Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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jmaulz
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by jmaulz » Mon Oct 22, 2018 2:51 am

Each to their own of course, but the approach that’s been most helpful to me is best summarized by Richard Provost:
“The basis of good scale technique is releasing tension between the fingers. Most, if not all of us, were taught to develop a walking motion between i and m when playing scales or single note melodies. While this, in principle, is correct, the finger exchange must come from the release of tension between the fingers rather than the imposition of the exchange." https://richardprovostguitar.com/

AAA

Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by AAA » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:07 am

Crofty wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:32 am
da23will

"What one is supposed to do with the finger...."

For myself, that has always been a decision that I am content to leave to my fingers, since I have never seen any possible advantage in forcing them away from their natural return impulse.

Their natural instinct always seems to return to their "neutral" position. If I analyse it, this return impulse seems to operate at the same speed as the actual stroke - a sort of mirror image - and, given that I want the fingers to be immediately available to pluck again, that always seemed fine by me.

I have enquired of advocates of deliberately holding them in, releasing as a bloc etc, when playing tremolo, to explain the benefits but have never received an answer that makes sense.

Paul
+1

AA

AAA

Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by AAA » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:10 am

Crofty wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:31 am
It has always seemed utterly obvious to me that the natural way that ANYBODY might tap their index/middle fingers on a table=top [usually out of boredom/impatience] is precisely the same as that advised, for guitarists, by Shearer and others.

It's also always felt to me like a chapter, in a book on running, describing what legs need to do....... I think for most people such advice would be redundant. However, as I have observed so many players with faulty rh techniques, over many, many years I can see that the technical difficulties of playing a guitar can often disturb these natural finger movements.

The problem is then that necessary advice can be misunderstood, but also that incredibly simple and natural movements of fingers becomes subject to too much self-analysis; then players can end up losing that natural, alternating movement, rather than reinforcing it.

My own view is that complex and UNnecessary advice on special sequencing of the fingers - for basic alternation in tremolo for example - has a lot to answer for in muddying the waters surrounding this topic.

Paul
+1

AA

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Alexander Kalil
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by Alexander Kalil » Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:59 pm

Tom Poore wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:28 am
Are you seriously proposing that right hand alternation should be done without moving adjacent fingers simultaneously in opposite directions?
Unfeasible at high speed, obviously. But for slow practice that's indeed what the play-relax method is proposing -- to do alternation (and everything else) without moving different fingers simultaneously in opposite directions.

kmurdick
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by kmurdick » Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:52 pm

Crofty wrote:
Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:32 am
da23will

"What one is supposed to do with the finger...."

For myself, that has always been a decision that I am content to leave to my fingers, since I have never seen any possible advantage in forcing them away from their natural return impulse.

Their natural instinct always seems to return to their "neutral" position. If I analyse it, this return impulse seems to operate at the same speed as the actual stroke - a sort of mirror image - and, given that I want the fingers to be immediately available to pluck again, that always seemed fine by me.

I have enquired of advocates of deliberately holding them in, releasing as a bloc etc, when playing tremolo, to explain the benefits but have never received an answer that makes sense.

Paul
A lot of what Shearer taught concerning the motion of arpeggios, including tremolo, was to set the fingers going in a natural way. Once you can play a motion in the way Shearer suggests, I think you should abandon this strict routine and allow the fingers to follow their natural inclinations. With all right hand technique, there is what it looks like, what it feels like and what actually happens. One can argue over whether any voluntary extension actually occurs, but what I think is necessary is that the fingers find some relief, at least in part, through some natural return (involuntary extension). This may not happen if one follows Shearer's preconceived routines too closely. The fact is that most of the good tremolos that I have seen are actually not sympathetic. Shearer taught me that with any efficient motion there must be an action and then a period of relief. In a word,Paul is right.

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Tom Poore
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by Tom Poore » Sun Oct 28, 2018 2:39 pm

Tom Poore wrote:Are you [Mike Maulsby] seriously proposing that right hand alternation should be done without moving adjacent fingers simultaneously in opposite directions?
Alexander Kalil wrote:Unfeasible at high speed, obviously. But for slow practice that's indeed what the play-relax method is proposing -- to do alternation (and everything else) without moving different fingers simultaneously in opposite directions.
No one I know of, including Shearer, teaches that at slow speed one must move adjacent fingers simultaneously in opposite directions. This is a straw man created out of misunderstanding.

In fact, at slower speeds, Shearer taught the opposite of what Mr. Maulsby accuses him of doing. After defining right hand inactive fingers as those which are not involved in either sounding or preparing to sound a string, Shearer wrote this:
• An inactive finger should always move with an adjacent active finger. As it moves, the inactive finger should remain slightly more flexed than the finger with which it’s moving.

• Never allow an inactive finger to remain rigidly flexed or extended. This would impede the movement of the active fingers.
(Learning the Classic Guitar, Part One, page 50)

Indeed, Shearer highlighted this text to show its importance.

Mr. Maulsby didn’t include this in his list of citations, as he was too busy looking for “gotcha” quotes to confirm his misunderstanding of what Shearer actually taught.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA

jscott

Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by jscott » Sun Oct 28, 2018 4:29 pm

tom Poore wrote:"There’s a point at which ignorance becomes willful."

There's also a point when dragging something over the coals becomes mere cruelty.

kmurdick
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by kmurdick » Sun Oct 28, 2018 6:07 pm

Clearly, in rapid alternation, i and m for example, one finger must be flexing while the other is extending. But there are two kinds of flexion and extension: voluntary and involuntary. If you start with your fingers in mid range and rapidly close the fingers into a fist, this is voluntary flexion. It after closing the fingers into a fist, you relax the fingers, they will return to to mid range - this is involuntary extension. Voluntary extension/flexion will cause fatigue if there is no relief. Involuntary flexion/extension will not cause fatigue and can offer relief. if there is no relief in the motions of the right hand, it may move quite rapidly (as in a burst), but it will quickly tire. I point to Tom Poore's brave experiment to develop a rapid continuous i and m rest stroke. It never happened because (IMO) he never developed a built in relief in the 'i' finger. In his videos you could that the 'i' finger would begin to sort of "poke" at the string as he increased speed. It had lost its natural return and couldn't keep up with the 'm' finger. I don't know what the cure for this would be. For some reason (I have the same problem) there is a lack of independence between i and m. It probably comes from years of incorrect training.

Crofty
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by Crofty » Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:00 pm

Kent

An engagingly honest post.

Paul

Crofty
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by Crofty » Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:06 pm

Kent

ps Have you ever checked if the problem that you identified still occurs when you are simply drumming your fingertips on a flat surface? [Preferably with as little conscious thought as possible. It may be connected to the fingernails releasing the string with a microscopically uneven time lapse.

e.g. i may set the string in motion instantly and effortlessly whilst m might just encounter a tiny delay. [Or vice versa]

kmurdick
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by kmurdick » Sun Oct 28, 2018 8:39 pm

Crofty, I've tried a lot of things over the decades. I think it was the years I played Chet Atkins style guitar as a teenager that set the stage for my demise. Then I studied with a guy who taught classical guitar and didn't correct my right hand. I used to do six hours of practicing a day in the absolute wrong direction.

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Tom Poore
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by Tom Poore » Sun Oct 28, 2018 8:44 pm

kmurdick wrote:Clearly, in rapid alternation, i and m for example, one finger must be flexing while the other is extending. But there are two kinds of flexion and extension: voluntary and involuntary. If you start with your fingers in mid range and rapidly close the fingers into a fist, this is voluntary flexion. It after closing the fingers into a fist, you relax the fingers, they will return to to mid range - this is involuntary extension. Voluntary extension/flexion will cause fatigue if there is no relief. Involuntary flexion/extension will not cause fatigue and can offer relief. if there is no relief in the motions of the right hand, it may move quite rapidly (as in a burst), but it will quickly tire. I point to Tom Poore's brave experiment to develop a rapid continuous i and m rest stroke. It never happened because (IMO) he never developed a built in relief in the 'i' finger. In his videos you could that the 'i' finger would begin to sort of "poke" at the string as he increased speed. It had lost its natural return and couldn't keep up with the 'm' finger. I don't know what the cure for this would be. For some reason (I have the same problem) there is a lack of independence between i and m. It probably comes from years of incorrect training.
You’re overlooking a very important point. When extending back to a string, our fingers can’t simply relax their way back to the string. If you merely release a finger after it sounds a string, then it won’t clear the string on its return—the back of your nail will bump into the string.

A finger’s return to a string is the combination of a release of tension along with some controlled movement. My guess is that it’s a release at the middle joint, with a precisely timed extension at the base joint to lift the finger over the string on its return. The base joint must extend just enough for the fingertip to clear the string, but not so much that the finger flies too far past the string. Timing is a crucial issue—perhaps the most crucial issue.

So it’s not all one thing or another. I agree that, done correctly, the finger return to a string feels like a release. Strictly speaking, however, it’s not.

By the way, I disagree with your analysis of my right hand. The problem never was with i. In fact, i is the one finger that works best for me. It’s a and m that are the problems. If you watch my right hand closely during i & m alternation, you won’t see my i finger “poking” at the string. Rather, it moves far more directly and efficiently than m. From long experience, I can tell you this: if I had to bet on which right hand finger of mine misses more than any other finger, I certainly wouldn’t bet on i.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA

kmurdick
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by kmurdick » Sun Oct 28, 2018 10:08 pm

Tom Poore says: "You’re overlooking a very important point. When extending back to a string, our fingers can’t simply relax their way back to the string. If you merely release a finger after it sounds a string, then it won’t clear the string on its return—the back of your nail will bump into the string."

Not at all. As Berg points out, the knuckle joint movement naturally leads the extension, and the middle joint movement follows. Play an i free stroke on the 2nd string and just let the finger completely go the instant the finger passes through the string. It will not hit the string on the return. Although it feels like the middle and knuckle joint segments work together, in reality they do not. The only time the middle and knuckle joint segments are in sync, is the moment the finger hits the string; once the string is struck. the knuckle joint segment begins its extension while the middle joint segment continues its short follow through. All efficient free strokes are elliptical - this is the one universal thing you can say about guitar technique. This is the way the hand works; and it's a good thing too. The free stroke is an complex motion, but the good news is that it all happens without any thought on the students part (unless your name is Kent Murdick or Tom Poore).

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Tom Poore
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by Tom Poore » Sun Oct 28, 2018 10:37 pm

kmurdick wrote:As Berg points out, the knuckle joint movement naturally leads the extension, and the middle joint movement follows. Play an i free stroke on the 2nd string and just let the finger completely go the instant the finger passes through the string. It will not hit the string on the return. Although it feels like the middle and knuckle joint segments work together, in reality they do not. The only time the middle and knuckle joint segments are in sync, is the moment the finger hits the string; once the string is struck. the knuckle joint segment begins its extension while the middle joint segment continues its short follow through. All efficient free strokes are elliptical - this is the one universal thing you can say about guitar technique. This is the way the hand works; and it's a good thing too. The free stroke is an complex motion, but the good news is that it all happens without any thought on the students part (unless your name is Kent Murdick or Tom Poore).
The idea that good movement just happens doesn’t square with reality. For every Grisha Goryachev or Matt Palmer, there are a host of players who don’t come anywhere near their level of playing. There are far more people than you or me who fall short of great playing. They are legion. It never just happened for them. And truth be told, it probably didn’t just happen for the favored few.

It’s axiomatic that excellence is always obvious, but only in retrospect. This recalls a quote from Romanian artist Constantin Brâncuși: “Simplicity is complexity resolved.”

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA

kmurdick
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by kmurdick » Sun Oct 28, 2018 11:32 pm

Tom says, "There are far more people than you or me who fall short of great playing. They are legion. It never just happened for them. And truth be told, it probably didn’t just happen for the favored few."

I'm glad you mentioned this because it is true. The reason it is true is because students need to start at age 8, and they need to develop their right hands independently of reading music and learning the left hand. What happens the first time you learn to read A on the 3rd string? The right hand starts to tense up and students can't even feel this happening. The fact is, most students are dead in the water from the start. I'm convinced, and so are many others (Hi, Provost), that most people are born with a fluent right hand and it is theirs to lose. A nice experiment for you to try is to turn your guitar around and play left handed with the i and m rest stroke. I'll bet that you will get the results you wanted. Just don't voluntarily extend those fingers, let them bounce back on their own You should be able to achieve 140 mm alternating continuously on one string within a month (more likely a week). I don't know if you have seen my video:

I'm not saying that every student can become a virtuoso, but almost everyone can develop a smooth right and left hand technique. How many professional violinists end up playing concertos with various regional orchestras? Not many. Same is true for guitarists.

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