Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Strengthening your fingers

In the last article we looked at playing your first Native American flute scale. It would seem natural that at this point you would ask the question "Now what?". There are a couple things that would be good to consider. Strengthening your fingers is one of them. The other is to begin "Playing from the Heart" which is the NAF word for improvisation, or just "noodling" around on your NAF and playing whatever pops into your head. We'll look at "Playing from the Heart" later, for now let's look at a couple easy ways to strengthen your fingers.

The point of this article is to start you on the path to freeing your mind from having to think about your fingers. The less you have to concentrate on your fingers the more you can focus on playing your music, and the music's what it's all about. To do that we're going to look at some very basic things you can do to prepare your fingers to move effortlessly, allowing you to play more freely.

The Brain Connection
The first thing to keep in mind is that you don't need strong fingers in the sense of muscle strength. You don’t need to do finger pushups. What is meant by strength here is mostly improving your coordination, which is handled by the brain. So what you're really doing is training your brain and it's messages to and from your fingers.

The second thing to consider is that like anything you do, and I mean anything, the more you do it the better you get. Repetition also multiplies on itself non linearly. I like to point out to the people that attend my NAF classes that if you were to tie your shoelaces every day of your life, that by the time you were 35 years old you would have tied them 12,775 times! Odds are you've gotten pretty good at it. The exercises below work the same way.

    TIP: Practice makes better

Before we begin let's review the set up of the NAF. Remember that each hole has a number. We will also call the finger that covers any hole by the same number. So hole #1 is covered by finger #1.
    hole numbers

Fig. 1 The finger holes of a six holed NAF

Here are some simple ideas that you can use everyday to warm up and strengthen you brain – finger connection.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:29 PM

    This is very helpful for us beginners. The hardest part of getting started can be simply not knowing the basics. Your articles have clarified what I need to do, how to proceed and what my personal goal should be. Thank you!