Flexible mind and fingers

Hey everyone,
it’s been a while. :slight_smile:
So one thing I struggle with and keep wondering about is if I’ll ever be able to free my mind and my fingers so I can easily play things differently once I’ve practiced it one way.
An example from today’s bass lesson: G major arpeggio, with the G on the 3rd fret of the E-string. I practiced this at home in the usual shape that is deeply fixed in my mind. Now my teacher suggested: You can also play the B on the 7th fret of the E-string and throw a little slide in beforehand. That’ll make it easier to get in the right position for the next bar and sounds cool. So I practice a few times and love it.
Screenshot 2022-12-01 225453

However, when we put it together with the whole song, I just couldn’t bring my fingers to play the new shape. I wish I could adapt more quickly and not be so set in my ways. Often I don’t even think about alternatives.

Is this something others find hard too? Is there a way to practice a certain freedom of mind? Will this resolve by itself at some point? I’m really a bit frustrated and wish I could be a bit more creative.



I don’t have a great suggestion here, but I love the way you’re thinking about this, increasing the flexibility and limberness of the mind along with the fingers.

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muscle memory is a beyotch :rofl:


I know, right? Whoever came up with this idea of “here are some shapes you need to get drilled into your head”? :thinking:

This is very much a ‘go slow and it’s going to take way more time than you think it should’ sort of thing.
On sax, I had never ever ever never used my side F key (an alternative way of fingering the note F.
I started working on a scales exercise that has you using the normal F and the ‘side F’ (and also two different fingerings for Bb).
Well, there was much cursing to be had but I simply slowed it down, burned it in and now I can go back and forth mostly at will.

Try this…
slow it all down and play it the new way, but…
play the few notes before and after it with the new way over and over, not just this part.
This will get your brain thinking you are supposed to go here vs. there when your fingers play the notes leading up to this part.


I identify with every part of this.

As you move forward in experience and time, you’ll want to expand your list of things that are, as you say, deeply fixed in your mind.
One solution I have for this is practicing every scale and arpeggio with as many fingering variations as possible.

There’s a index finger form (I call it Jaco form) there’s a middle finger form (I call it The Bird) and there’s a pinky form. There’s also a moving form that I call The Musician’s Institute form, since that was the first place I encountered it.

That’s a good end goal - at the beginning, I’d recommend practicing the major pentatonic scale form. It’s the exact shape for what you described above - moving up the neck for scale degrees 2 and 3.
It’s my most used scale form when I’m playing. It’s flexible, sounds great, and stays comfortable under your hands.

…That’s a lot of material and ideas, but really, I just mean to say - yes - this happens all the time, and the more things you can practice into comfortable places in your brain and hand, the better.


I find it extremely exciting that there is more than one “solution” to these kinds of situations. And it is a great exercise and opportunity to learn the fingerboard when exploring different ways to play this.

In the end, it is almost always context (what comes before, what comes after) that will lead you to the “best” solution, but certainly also dexterity and personal preferences.

Personally, in this example, I would very likely opt for the second possibility that you offered, i.e., move up from the G to the B on the same string (with the G fretted with the index or middle finger and the B fretted with the pinky).

But, yes, accepting new shapes is hard for the brain at first :smile:


I am having this with guitar right now. There’s chord shapes that just break my brain when I try and transition between them even though I can do either one in isolation just fine. The current one is Em to Bm.

Like seriously, I stop and stare at my fingers for like a second or so. I am still so bad :rofl:

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