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This month’s lesson was going to be a fragments from several of Paganini’s 24 Caprices. However, I received a bit of mail last month asking me to expound on a few ideas for breaking out of ruts, and a bit of other advice.

One reader (Bob from Florida) wanted to know if I could elaborate on octave displacement (which we talked about in "Insanity #2 (Magic with Melody Fragments"). Well, Bob, rather than just moving the melody around in different octaves, try getting REALLY radical: Displace the individual notes of a lick or scale. This is bound to shake things up for you.

before:

after:

more radical:

The same treatment given to the C major scale:

I also received a letter from "John Doe from parts unknown" (be sure to include your name and general location when you write, folks!!!) asking about other ideas for breaking out of ruts. One suggestion is using limits. Limit yourself to a single idea or technique and see where it takes you. For example, try soloing exclusively on one or two strings. Another suggestion is using percussion patterns (paradiddles or latin grooves or what-have-you) as picking patterns. I’ll expound on this idea in a future article, but play around with it a bit and see where it you go.

Finally, Rob from Louisville writes to ask about injuries to the hands and wrists. Well, Rob – I’m no doctor, but having had my share of injuries from boxing and skateboarding and other physical endeavors, I have a few helpful hints that might work for you and other readers as well as they worked for me.

1) Pull-ups. Doing a few sets of pull-ups or chin-ups is a fantastic exercise for hands and wrists (as well as arms and shoulders) which builds strength and increases flexibility.

2) Push-ups. Not as crucial as pull-ups, but still an excellent exercise – and chicks dig the results!!!

3) Squeezes. Squeezing putty or a hand exerciser doesn’t do much for flexibility, but it focuses on strength development in the hands and it’s a great warm-up before playing, too.

4) Stretching. Make sure your hands are warmed up before stretching them. Then stretch wrists and hands and fingers.

Let me know if this works for you, Rob (and other IG readers).

A final note: I’ll be doing a series of guitar clinics and workshops in the next few months (starting in September). If you’re interested in one in your area, drop me a line and we can discuss it.

See ya next time!

David
M. McLean
is the proprietor of
Skinny Devil Music Labs, former
guitarist of the avant-garde fusion-metal band
Aurora-Sen, guitar
instructor, and columnist for TinFoil
Music Magazine
(where he conducts interviews in the on-going series
“Guitar Gods”). His new solo album, “HUNGER”,
will be released later this year.

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