I've been focused on right hand exercises for a few weeks now. Yesterday, I'm at lessons, I talk about how I'm building up tension in my right shoulder that I think is slowing me down, and also how I've never really had a solid up strum. I suppose I've focused on solos and arpeggiated things forever and ever.
Brendan talked about letting the hands loosen up and focusing on the sound and not the technique. Nothing really cool happened during my lesson.
Then, I got home, went out, ate lunch, came back and plugged in. It didn't take but a few minutes, when for whatever reason, the pick slid the to front of my thumb and my index finger curled around the front to grab it, and bam, my upstroke snapped into place. I immediately had a clean, even, effortless strum in both directions without any tension in my shoulder.
Having the pinky grab the edge of the bridge pickup to orient my hand to the strings has been huge. Giving my right hand two points of contact on the guitar gave my hands the stability to experiment and find my strum.
By the end of last night, I was so relaxed I was sight reading with a metronome out of the Berklee books. I feel like a solid guitarist now who knows the techniques he needs and can execute them comfortably. I'm going to thoroughly enjoy this new plateau I'm on, going through the modern method books again at a higher level, focusing on rhythm and tone instead of fretting and comfort.