Mastering Scales, Part 2: Extensor Training

Mastering Scales, Part 2: Extensor Training

There are infinite ways to develop more speed, accuracy, and fluidity in your scale practice. Using rhythmic manipulation, extensor training, patterns, repeated notes, fragments, and phrasing are favorite devices. They will all explained in the next several posts. Once you are familiar with the various techniques, apply them to scales (or even troublesome spots) in your repertoire to either problem solve or build a stronger foundation.

Throughout the following series of posts use the following fingerings (basic patterns in bold) focus on efficient and relaxed alternation, tone, consistency, and rhythmic pulse. More advanced students could expand them with articulations such as staccato and legato, dynamics, and tempo. Practice the material between repeats more than twice when necessary.

Rest-stroke fingerings: im, mi, ma, am, ia, ai, p, ami, ima, imam, amim, aimi

Free-stroke fingerings: im, mi, ma, am, ia, ai, pi, pm, pa, ami, ima, imam, amim, aimi, pmi, pami

Though rasgueado movements work the extensors extensively, the right-hand benefits from specific or single-note extensor movement training. There are two ways to perform an extensor stroke with the fingers. The first way is a bit more active: place the fingernail behind the string and then flicking the string with energy away from the guitar. Imagine the string is a marble and you are flicking that marble ahead in front of the guitar. The other method is a bit more specific: place the nail above the string and push down towards the next string and then land on it. For example, if you were going to play an extensor stroke on string 3, your nail would move through string 3 with a firm tip joint and land on string 2. Think of a reverse free-stroke that actually lands on the adjacent string.

For an extensor stroke with p place thumb under or below the string and then actively flick upwards (opposite direction of the usual stroke). Landing on the adjacent string in this case is not imperative. Flamenco guitarists would refer to the movement as alzapua (translated as thumbnail-raise or pick-raise). Think of an extensor stroke with p as a single string alzapua.

 For scale sources and further study: Mastering Diatonic Scales.

Practice the extensor strokes below with i, m, a, and p.

Scale 3 extensor i fingering.jpg

Scale 3 extensor m fingering.jpg

Scale 3 extensor a fingering.jpg

Scale 3 extensor p.jpg

Practice the extensor strokes below with im, am, and ai.

Scale 3 extensor im.jpg

Scale 3 extensor ma.jpg

Scale 3 extensor ia.jpg

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