How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Robbie Flamerock
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How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by Robbie Flamerock » Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:02 pm

If guitbox is right about knuckle joint overemphasis being a problem in pedagogy, how did these great players actually arrive at the correct way?

Johnny Geudel
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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by Johnny Geudel » Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:16 pm

There are false problems arising in every discipline when one cannot distinguish a pedagogical situation from an expert performance.
In the exact sciences e.g. this takes the form of crackpot theories that calculate an exact value for PI, that refute the laws of thermodynamics by designing a perpetuum mobile, that proove the existence of arbitrary entities by surreptitiously passing from the mathematico-logical level to the ontological level,etc.. These theories are superficial imitations of science, lacking the foundational background.
As a rule, these geniuses consider that the expert teachers, malicious and ignorant beings, are misleading their public.
Transpose this to guitar technique at your own peril.
Or read recent posts by members scottszone and guitarrista in similar threads.
Last edited by Johnny Geudel on Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Johnny Geudel
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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by Johnny Geudel » Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:42 pm

.

Mr Kite

Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by Mr Kite » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:06 pm

First off, it's not clear how many of them did assume the false way - sure, there seems to have been a tradition of teaching by describing the movements the fingers are supposed to make in great detail, and it looks as though the teachers in that tradition were completely wrong about how they should move. I gather that that basically started with Shearer in the States - I wouldn't want to underestimate the reach of that tradition, but it doesn't represent the whole world of guitar teaching.

The videos of good players saying one thing and doing another show that even they are not that aware of precisely how their fingers are moving. This I think is one reason why it's a really bad idea to try to teach the movements directly, even if - thanks largely to the other thread - they are now much better understood. More to the point, it opens the way for trial and error. It means it's not really surprising if people who did come up in the Shearer tradition adjusted their technique over time and didn't realise that they had ended up doing something quite different from what they had been told to do.

As far as I can see, we learn practical skills by trial and error. The guidance you get from your teacher is only ever a starting point. You'll never get the hang of something by reading a book, even if reading a book can start you off in the right (or the wrong) direction. It's about practice and calibration.

What happens when someone has learnt to pluck from MCP at a slow tempo and then ups the speed, or attempts a tremolo? Probably they don't really know, except that it doesn't go that well at first. With a bit of practice it gets easier and the fingers start to find their way - that's just trial and error. In the process the fingers start to extend at the point of release instead of flexing, but practically nobody notices this, and even fewer people care.

The value in the new understanding is that teachers can use it to diagnose problems, design exercises, recommend studies etc. The danger in it is that people may think that it is a good learning strategy to focus on what their fingers are objectively doing, rather than the sound they are making and how the movement feels inside - that is just repeating the original mistake.

Someone who listens carefully to the sound they are making and also to their body will end up with effective technique. Someone who tries to make the precise movements described by a teacher will need a lot of luck along the way - even if the teacher is describing the right movements.

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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by guit-box » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:21 pm

If we're going to ask unanswerable questions then: How many people never reached their full potential or had to quit because false pedagogy sent them down the wrong path?
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

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BugDog
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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by BugDog » Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:47 pm

Mr Kite wrote:
....
Someone who listens carefully to the sound they are making and also to their body will end up with effective technique. Someone who tries to make the precise movements described by a teacher will need a lot of luck along the way - even if the teacher is describing the right movements.

Yeah, this is how I see it too. Language is just too imprecise. Bodies are too different. The myriad of micro adjustments and motions required for all the different repertoire is just too large to get from any other approach.
BugDog
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Johnny Geudel
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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by Johnny Geudel » Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:13 am

BugDog wrote:
Mr Kite wrote:
....
Someone who listens carefully to the sound they are making and also to their body will end up with effective technique. Someone who tries to make the precise movements described by a teacher will need a lot of luck along the way - even if the teacher is describing the right movements.

Yeah, this is how I see it too. Language is just too imprecise. Bodies are too different. The myriad of micro adjustments and motions required for all the different repertoire is just too large to get from any other approach.
Brilliant résumé.
However, proprioception may be contaminated and therefor visual inspection is indispensable for decontamination.

Robbie Flamerock
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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by Robbie Flamerock » Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:24 pm

guit-box wrote:If we're going to ask unanswerable questions then: How many people never reached their full potential or had to quit because false pedagogy sent them down the wrong path?
Unanswerable? Just simply ask these players what their concept was as they developed their craft. That would be relevant data.

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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by astro64 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:41 pm

I think the answer is that no one learned to play the guitar at a high level by relying largely on reading instruction books with descriptions of how fingers should move. Many of those books were written by people who had mastered it and then tried to put into words a process that is rather complex. We may then also ask if the chances of learning to play well are better if we just watch videos rather than read books. They probably would be somewhat better. In my case, I did not develop good tone until seeing Tennant's demonstration in the Pumping nylon DVD, even though I had read many instructional book prior to that (and even had teachers before that). Seeing it in slow motion may further help. On the other hand, even if we see a particular motion in the video, trying to translate that into "telling" my fingers which joint to flex and which one to extend, may still not work out very well, I suspect. While I can see the motion of the fingers in the videos in that famous long thread, my own sensation in my fingers still tells me that all joints feel the impulse to flex followed by relaxation or extension only after the string is plucked, not a relaxation (let alone active extension) for one joint when we touch the string and a continuing flexing for the other joint(s). Anyway, others have raised that issue in that long thread already.

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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by Lawler » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:09 pm

I played baseball when I was a kid. I was a pretty good pitcher, a decent shortstop, less than average batter. I wanted to be better than I was. I practiced endlessly, and that helped... focusing on the ball and my fundamental skills. I also studied virtuoso baseball players' techniques... pictures, detailed descriptions, slow motion film... didn't help. Why was that?
That's a rhetorical question.

Soundminer
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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by Soundminer » Fri Jun 23, 2017 2:05 pm

Johnny Geudel wrote:
Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:16 pm
There are false problems arising in every discipline when one cannot distinguish a pedagogical situation from an expert performance.
In the exact sciences e.g. this takes the form of crackpot theories that calculate an exact value for PI, that refute the laws of thermodynamics by designing a perpetuum mobile, that proove the existence of arbitrary entities by surreptitiously passing from the mathematico-logical level to the ontological level,etc.. These theories are superficial imitations of science, lacking the foundational background.
As a rule, these geniuses consider that the expert teachers, malicious and ignorant beings, are misleading their public.
Transpose this to guitar technique at your own peril.
Or read recent posts by members scottszone and guitarrista in similar threads.

Yes well, these 'geniuses' are usually the ones that get the ball rolling. May take a couple of hundred years..but still.

Get of your high horse Sir.

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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by CactusWren » Mon Jun 26, 2017 6:25 pm

Probably because they didn't pay too much attention to it.

The error is the mistaking of a model for the real thing. Of reducing complex wholes to one-sentence instructions. The attempt to control the human body as if it were just a few pulleys rather than a complicated gestalt. Finally, of improperly substituting an academic/technical mindset for an activity that can only be controlled by sensation.

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Larry McDonald
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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by Larry McDonald » Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:17 am

I'm still exploring the idea that "the Correct Way" happens in 2 stages, the all in one direction model evolving into the eventual model that we see in the videos. As I've written, I still wonder if this morphing happens because the most beginning students do not have the sensitivity to use the intrinsic muscles in the hand, but must rely upon the larger muscles in the forearm (the digitorum profundis, and the digitorum superficalis).

What I see is what guit-box sees, that the professional brings the finger to the string by simultaneously extending the PIP and DIP, while flexing the MCP. After the "work" of the force exerted on the string (the "pluck"), we observe the exact opposite of this motion; the MCP extends while the PIP and DIP flex (the "relax"). This is complex flexion/extension motion exactly describes the function of the lumbricals,which, not so incidentally, arise from the digitorum profundis tendon.

So you see, if you are still reading all this tripe, the "all in one direction model" for beginners engages the same tendons as one of the most import and and observable intrinsic muscles in the hands, but at an unrefined stage. Perhaps it just takes a while for the body to discover that it doesn't need all that extra effort to displace the string and to redirect the work from the forearm to the hand. I also suspect that there are assists to the advanced players motion, likely from both the interosseous muscles in the hand and a perhaps a continued but lighter assist from the digitorum superficialis in the forearm, at least for some folks.

But what do I know. I would love to hear an opinion from a physiologist.

Larry McDonald
[Cross-posted to guit-box's thread]
Dr. Lawrence A. McDonald, D.M.A., Art Kaplan Fellow
Author of The Conservatory Tutor for Guitar
2008 Michael Thames Cd/Br
Royal Conservatory Advanced Guitar Instructor
Royal Conservatory Advanced Theory Instructor

kmurdick
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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by kmurdick » Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:01 pm

astro64 says: " While I can see the motion of the fingers in the videos in that famous long thread, my own sensation in my fingers still tells me that all joints feel the impulse to flex followed by relaxation or extension only after the string is plucked, not a relaxation (let alone active extension) for one joint when we touch the string and a continuing flexing for the other joint(s). Anyway, others have raised that issue in that long thread already."

I believe that what you feel makes it happen. Here's the question I have: if I were using an impulse to extend the fingers, why can't I feel it? I can easily feel the flexion in both the knuckle and the middle joints. I can even feel the pull from the middle joint when the tip hits the string. In slow mo, my 'i' finger looks exactly like all the videos with that complicated return process, yet I'm not doing any of that - it just happens. The only thing you ever feel is that you flex from the knuckle and the middle joints pretty much at the same time and relax the finger the instant the string is plucked. Those instructions and that feeling will, I believe, give everyone the complex stroke that you see in those 100 videos. (BTW, my 'm' finger doesn't work well, but my i and a are fast and loose, and my i and m are in good shape on my left hand when I turn the guitar around. This is what I base my thoughts on.)

kmurdick
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Re: How Did the Virtuosi Learn the Correct Way When They Assumed the False Way?

Post by kmurdick » Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:05 pm

astro64 says: " While I can see the motion of the fingers in the videos in that famous long thread, my own sensation in my fingers still tells me that all joints feel the impulse to flex followed by relaxation or extension only after the string is plucked, not a relaxation (let alone active extension) for one joint when we touch the string and a continuing flexing for the other joint(s). Anyway, others have raised that issue in that long thread already."

I believe that what you feel makes it happen. Here's the question I have: if I were using an impulse to extend the fingers, why can't I feel it? I can easily feel the flexion in both the knuckle and the middle joints. I can even feel the pull from the middle joint when the tip hits the string. In slow mo, my 'i' finger looks exactly like all the videos with that complicated return process, yet I'm not doing any of that - it just happens. The only thing you ever feel is that you flex from the knuckle and the middle joints pretty much at the same time and relax the finger the instant the string is plucked. Those instructions and that feeling will, I believe, give everyone the complex stroke that you see in those 100 videos. (BTW, my 'm' finger doesn't work well, but my i and a are fast and loose, and my i and m are in good shape on my left hand when I turn the guitar around. This is what I base my thoughts on.)

To answer the question of How Do Virtuosi Learn The Correct Way? They learn it because it's easy and their teacher and/or the student is smart enough to leave a working technique alone.

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