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scissors guitar exercise

Scissors Exercise for I and M Alternation

Check out this exercise and learn how to play better scales and melodies.


This classical guitar exercise aims to help your right hand i and m alternation. Using opposing resistance, it both strengthens and trains the hand to deliver more “snap” when alternating fingers. This helps in both scale passages and arpeggios, and increases speed and preparation time for the individual right hand fingers.

You can use the rhythm below, or make up your own.

guitar scale exercise

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5 Responses to Scissors Exercise for I and M Alternation

  1. Jude January 28, 2018 at 9:09 am #

    Thanks especially for this exercise. Of course, it meant going back and redoing something I thought I’d learned, a page of p – i – m patterns where I thought the purpose was to teach the fingers where to find the open strings with different rhythms in the top and bottom lines. I was so focused on that that I kept ending up with both i and m in midair between the strings (rest stroke until Lesson 10) and unsure about which was next and just followed the ‘melody’ so that it sounded right. So I started over, slowly enough so I could actually control the fingers and after a few weeks it’s (practically) automatic, at least on the easier patterns, where the rhythm is the same for every measure (rather than over 2 or 4 measures). The book I’m using is intended for use with a teacher, but the fact the exercise got an entire lesson to itself should have been a giveaway that more was involved. Better late than never, I suppose.

  2. Scott Kaye April 8, 2016 at 10:44 am #

    Do you have the link for the rhythm of “scissors”?

    • Allen April 8, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

      Hi Scott,
      Thanks for the question.
      This rhythm I suggest is one among many. I like this one, but others would work just as well.
      I inserted the rhythm here on the page.

  3. Scott Kaye April 8, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    I really enjoy and appreciate your ability to convey the finite deatils of the physics and exacting motions in this exercise and others like it, which cumulatively lead to excellence in guitar playing. These are the hidden details that eventually lead to making beautiful playing look easy, even though we know the process leading to that, isn’t.


  4. mark June 21, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    Hi Maestro,

    Yes, I can see where this “speed burst training” will help engage (and build) the fast twitch muscle fibers in our fingers, resulting in faster alternation between our fingers, whether we are doing Rasqueado, Picado, etc. I very much like all of the exercises that you have taught me.

    Thank you sincerely!

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