My first instrument was violin, which I started at the age of five. Much later at the age of twenty I explored the electric guitar and while I think, that I can not get any better on the violin I see still much room for improvement for my guitar playing. One problem, which I recognize often, is my inability to stand repeating Riffs or patterns for a longer time and it doesn’t matter so much, if they are easy or technically challenging. I don’t mean phrases or riffs, which include pauses to rest, I mean parts, which stress you constantly. The best example are steady sixteens on an open string or an ongoing scale-pattern. In my experience this is much harder to play than a figure, in which you can rest sometimes on longer notes. A few days ago I stumbled upon this video of a well-known guitar-guru on youtube. He is demonstrating the old Spider-exercise, going up and down from string to string, one finger per fret at a steady tempo. At this point I hear a big wide yawning from you, my valued reader, but wait until I have explained the difference I have recognized here.
There are millions of instruction-videos for the spider-exercise on the tube, but not many push this boring exercise to such an extreme. Most teachers show the exercise for a short time-period, just played in one position. Mike from The Art of Guitar stretches this exercise. He recommends to play the exercise across the whole fretboard up and down in a slow tempo. The second time he repeats every note and doubles the tempo. When I tried this at home I recognized some interesting effects: Because there are no pauses I have to face my problem with steadiness. Usually I adjust little things in my technique, while I have time to rest within a musical part, but if there is no rest, I have to adjust while I am stressed. And I recognize, that I have never learned on the guitar to deal with this situation. Whenever I start this Spider-exercise I am forced to stand a very long steady part and I forsee, that this will have a good influence on my weakness, which I have described above. I want to compare the effect with jogging:
If you just exercise short runs you will never stand long distances. So you have to practice long runs to improve your condition.