Early Left-Hand Development

The left-hand sequence…

…..in both Shearer’s The Shearer Method and Learning the Classic Guitar Part II begins with introducing notes on ③, ② &  ①.  Early left-hand development includes posturing the left hand with proper thumb placement and mid-range positioning of the joints, allowing fingers to form notes with ease and comfort. The bulk of reading materials are single notes played with p in simple solos and student/teacher duets.

Early left-hand development

A on with 2 is the easiest note to begin with since “2” is the longest finger and central in the hand.  Once A is referenced on the fingerboard, notes on ②—1 on C and 4 on D and notes on ①—1 on F and 4 on G are easily placed.  Both 1 & 4 are slightly flexed, but still comfortably postured within the area of midrange.

NOTE: At this early stage, use of “3” on either “D” or “G” is less encouraged than “4,” since stretching “3” away from “1”  and “2” is less within the comfortable midrange of many beginner hands.

Early left-hand development

Left-Hand Development through Dyads

Early left-hand development

When single-note playing is secure, students progress to dyadsDyads are patterns of 2 notes played on adjacent strings, which when played in succession,  develop left-hand finger coordination and independence of movement.    Chromatic notes,and flexible fingering (such as a”3 “on D)  are gradually introduced.  All dyads are played with i-m free stroke with the R.H. thumb resting on a lower string to provide stability.  Dyads address a variety of L.H. issues, including:

  • Grouped finger movement.
  • Finger arching—avoid collapsed tip joints and interferance with a higher-sounding string.
  • Finger reaching (spreading).
  • Slight leaning posture of “1.”
  • Elbow and upper arm adjustments.
  • Flexible fingering (e.g. 3 or 4 on “D”).
  • Reading and visualizing two-notes patterns

Capstone dyad study from The Shearer Method Book I

Dyad Connection Exercises

Moving dyads from one to another can be challenging.  Isolating and exercising dyad connections is an effective way to acquire coordination.  Dyad connection is one of four types:


Common finger—fixed strings


Common finger—string crossing


Different fingers—fixed strings


Different fingers—string crossing

Dyad Exercises is organized in sections from easier to harder type.  Students may work in any order and repeat measures as needed.   A possible (and optional) harmonic accompaniment is provided for the teacher.

Dyad Studies

Chimes and Cool Breeze are student/teacher duets to supplement with more advanced study in both The Shearer Method and Learning the Classic Guitar Part II.  As with all dyad studies, the top student part should be played with i-m free stroke through out.  The thumb may be either supported on a lower string (below dyad) for right-hand stabilty, or remain relaxed resting against the tip joint of i.

Flexible fingering of D on ② with either “3” or “4.”

Active string crossing from dyad to dyad.

Student teacher duets

Alternating Dyads and p

Alternating i-m dyads with a  p bass, either on D ④; or G ③ gives a satisfying musical experience in two-voice music.  The alternation-study sequence is The Shearer Method, is graded and mostly non-chromatic.   

Two Alternation Studies here are more chromatically challenging.  Things to conisder:

  • p mostly plays ④; but ocassionally switches to ③—be watchful!
  • The last measure of No. 1 uses 3 harmonics—to be played p, i-m on ④, ③, & ②
  • No. 2 is performed fast here (as if in 2/2, or cut time), but a slower more moderate 4/4 tempo is acceptable as well..



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