What is the approach to the right hand?

In general, the Rainbow books aim to be as flexible and universal as possible with regard to the right hand. In a nutshell:

  • all the music in Book 1 can be plucked using just the thumb, with fingertips resting on string 1
  • Book 2 deals with finger plucking and various combinations of thumb and fingers
  • the books are designed so that teachers can teach these techniques in a different order, or in parallel with each other

Here are some more details of how the right hand is taught, and some thoughts about how you could vary this if it did not suit your needs, or your own favoured teaching progression.

Starting with the thumb

At the beginning of Book 1, the pupil learns to pluck with  “thumb only” while resting fingertips on string 1, and is then able to stick to this one simple right hand technique for some time, while the left hand gets to know the basics of the fingerboard. For this reason the notes on string 1 do not appear until much later, in Book 2.

Book 1 deals only with with strings 2, 3, and 4. These three strings make a simple major chord – so open-string tunes sound nice and melodic, and the occasional wrong note does not sound too bad! Another advantage of starting with these strings is that it encourages the right hand to make a good shape with the thumb outside, rather than inside, the fingers.

Adding the fingers

In Book 2, there are separate sections of the book dealing with a) plucking melodies with alternating or “walking” fingers, and b) plucking broken chord patterns with thumb, index, middle and eventually ring fingers. The book is designed so that teachers can teach these techniques either way round, or in parallel.

Introducing the fingers earlier

If you prefer to start with the more standard classical guitar approach, many of the melodies in Book 1 can be played just as easily with alternating fingers – in fact this technique could be introduced more or less any time as an alternative to thumb plucking. Where a tune contains a lot of string jumps, the thumb could take string 4 while the fingers pluck on 3 and 2.

In order to leave the music as uncluttered and flexible as possible, there are no right-hand markings in Book 1 or in the first section of Book 2 – but there is plenty of room for you to add your own if you wish.