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Beating the Beginner Blues

Growing up, my theater teacher told us every rehearsal, "practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect". When you first start playing guitar, it can be tough to overcome finger and wrist pain as you develop hand strength and dexterity. As you deal with pain and fatigue, you can develop poor posture and technique, which greatly hinders your long term growth as a musician. Here are a few simple things you can do to be proactive about the beginner blues so that you can get the most out of your practice time.

Warm up (whole body)

Playing guitar utilizes muscles in your arms, back, core, and hands. Start your practice time after a run or workout and stretch your back, arms, and core before picking up your instrument. The increased blood flow greatly reduces fatigue.

Drop your elbow (fretting hand)

When starting out it's easy to push too hard on the strings with your fretting hand. If you have proper hand position with your thumb on the back of the neck and your fingers parallel to your thumb, one easy way to reduce fatigue is to slightly raise your guitar neck towards yourself and drop your elbow a bit. This allows your arm to act as a counterweight relieving some stress on your wrist and fingers.

Follow through (strumming hand)

Strumming is a complex movement and if you lock your elbow while strumming your wrist can get tired quickly.. Try lowering your guitar strap a bit and following through with your whole arm as you strum. It's ok to over-exaggerate the movement at first and look a little silly to get used to it, but a subtle follow through can greatly reduce wrist strain.

Rest (fingers)

When you are really engaged in learning a song as a beginner, it'