question #3

"I don't like practicing
scales. Are scales
really the best way to
develop my technique?"

- Ron McKeen in Denver, Colorado

I guess it depends on what your goals are, the style of music you want to play. But scales are good.

Even though a mindless routine of practicing scales will yield some benefits, I would say the general principle to keep in mind for developing technique stems from balancing two things: [1] ease and [2] stability.

Ease and stability are the "yin and yang" of guitar technique. One without the other is going to lead to limitations.

Ease can be characterized as being the "lightness" and general feeling of "comfort" in both hands and body when we play. Stability as the general feeling of being in control by "feeling" the strings as we prepare and play them.

The easiest way for anyone to become familiar with the two is by exaggerating the opposites. For ease, take a simple scale (Sorry, Ron) and play the notes as lightly as possible, so light that the strings will sound "muted." For stability, exaggerate the preparation process by "digging in" to really feel the string with your finger or pic and waiting a second before releasing the note. (I think this goes without saying, but don't "dig" so hard that you hurt yourself, for crying out loud.)

So no matter if you are practicing scales or arpeggios, intervals, slurs, (etc.) the main principle behind developing technique is to always strive for a "perfect" balance between ease and stability.