Ana Vidovic's elbow stroke

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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robert e
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Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2015 6:49 pm

Ana Vidovic's elbow stroke

Postby robert e » Wed Dec 14, 2016 7:42 pm

I notice that Ms. Vidovic often involves the elbow in her thumb stroke, which entails displacing the right hand, sometimes by a few inches or more. To be more precise, I see a combination of elbow and thumb movements with a subtle wrist assist. I haven't encountered this technique in classical guitar pedagogy--it's more reminiscent of piano--but then I don't have much formal training either way. It may be more typical than I think.

It's apparent throughout this video, especially in the crescendo that begins around 0:50 -- https://youtu.be/dmc6KV0_UVM

When I attempt it myself, I enjoy it, especially the sensation of my arm being free and active (which I admit I should be feeling all the time, which, if nothing else, makes this stroke a good exercise for me), and I find that it promotes relaxation in my hand.

Does anyone here use their elbow this way? Or teach this way? Or is this actually standard practice and what I perceive as atypical merely a matter of degree? I welcome any thoughts.
Last edited by robert e on Wed Dec 14, 2016 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

astro64
Posts: 383
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:43 pm
Location: American Southwest

Re: Ana Vidovic's elbow stroke

Postby astro64 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:31 pm

A number of years ago I had some private lessons with her when she was still offering those to anyone who was interested. I asked her about the two ways of moving the right hand, i.e. sliding the arm up or down on the guitar in e.g. playing a scale from 1st to 6th string, or pivoting at the elbow to make that movement. She was very clear that she preferred the latter which she considered more stable even if it meant changing the area of contact on the string more towards the sound hole as a scale reaches the bass notes. In general, you will not see her moving the contact point of arm much on the guitar, if she needs to reach she will pivot from the elbow. Many modern players slide the arm up or down. I realize this doesn't quite answer your question, but I see that motion in the video essentially as another example of pivoting from the elbow to get the stroke she wants.

robert e
Posts: 391
Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2015 6:49 pm

Re: Ana Vidovic's elbow stroke

Postby robert e » Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:20 pm

astro64 wrote:I see that motion in the video essentially as another example of pivoting from the elbow to get the stroke she wants.


Thank you, astro, for sharing your thoughts and personal experience. You do answer the question I didn't explicitly ask--perhaps the more important one--when you imply that elbow articulation, for whatever purpose, is routine in AV's RH technique. I think it's pretty clear, for that piece, that more elbow = more forte, using no elbow at all for piano passages.

Her motion to me embodies David Leisner's description of his full-arm thumb stroke as "like a raindrop hanging from the edge of a roof, then falling". (He adopted it to overcome focal hand dystonia.)

But back to your lesson. Did you adopt her from-the-elbow appraoch? What was the most important thing you learned from her?

astro64
Posts: 383
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:43 pm
Location: American Southwest

Re: Ana Vidovic's elbow stroke

Postby astro64 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:33 pm

I probably do both, use the elbow for small rotations, but I feel more comfortable with the Scott Tennant approach of sliding your arm along the guitar in playing scales. Most important thing in the lessons? Relax the tension in the left hand (that was one lesson), the other hour was right hand technique, project stronger tone, etc. I thought it was all quite useful and helpful. She is not at all condescending in spite of the large gap between the capabilities of the teacher and the student. Overall, I do love this about the classical guitar community. It is still small enough that most of the top guitarists are still down-to-earth people who will teach at any level when called for. I have similarly good experiences with the "private lessons package" at the GFA, where you sign up for individual 30 min classes with 3 different performers during the GFA.

robert e
Posts: 391
Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2015 6:49 pm

Re: Ana Vidovic's elbow stroke

Postby robert e » Fri Dec 16, 2016 12:42 am

Yes, they are not mutually exclusive, so why not keep both tools?

I will keep it in mind that many elite players are accessible and do give lessons. I take lessons ad hoc, anyway, so why not from the best?

Thanks again for the helpful talk, astro64!


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