ROCKER: How to hit the perfect note

When playing your instrument, it is very easy to get caught up in the pizzazz of it all and ignore the all-important fundamentals that matter.

Friday February 12 2016

Many beginning instrumentalists, especially on

Many beginning instrumentalists, especially on the guitar, have problems getting each note played to ring clearly in their chords as rightly put on ultimateguitar.com. ILLUSTRATION| JOSEPH NGARI 

When playing your instrument, it is very easy to get caught up in the pizzazz of it all and ignore the all-important fundamentals that matter. Many beginning instrumentalists, especially on the guitar, have problems getting each note played to ring clearly in their

chords as rightly put on ultimateguitar.com. Many people say the size of their hands is the  main  factor, but you will rightly admit that there are some really big Samoan men with massive fingers who play the ukulele with flair and grace.

So what is the solution to having a clean ring to your playing? How can you hit each note?

The simple reason is that, while playing your instrument, the manner in which you hold each chord; pressing against the fret if it is a guitar or pressing the black and white notes if you are playing the piano, is not right.

You usually start to feel a pain on your fingertips and wrists and stop playing the instrument properly. So the sound takes a major hit. That is how I felt when I had to endure learning how to play an F chord on the guitar. That was certainly a harrowing experience.

SIMPLE WAY AROUND THIS

The simple way around it is working on each chord patiently. We cannot all be Kirk Hammett on our first attempt. Thatman has been playing since he was about 13 years old. You probably just started last week so take it easy.

You should learn how to be patient with yourself. Work on a few chord progressions at a time and try to nail them really slowly. Then play them a bit faster the next time.

Press down hard enough but not too hard that you injure yourself. Always ensure your fingers are as close to the fret as possible to get a clean note and not an indistinct sound.

A trick I was taught by one of Kenya’s leading guitarists, Lewis Ong’wen, is that your thumb position is key to how comfortable you will be while playing. Make sure it is on the fretboard right in the middle of your other four fingers.

That way, you can scale the length of your instrument without much of a problem. Play with the tips of your fingers and not the soft padding underneath. This might take a bit of practice but you’ll be able to nail every note distinctly.

Sometimes, you are not the problem at all. The issue could be your instrument. Make sure each string is clean. If you’re are playing a trumpet, trombone or flute, clean it. If you are a drummer, clean your kit regularly. And above all, ensure it is tuned to the

right key. You might be blaming yourself for having a porous technique when in fact, your instrument is the problem.