Two Flamenco Techniques to Enhance Your Right Hand

Two Flamenco Techniques to Enhance Your Right Hand

Do you dream of being faster and more graceful with your right hand?

There is a counterintuitive shortcut to gaining more speed and sensitivity in your playing. Before we dive in, this can be implemented along with challenges such as the sweep picking challenge.

When you play pop or blues music on a steel acoustic, you mostly use your plectrum, which allows you to position the edge of your hand on the scratchplate. This gives you stability but at the same time tends to ‘spoil’ your hand as it misses an opportunity to develop flexibility, dexterity, and ultimately speed and expression range.

Freeing you hand will help you develop velocity and more confidence in your guitar playing. As a result, you can open your style to a whole new level of versatile expression, and you’ll start trying out acrobatics of the likes of Rodrigo and Gabriela.

As examples in rock and blues, guitarists like John Frusciante and Jimi Hendrix tend to have their hands very loose when they strum. As this can be a mess when applied to steel acoustic, they often use their left hand to mute strings they don’t want to sound and to avoid unwanted noises.

This ‘liberation of your hand’ will allow you to be a more versatile guitarist and tackle a wider variety of genres, so you will be a treasure of a practice buddy.

Flamenco Will Grow Wings on Your Right Hand

Whatever style you do, learning some flamenco techniques will help you develop speed and flexibility in your right hand in a way that will blow your mind.

…even if you are a plectra fundamentalist!

You will even start typing faster on your laptop (I just came to this realisation as I write this piece). But most importantly, you will be more motivated and confident in your guitar learning.

One of my clients spent 15 years playing blues and rock. He invariably played electric guitar with a plectrum. One day he bought a flamenco guitar because he wanted to learn some flamenco techniques and songs.

During his first classes, he wouldn’t lift his right pinky off the top of the guitar. He needed to work hard to remove this habit, because it helped him gain stability and play the strings he targeted.

Now that he is a confident flamenco player he tells me how learning these techniques has supercharged his rock playing, as he is now more confident with where his right hand is at any given point. This allows him to move it around upwards and downwards and calibrate the strength with which he plays.

And now his pinky is supporting his right hand as it flies, not as it sleeps on the scratchplate!

2 Flamenco Techniques You Should Learn Today

Note: It’s imperative that you practice both techniques very slowly. Once your muscles have memorized the motions involved, you can speed up. A metronome can keep your ego under control.

1. Abanico

Abanico (‘fan’ in Spanish) is one of the most characteristic techniques in flamenco. Used mostly as a closing lick, it requires your hand to be completely lifted. You simply need three strokes to do a cycle, and you typically use one cycle per black note.

This technique can be used with different fingers. Here is a common cycle:

  • Thumb up – lift your whole wrist
  • Ring down – your index finger is still lifted and your wrist goes half-way down
  • Index down – the whole of your wrist goes all the way down

If you do this fast, you will perform a very dynamic motion with your hand, and no one will really understand what the heck you are doing…

To get a better sense on this technique have a look on this tutorial video on “Abanico technique”:

2. Supported strumming (rasgueado apoyado)

This is where you place your thumb on the 6th or 5th string and you attack the strings with your fingers one by one quickly.

There are as many variations as you have fingers. As with the abanico, you typically perform one cycle per black note.

1-finger rasgueado (2 strokes)

  • Shoot your index finger down attacking all the strings at the same time.
  • Move your index finger up. Attack all the strings at the same time.

2-finger rasgueado (3 strokes)

  • Middle finger goes down
  • Index finger goes down
  • Index finger goes up

Make sure your cycles are seamless. To achieve this, you can prepare your middle finger as you shoot your index finger. This also applies to the 3- and 4-finger versions.

​3-finger rasgueado (4 strokes)

  • Ring finger goes down
  • Middle finger goes down
  • Index finger goes down
  • Index finger goes back up

4-finger rasgueado (5 strokes)

  • Pinky finger goes down
  • Ring finger goes down
  • Middle finger goes down
  • Index finger goes down
  • Index finger goes back up

At first, you may think going from the last stroke of a cycle into the first stroke of the following cycle is impossible. Keep practising slowly and prepare your fingers strategically!

Here is a tutorial video on “Supported strumming” technique:

Conclusion

These two flamenco techniques will help you stretch your hand to a whole new level of versatility. As you start practising these techniques with higher speed, you’ll soon realise how powerfully you progress.

So, go and try this technique today and improve your playing in the most unusual way.


Guest Post Bio:

Alvaro Antona is a flamenco guitar teacher and artist. With a 20-year career teaching and performing flamenco guitar all over the world, he now offers a free 20 minute flamenco guitar consultation for those who live thousands of kilometres from the nearest guitar strumming maestro.


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