Tokyo modal music lab Written by Takayuki Ueda

3Picking Tips To Save YEARS Of Rubab and Guitar!

Rabab ラバーブ

Hi, I’m Ueda, a player of the folk instrument, the rabab.
When I was at Berklee College of Music, I majored in guitar, so I’ve seen some of the best pickers in the world. Based on my years of experience, today I’d like to share with you the fastest way to get better at picking stringed instruments.
You may think that practice is dull, but it’s not.
But it doesn’t have to be, if you do what I’m going to show you in this article.
If you do what is in this article, you can save years of practice time for free.

1How to choose a pick

This is important, because there are so many different types of picks out there, it’s hard to know which one is best for you. In conclusion, these are the picks that can be used for various rhythms.

・Smaller picks
・No sharp tips

The pick on the left is recommended by John Baily of University College London, who is famous for his research on Rubab. This is a very good pick, both in terms of cost and performance. You don’t need to buy a new one, you can just file your own one down to a round shape.

2How to hold a pick

As on the left, in a natural way.
Grasp the pick lightly where your thumb is popped over your index finger.
If you hold the pick at the tip of your thumb, as on the right, the center of gravity will tend to blur a bit.

Why you should focus on your arms

A common point in picking, whether guitar or Rubab, is to place the axis on the elbow of the arm. This will free up your wrist and make picking across the strings much easier.

3 Form (the way you hold yourself)

This will allow your right arm to pick at a more relaxed angle. Most videos and photos are taken from the front, so you may not notice this, but it’s really important.

In Rubab, the traditional way of playing, sitting on the hips, naturally results in this form. Even if you don’t consciously think about it, you will end up with a 45 degree forward thrust. For more information on the form of the rubab, please refer to the article by John Baily, a professor at the University of London.

How to practice picking so you can get better at it.

It is often said that it takes 1000 hours to reach an intermediate level of skill. This is true to some extent, and if you practice with today’s form, you will definitely get better.
In addition, if you’ve been playing guitar or sanshin for a while, you’ll naturally improve faster if you practice the same kind of stringed instrument played with a pick. So, how long is 1000 hours for a complete beginner?

1 hour every day → Achieved in 3 years
3 hours every day → Achieved in 1 year
6 hours every day -> Achieved in 6 months

You may think that you can’t do it for an hour every day, but if you divide it into 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the afternoon, and 30 minutes at night, and replace the time you spend looking at your phone, after dinner, or watching Youtube, you can afford it.
If you think that you can learn new skills in just 3 years and enjoy your life with your instrument for 100 years, it’s not so bad.

If you would like to experience the actual form or ethnic instruments and play them, free trial lessons are available, so feel free to contact me anytime -> swaraj0527@gmail.com