Picking Exercises From "Gypsy Picking"

edited May 2013 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 5
Hi, I am sorry if this question sounds a little silly.
I have recently acquired the Gypsy Picking book from this website and am starting on the road to learning Gypsy Jazz, at last.
However I just want to make sure I am going in the right direction.
I have been working on "picking pattern 1" for about a week now, as I want to make sure I have the basics of the playing down first.
I have accepted that although I am a pretty good guitar player I know little or nothing about this style. So I am following the book rigidly until I get the basics, at least.
Am I right in just taking one exercise at a time until I have it playable at most tempos, or should I at least practice two exercises at a time?


  • There are differing opinions but I beleive that mastering a few things before moving on is best. If all you are working on is this picking then a few exercises at he same time is fine imo.

    If you have other stuff in the shed too keep it simple particularly at first.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Agreed.

    Starting this past fall, I made a conscious effort (with a teacher) to focus on exercises like these to establish correct habits. Mind you, I've been a few years deep and had a general sense of what needed to be done. But in the three years, I realized that I was certainly executing. Focused practice like Michael's exercises in Gypsy Picking are well worth spending some time on. Not to say that I've mastered this picking...I have a long way to go.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,124
    I don't think you need to completely master one picking pattern before moving onto the next one. Realistically, you won't really master some of them untill you've been working on them for six months or more. I think it's a good idea to work on many of them at once, just as long as you're consistent and don't stop practicing some of the earlier ones untill you can execute them flawlessly. Maybe spend 5-10 minutes on each pattern per day, starting slowly with a metronome and gradually increasing the speed untill you can't play the pattern cleanly.

    Good luck!

  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,834
    I've been working on learning "I'll See You in My Dreams" and it has shown me that I need to go back for a gypsy picking refresher.

    My problem may be a familiar one: keeping up with fast tempos playing descending arpeggios and not violating the "new string = new downstroke" rule. So I'm practising that skill all over again.

    I'm lefthanded, so I don't know if that may be part of my problem?

    In addition to practising, if anybody is aware of any physical exercises that would strengthen my RH strength and coordination which I could do when I'm not playing my guitar, I would love to know about them.

    I keep a five-pound barbell in my car and sometimes while I'm driving I practise my "rest stroke" with that weight in my RH. This was my own idea and I can't honestly say I've noticed any improvement, but I just don't know what else I can do... any ideas?


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  • hanear21hanear21
    Posts: 62
    I'm not sure using a weight is a good idea for improving your picking. It's not really the same kind of strength you are looking for I think. Lifting weights requires tension where picking actually is hindered by tension. I do not have any advice about what you SHOULD do, but I can't imagine using a weight will help and might even hinder your picking ability.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,314
    Driving and lifting weights at the same time??? Hopefully only when you are stuck at a long signal.

    Not that I know since I can't play very fast but I would think that building up your muscles might actually slow you down by creating too much tension?

    I think the best exercise would be to drill transcriptions, specific licks and phrases, or valses and try to slowly increase tempo.
  • HemertHemert Prodigy
    Posts: 264
    Since you're a member of RA there's a metronome drill there to get you up to speed. Should take you about three to four months of daily practice to get those descending arps down.

    Go to the "Bossa Dorado" section of the forum and find a topic called "fast E7 lick meas. 29". In that thread you'll find a post by me spelling the drill out exactly. I'm sure you'll get there, just patience, dedication, a metronome and accepting a lot of frustration along the way.

    Whatever you do, don't practice with weights to train your picking hand. It will only slow you down!
  • I would think that using weights would actually slow one down.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Christian's suggestion is good. Also, you could incorporate some waltzes into your routine. I'm not speedy by any stretch of the imagination, but they've really helped my right hand get on track.
    The B section in MSG is particularly killer and has taken me some time to get to a moderate speed. With my daily practice session of about 1.5-2 hours a day, I work on a waltz for about 20-30 minutes a day.
  • chimorhchimorh
    Posts: 20
    Having been tortured exquisitely by this music for over 55 years and having only made real progress with it when I discovered this site some years ago I can say that if you really, really want to be able to play it with the desperation that I did:

    1. Concentrate on "gypsy picking" for an hour a day. I am reassured that Michael says it takes 6 months. It took me all of that time but all of a sudden my fingers and brain gave in and that's all I can do now despite having spent 40 years alternate picking!....Now, suddenly you're getting that sound.

    2. Know that you can get there! Don't let that little voice in your brain say things like "You're not a gypsy you just can't get it". Christiaan Hemert describes somewhere how one of his student acquired real skill through prolonged diligence without having any apparent natural talent initially. That really helped me!

    3. Work through the 2 "Astuces de la guitare Manouche". Now you know some of the basic gypsy tunes and some really good licks.

    4. Have a look at Givone's book. I spent a year really immersed in the arps but I'm not sure it was a year well spent.

    5. Join the RA really is the very best learning tool but I think you have to go through the previous steps to be able to best take advantage of it. I joined for a month ...spent every day learning "Seule ce soir" which I can actually really play now!.....he said modestly!! I downloaded all the music and I intend going through my favourite ones for a few months to prepare for rejoining it to really get them down. Yes, this has really convinced me that "licks are everything" and I'm going to learn them all.

    6. To quickly build technique and speed work on Robert Conti's "The Precision Technique" every day. This was one of Denis Chang's many educated suggestions that have helped me immensely, and as Denis also suggests, work on waltzes.

    7. Try Yaakov Hoter's Gypsy Jazz School. Same kind of formula as RA but you buy one tune at a time.

    8. Don't do any weight training!!!....hahahahaha....I didn't know you could get weights as light as 5 lbs Will!!....but then I'm European...must be an American thing!!!

    I hope this helps.
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