classical guitar stretch strength dexterity exercise

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Opposing Movement Stretches, for Strength and Independence

This is a left hand stretching, independence and dexterity exercise.  It’s long been a favorite of mine to recommend to cocky students who think they’re hot stuff.

But really, it is a wonderful way to improve the range of motion and finger independence of the left hand.

Here’s the Stretch and Dexterity Exercise:

  1. Start with all four fingers on four consecutive frets anywhere on the third string.
  2. Shift one finger to each of the other strings in turn (leaving the other three fingers on the third string on their individual frets, and allowing the hand and wrist to remain still.  In other words, move the finger, not the hand.). 
  3. Repeat with each finger in turn, always returning to the third string, and always keeping the others in place.
  4. –All this has been a warm-up, now for the real nitty-gritty:
  5. Starting with all fingers in place (as above), allow one finger to move up a string, while the adjacent finger moves down a string.
  6. Then, with these same two fingers, reverse their positions, so that they trade places (though remaining on their respective frets)
  7. Continue back and forth a few times, increasing the distance by moving to the fifth and sixth strings.
  8. Repeat with all possible finger combinations:
  • 1,2
  • 2,3
  • 3,4
  • 1,3
  • 2,4
  • 1,4

Warm up before this!

As with any exercise, be careful not to over-do it, and make sure you are warmed up before jumping in.

You may benefit from holding your hands under or in some hot water to loosen up before playing (in my mind the quickest, easiest, and most enjoyable warm-up!)


That’s it!  Have fun!

allen mathews classical guitar

About Allen Mathews

Allen Mathews learned guitar as an adult, and has been a full-time guitar teacher for almost two decades to students age 4 to 96.  He has taught classical guitar at Reed College and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has been a guest lecturer and clinician at schools and universities throughout the U.S.  Allen is often praised for his creative teaching abilities, and his dedication to helping adults learn classical guitar.  He has a popular Youtube Channel offering regular classical guitar tutorials, and has gained fans worldwide for his weekly emails and articles at

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