Practicing scales and aging

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Larry McDonald
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Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by Larry McDonald » Wed Jul 23, 2008 4:33 am

No, I'm not kidding Ramsnake. I hadn't put this together since board breaking is pretty easy for me. I use the same visualization techniques that I use to shift positions on the guitar. I rarely miss (positions or martial arts targets), even when I'm facing away from the board. [I often practice guitar in the dark or with my eyes closed so that I really know the shifts.]

It is much more dangerous holding boards for others. Most folks aren't very accurate when they spin and kick, punch, change distance, or what ever. My hands get hit/kicked every once in a while. I was sparring in close today and my partner and I threw mirror punches, and our knuckles hit -I've never seen that one before.

Sheesh, this is embarrassing. Martial arts may not be the cause of the general stiffness in my hands but I'm certainly going to be limiting my breaks for a while.


Larry McDonald

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Steve Kutzer
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Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by Steve Kutzer » Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:09 pm

BugDog wrote:Lare,

Didn't you say in another thread that you were into martial arts and were starting to break hard objects with the same hands you play guitar? If so you might consider that a possible cause along with aging.

I've recently noticed that when I've been out mowing grass (and I've got a lot of grass to mow) that the vibrations from gripping the mower will cause a certain soreness and stiffness the next couple of days.

My two cents, for what's worth.
Good call, that.

I was weightlifting and doing the clean part of the clean and jerk. I developed tennis elbow that took 6 months to heal.

Lately, in preparing my house for a move, I carried a lot of things around. Basically spent most of 3 weekends hauling, grasping, lifting. That messed my guitar playing up too.

As pointed out above, one thing for sure is that the 50+ year old body doesn't heal like a 25 year-old body. So protect yourself! If you must break boards, make them styrofoam :wink:
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blur

Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by blur » Wed Jul 23, 2008 1:56 pm

Age:58
Self assessment...
LH: Bloody good
RH: Bloody average but improving all the time
Reason: Played with a pick from an early age, emulating everyone from Hank Marvin to George Harrison to Jimi Hendrix to Steve Howe to John McLaughlin and so on and came to classical/finger-style later so there is a noticeable imbalance in the linear speed of my hands...

I think that to ever get a very fast right hand in terms of sustained scales you might have to start pretty young a la John Williams etc, but _most_ pieces don't need that. Of course there are a lot of pieces that require fast bursts of speed which may involve scale fragments and arpeggios, but my current strategy is to isolate those bits, and really break them down into very small patterns. I am currently working on the Walton Bagatelles nos 1 and 5 purely as study material in this regard. Nos 2, 3, & 4 will be entering the repertoire a damn sight sooner than those two!!

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Vito Simplicio
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Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by Vito Simplicio » Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:01 pm

blur wrote: Of course there are a lot of pieces that require fast bursts of speed which may involve scale fragments and arpeggios, but my current strategy is to isolate those bits, and really break them down into very small patterns.
I take a more basic un-classical approach for fast bursts. I just use my thumb. :okok: :roll:
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blur

Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by blur » Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:19 pm

I meant to add to add this to my last post.

For a while now I have been noticing that if I place my right hand as we are 'supposed to' for normal playing and have my nails filed as we are 'supposed to' for normal left-side nail contact, then for much of the time I will actually be contacting the string with the right side of the nail . It sounds better and feels better (more natural), and I can play scale passages (and others) faster and more accurately. AND I don't have the nasty wrist turn that that is normally associated with right-side players such as Presti-Lagoya. After all these years of playing I am really torn at the moment whether to go over to the dark side. :) Probably should be another thread, but seeing the mention of 'trigger-finger' etc made me think that some players might be forcing their hands against what is their natural inclination. I certainly have experienced some problems with my m finger curling up when playing off the left side, but not when playing off the right.

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remmus
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Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by remmus » Wed Jul 23, 2008 2:22 pm

Simplicio wrote:
blur wrote: Of course there are a lot of pieces that require fast bursts of speed which may involve scale fragments and arpeggios, but my current strategy is to isolate those bits, and really break them down into very small patterns.
I take a more basic un-classical approach for fast bursts. I just use my thumb. :okok: :roll:

Hi Vito!

Have you ever timed your thumb to see how fast it is? :D
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ScottK89

Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by ScottK89 » Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:25 pm

Along the lines of martial arts and mowing the grass impacting one's hands-

I've wondered if taking too good care of your hands and body could have a negative impact? I know that as one gets older, maintaining things one always did is often possible- back when I did Judo, I played with a 60 year old. Not as strong as I, but good technique, and could clearly play with the young guys.. So I'm wondering if a person never does anything to stress their hands a bit, if they would not age as well.. I know runners who keep running as they age, but taking it up as an older adult is not usually recommended.

On the other hand, NFL players look like they can hardly move after 40-50, so there are clearly limits on what your body can bounce back from.

Any thoughts?

-----
Side note, maybe slightly related- I'm 37, but have beat up my hands a good deal (had some pins in my left for a break at one point). They hurt in the cold, and had some problems with using them. Took up CG a year or so ago, and though progress is slow, my dexterity is clearly improving in non-guitar areas.

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Hans W
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Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by Hans W » Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:52 pm

Jeez, who'da thought that breaking materials with one's hands (rather than using convention techniques such as saws and hammers) might perchance, nay possibly, have any effect on said body parts whatsoever! :lol: Image :lol:

Hans
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remmus
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Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by remmus » Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:57 pm

Hans W wrote:Jeez, who'da thought that breaking materials with one's hands (rather than using convention techniques such as saws and hammers) might perchance, nay possibly, have any effect on said body parts whatsoever! :lol: Image :lol:

Hans
Well, I think Lare said the real danger was not in the breaking, but in the holding of the wood for others to break. I can relate to that. I hate having to hold a nail for someone to hit with a hammer, or even holding a board for someone else to saw gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Lare, stop holding boards for people. If it's that important that they break the board then they'll find someone else to hold it. Just tell them the truth - you are a musician and can't take the chance on having your fingers accidentally BROKEN! (If you were my husband I'd break a board over your crazy head! :twisted: :lol: )
"...it is awfully easy to become content with a level below what one is actually capable of." - Carl Peter

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Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by sting6ph » Wed Jul 23, 2008 4:24 pm

I think it's also the physical condition. Aging for some is not that bad...in fact it's even better because the mature hands will be forced to learn new things. It's difficult but if you practice three to four hours a day - you'll be great.

BUT if your physical condition such as work, you may have some troubles. I'm a writer and I practice at least an hour a day. My hands are already tired when I get to my guitar so I can't really work on my speed that well. :D Delcamp Rules :)

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KevinCollins
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Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by KevinCollins » Wed Jul 23, 2008 4:28 pm

I think when you ask others to hold the board for you, they expect the same in return.

I prefer using power tools, nothing like a good power saw to wake you up in the morning. But the nail gun was definitely a major step in my scale playing, especially in terms of working overhead.

I believe the speed mystique is overdone. I am more of Benny Goodman type. I keep the scales working in the background. but what I could bring back in eight weeks now takes four months, the limiting factor is how long I can sit.

Take my advice, don't close your eyes when you use the hammer...

Cheers,

Kevin
Last edited by KevinCollins on Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Larry McDonald
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Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by Larry McDonald » Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:06 pm

Summer wrote:Lare, stop holding boards for people. If it's that important that they break the board then they'll find someone else to hold it. Just tell them the truth - you are a musician and can't take the chance on having your fingers accidentally BROKEN! (If you were my husband I'd break a board over your crazy head! )
Hi Summer,

As of yesterday, I am no longer volunteering holding boards for others. My wife is a martial artist as well. She wouldn't break a board over my head as she wouldn't waste a perfectly good board! :lol: She and I have sparred a few times; you don't want to mess with her.
ScottK89 wrote:I've wondered if taking too good care of your hands and body could have a negative impact? I know that as one gets older, maintaining things one always did is often possible- back when I did Judo, I played with a 60 year old. Not as strong as I, but good technique, and could clearly play with the young guys.. So I'm wondering if a person never does anything to stress their hands a bit, if they would not age as well.. I know runners who keep running as they age, but taking it up as an older adult is not usually recommended.
ScottK89, I hear you. As soon as you try to protect something, it seems that the something breaks. I have never been one of those guys. If you keep using the hands, playing recitals, etc, I always believed that the hands and mind would continue serve you well. Do you still do Judo?

Hans, here is my new theme song...
"Somebody once told me the world is gonna' roll me, I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed",
"I was lookin' kinda dumb with a finger and a thumb in the shape of an "L" on my forehead".

My question is more with scales/exercises and the general hand-stiffness of aging. I wondered how others had dealt with this. I cut my scales and stock exercises way back many years ago when they just didn't seem to be adding to my ability anymore. With the exception of the two week refresher, I didn't do these things. Stock exercises and scales are not enough (if they were, we would all be playing like John Williams). At some point, you need to move beyond the stock scale/exercises. Don't get me wrong, I still work on technique, but I don't drill things I can play in the repertoire. Once I'm warmed up, I can play for hours. But getting over that 20 minutes of stiffness puts the "rump" in "grumpy".

Larry McDonald

ScottK89

Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by ScottK89 » Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:24 pm

No Judo for a couple years now- club I was working out with went away, and things got too busy to find another.. Have wondered if I would cut my nails for it, if the opportunity presented itself.. :?:

I've gone to work gloves for heavy stuff and yard work, at least protects nails, and and hands a bit, but figure I won't actually not do something I normally would to protect them..

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KevinCollins
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Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by KevinCollins » Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:21 pm

I think Larry is right, it just takes longer to warm-up. For me, though, it is the stiffness in my body that gets to me. The hands are just fine, but after forty minutes I feel like a lump of clay. Maybe I should take up judo.

Cheers,

Kevin
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Re: Practicing scales and aging

Post by ramsnake » Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:01 pm

Hans W wrote:Jeez, who'da thought that breaking materials with one's hands (rather than using convention techniques such as saws and hammers) might perchance, nay possibly, have any effect on said body parts whatsoever! :lol: Image :lol:

Hans
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: Yeah! :?
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