On Practice: The Left Hand
By Daniel Roest

The left hand has an appointment: be at a certain place at a certain time. Before continuing this mini-lesson, be sure to read The Hierarchy of Left Hand Technique for tips on wrist and arm position. With that in mind, as well as technique based on relaxation, legato scales, and the best sitting position, here are a few pointers for left hand success:
·Keep a balanced left hand position as you move along in the music. The changes from moment to moment. For example, the open position B7 chord is easier on the left hand and more likely to sound good with the left elbow raised out away from your side. Conversely, an open G7 chord is easier with the elbow down at your side.
·"Balanced" means the load is spread out as evenly as possible. Keep the left hand thumb in the best position each moment, without excess pressure, changing up, down, left or right as appropriate to what's optimal for that moment.
·Keep each left hand finger as close to (but not on top of) the fret as possible for the least effort to produce a clear note.
·Learn how to mute strings with the left hand only, the right hand only, and both hands together. The right hand calls the shots, rhythmically speaking. It's up to the left hand to be there on time. This said, there's no substitute for seeing a good guitarist's excellent left hand work for instruction and inspiration. See as many professional players as you can.
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