Rodr铆guez This makes sense.  I did what you said and noticed my fourth finger popping up when placing too much tension on one or two.  It takes me real effort to stop that from happening.  Thanks!

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  • When this involuntary popping up happens, do you notice that you have unsually high levels of tension in the muscles on the back of your hand?  If so, I suspect you're running into an issue of trying to force velocity in the finger movements without yet having the reflexes in places to do this and maintain what Charles Duncan calls "functional tension".  Sergio Rodriguez' advice for developing finger independence is all stuff I'll second, and I've used many of the same exercises, myself (also from Scott Tenant's book).  The other book I highly recommend (pretty much to every guitarist I know) is Charles Duncan's Art of Classical Guitar Playing.  He has some really good insights into the mechanics of functional/dysfunctional tension, preparation, and finger independence.  I haven't had a teacher in 21 years, but I've found that I'm able to get something new out of that book every time I sit down with it.

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    • John Lasseter I do notice after a while of playing the top of my forearm is a bit sore.  My hand does get a bit sore as well.  Thanks for the insight.  I do have Scott's book and work on the left hand exercises.  I think I probably need to do them slower and not try to blow through them as fast as I have been.

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  • 62 years practice here: Try practicing in front of a mirror. Do it slowly. Then you can see your fingers popping up and consciously try to relax them so they don't pop up. A mirror gives a much better view than looking over the neck.

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  • Hello Paul, judging from what you're saying we are more or less at the same level of guitar playing. I recognize the issue with the left hand. One of the resources on Tonebase that I found useful is a former livestream with Ashley Lucero, called 'Finger Independence via Contrapuntal Bach'. It is not that I am already into 'contrapuntal Bach' at my current level, but Ashley does demonstrate very clearly some right hand and left hand exercises. The latter you will find starting at 1:14:22 into the livestream. 

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