Peskyendeavour wrote: ↑
Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:04 am
I have been reading this thread since I joined the forum with interest. I haven't said anything till now as I am still discovering what I do - I'm sure I'm on a very long journey. And partly to do with that and that I'm a baby on this road has made me rather shy to say things here since so many teachers and knowledgeable folk are here on the forum, my thoughts and opinions are perhaps not really of much value. Though when I get to the end of message perhaps at the very least, if nothing else, my previous concert piano teacher's thinking/teaching that now translates to the guitar, may be helpful to some. At least it is to me...
This journey of discovery that specifically relates to RH includes placement, movement, shape of hand, shape and length of nails, and last but not least quality of tone.
I have decided to share a thought occurred to me here, now, as it is a thought that is thinking about the same problem from a completely different angle, partly prompted by my recent practising of tremolo, and pieces requiring m i alternation at speed. I say partly prompted because the other part of the journey of discovery is also prompted by my curiosity in learning the guitar with arthritis to all my joints.
Focus is that I want to make sure I don't accumulate bad habits ingrained to hurt my joints more, but to keep them moving and supple even while in pain. I also realise that my joint pain makes me very aware of what joints I'm using when, and that in itself is a very useful learning tool. (Silver lining of dark cloud?)
The way one plucks and uses joints seem to me to come from placement of hand. 1 Where you put your hand in relation to the strings. 2 The angle of approach / shape of hand.
Where you put your hand dictates how much your finger itself has to reach, move, and action. Move being relocation in relaxed manner and action being having energy in the movement (or applying force though i don't like that term as it sounds very forceful and effortful which is what I am not doing). This placement of hand whether it's above the strings closer to (6)below the strings closer to (1) long way away from the strings perpendicular to the sound board... all has an effect. [sounds like common sense?]
The angle of approach also changes the way you pluck, in fact how you pluck, and influences the finger movement, as well as length and shape of nails, all of which would then determine what sound you make. [again common sense, I'm sure you all know this already but there is a point of repeating this knowledge, I hope, if you read on]
25 years ago, my then piano teacher who's a concert pianist said to me, don't raise your fingers to hit the keys for a louder sound, in fact the energy should come from above your shoulders. Imagine water running down from above your shoulder (near base of neck) all the way down the arm and to your finger tips. (He traces a line from my shoulder down to my pinkie, weakest finger that can't play loudly because it's small and short and I can't raise it high enough to hit the key.) He said, look at how you are sitting in relation to the piano, you are sitting so low, so your wrist is below your hand and your hand almost below your fingers. The water flowing down from the shoulder stagnates at the wrist and goes no further. How's energy, this water, reaching your fingers?
I find this analogy beautiful and helpful through not only playing the piano but all other instruments - all of which require some dexterity, fast movement of fingers...
Think of fast notes as a string of droplets, light, small, each perfectly formed. Think of loud notes being larger amount of water flowing through. The energy is not force but a flow sometimes more than others, yet soft and scatters, bends, goes and takes new form of the vessel or what it's put into - the instrument/the sound.
I've recently put this advice to my guitar playing.
The water must flow.
The arm and hand and fingers must form a natural shape
(Despite Julian Bream's eminent success and no dispute about that I cannot condone to his RH shape at the wrist, I prefer what Scott Tennant says in Pumping Nylon and on YouTube you can find his tutorial on placement of arm)
Having determined what that natural shape is, Bend at elbow, more or less straight wrist but not in tension slightly curved fingers as you would be when relaxed... I place my arm over the guitar.
All of this then determines my nails' length and shape. Not the other way round. Of course also what sound I want to produce also determines nail length/shape having understoood what the shaping of nail is supposed to do in pressing and releasing by its angle etc.
I'm still exploring the nails part to be honest, but the fingers and how it moves in a relaxed and natural manner, allowing the "water to flow down from above the shoulder" helps fingers to move faster. The more relaxed I am the faster and in control I can move. The more tense and rigid I hold any part, the water stagnates there and it doesn't reach the string and produce the "water droplet" (note) I want.
So i try to think less of flex or extend this joint or that joint, but the water that flows and the natural energy, through connected muscles all the way from shoulder down, which becomes the notes through the tip of my fingers onto the strings.
Ignore all this if you think it rubbish, it's not even something a guitar teacher said to me but a cross applied principle from a different instrument that you may well think a waste of space. But at least that is how I now play and minimise my pain, I hope might give discussion if nothing else.