Now with all this in mind, let’s now talk a little bit about HOW to use finger picking patterns to help you learn finger picking.
There are many, many finger picking patterns that can be learned and you can even make them up yourself. So it would be impossible to list them all on any web site. What you will need to do is to learn as many of these finger picking patterns as you possibly can so as to give variety to your music. I’ve known some artists who use the same finger picking pattern (Travis) for every song. Please don’t do that! That’s down right annoying! What we’re after here is MORE DIMENSION AND MORE VARIATION!!!
Of course you have to start somewhere. Learning one picking pattern at a time is how it’s done. Make it your goal that in time you will learn a large variety of picking patterns. What will happen is that once you have mastered a number of patterns, over time you will be able to call those picking patterns up at will, as you vary your approach to different chord progressions and guitar licks. As you improve in the art of finger picking guitar, you will be able to do this and give very little thought to what you are actually doing. You won’t need to think what exact pattern should you used at the time you play them. This is because your marvelous brain has “learned” them so well and you will actually “feel” the need to change to a certain picking pattern to make it flow correctly through a given section of music. You may not even realize that you did it because you foucus point was on your singing.
In time, what we want to achive with your finger picking is for it to become not just a mechanical exercise but a musical expression. We want it to be second nature and most importantly, an expression of your heart. Your finger style guitar work should and will become a way you give of yourself – giving of your feelings – give of your heart. THAT’s what we want because;
That’s what MUSIC is! I’ts GIVING OF YOUR HEART!
This can all be accomplished by making those connections in the brain we talked about earlier. This is how it’s possible for an artist to concentrate on singing and lyrics as they’re finger picking guitar through complicated songs. Those complicated picking pattern connections must become so deeply “burned” into your brain that you will be able to play them and sing your song at the same time. Please remember this very important point! When you’re singing, it is more important to be concentrating on the lyrics and the feelings expressed in those lyrics than on the guitarwork itself. The guitar work should only be in the background of your concentration, so to speak. Here is where the skill comes in. Those connections need to be very strong so that it just happens with very little thought. So this is where the practice comes in. Through repetition and practice those connections will become stronger and stronger. If you don’t practice you can actually loose those connections you once had. Gordon Lightfoot once said that if he doesn’t practice at least a half hour a day he begins to ‘lose it.’ I’ve notice the same thing myself so I know it’s true.
If you want your music to become an expression of feelings rather than just a mechanical exercise then you’re going to have to work at it. So I suggest that you make your mind up now! You are going to have to practice and your going to have to be serious about it. After all, that’s what music is all about!
Music is an expression of emotion and feelings. It takes practice to get to that level and to ‘KEEP it there.’
Once you can play the guitar and concentrate on the singing and not solely on the finger picking guitar work, then you will have made it to that level. Those connections will be so strong that they will be able to almost “take over” with very little “thinking” on your part. You will have LEARNED to finger pick guitar the way I would like to see you do it. And you can do it! You can learn how to finger pick as well as the masters if you put your mind to it, AND I want to help you do that.