To be able to control your instrument, you need to be able to control yourself.  The position of your hand, the angle of your wrist, the motion, picking patterns, are all very important. 
  • Is your picking motion mostly from your wrist as it should be, or is your forearm going up and down as you play?
  • Is your arm/hand stiff? 
  • Are you only picking in one direction?
  • Do you have more difficulty playing the bass strings than the treble strings, or vice versa?

Here are some tips for you to not only better control your right hand, but also to make sure you are not straining it too much.  Remember, you need to be comfortable so you can play the oud for hours and hours if you like.

1.  First make sure your posture is good.  Now, hold your pick (risha/mizrap) so that it is like an extension of your thumb.  It can be at a slight angle, going towards the instrument if you like. 

Try to keep your wrist at the smallest angle you can, in other words, as parallel to the instrument's face as you can, without it being 'impossible' to play.  I say this because though many players use an exaggerated bending of the wrist, this can hurt you in the long run.  Try playing your major and minor exercises this way.

PLAY WITH YOUR WRIST.  Don't allow your forearm and elbow to take over.  If you need to, practice this motion playing 'air guitar' or 'air oud' I guess we should say.  The fact that the motion is mostly in the wrist is why it's best to try and avoid too much of an angle with the wrist.  So you don't injure yourself over time.  If you are playing comfortably, you will never have to worry about that. 

2.  Make sure that as you play on the same string you alternate your picking (down/up/down/up). Each time we change strings, we should start with a down stroke (with a few exceptions).

3.  If you are having trouble playing cleanly and evenly across all the strings using your picking technique, perhaps it is because you need to reposition your forearm a little as you go to the bass strings or vice versa.  You are always trying to use only your wrist movements in picking, but you may need to slightly reposition your arm (slide it just a little bit) as you go to the bass strings and back.  Your arm and wrist should be loose.  You also shouldn't be making too hard of a fist around the pick (risha/mizrap).  Loose is the way to go.

Copyright Mavrothi T. Kontanis. All rights reserved 2008