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

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

Post by guitarrista » Tue Oct 30, 2018 4:42 pm

Hmmm.. so I guess it is ballistic in the sense of "she went ballistic when she discovered her sister using her nail polish" (example from Merriam-Webster) :D however the impulse description I agree with.

What percentage of beginner students, do you think, are currently practicing entirely wrong things because the terms they were introduced to have multiple well-used meanings and/or differ in specialized vs. general contexts? :wink: I think for such occasions we need a reference mapping of intended meanings.
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by kmurdick » Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:38 pm

I think that talented students find their own way. Berg, Provost and many others teach this way and they are very successful. The last four adults (two of them started when they were over 60) I taught could demonstrate extremely fast continuous alternation. Of course I may have drawn all the wrong conclusions from these students. I've been wrong before, many times.

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

Post by kmurdick » Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:51 pm

Crofty says, "My own rh technique - and advice to pupils - is that one should be able to play both rest and free strokes without any deviation of the rh position..."

I think the presentation of the fingers to the strings should change between rest stroke and free stroke. The idea that a comfortable rest stroke position on the 1st will give you a comfortable position for free stroke on the 3rd string is pretty reliable. Look at 1:37 on this video. BTW, this is exactly the way Shearer taught free stroke. It will work as long as you abandon these strict movements early on.

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

Post by guitarrista » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:07 pm

kmurdick wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:38 pm
I think that talented students find their own way. Berg, Provost and many others teach this way and they are very successful.
Right. Overall it is always best, no matter how famous the teacher, to ask lots of questions and to think and analyze critically through what you were told as well as what you see and experience while you practice. BTW my comment above was a general one.
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by Crofty » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:06 pm

Kent

The problem I have with that concept [apart from the fact that I don't technically need to adopt it] is that, by definition, it seems to suggest that rest strokes and free strokes are not played either sequentially or together as each requires an alteration to the position of the hand to work properly.

But if one's hand/thumb position and fingers can manage it comfortably, why on earth would you want to keep making such unnecessary adjustments?

Personally I am not that concerned about how famous or highly respected someone is; I prefer to go by the evidence of how it feels and sounds to me and, since I find it quite comfortable to do so, I prefer to have either stroke available "at will" - plus all other sorts of small adjustments of course - in order to offer as wide a palette of sound as I am capable of producing, should I feel that is what the music requires.

It's one of the few things [in my view] in which the guitar does excel, compared to other instruments....

But, of course, each to their own as they say.

Paul

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

Post by Crofty » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:21 pm

Kent

By the way, I have theories for everything. I think that the reason that this "two strings back" stuff became so widely disseminated, is because players nail shapes often don't allow for both strokes to be made from the same hand position.

Given that conundrum, my choice was to experiment with the rascals until they did.

Paul

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

Post by guitarrista » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:26 pm

Crofty wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:06 pm
The problem I have with that concept [apart from the fact that I don't technically need to adopt it] is that, by definition, it seems to suggest that rest strokes and free strokes are not played either sequentially or together as each requires an alteration to the position of the hand to work properly.

But if one's hand/thumb position and fingers can manage it comfortably, why on earth would you want to keep making such unnecessary adjustments?
Wait, if you are playing both types of strokes from the same hand/arm setup, it means that you ARE making adjustments elsewhere - likely the way your knuckle, mid- and tip joints work together. To me it makes sense to make a simple adjustment to the overall apparatus at the arm level and keep the fingers movement about the same rather than fiddle with two different types of coordinating finger joints movements. You're just more comfortable with the other option.
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by Crofty » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:39 pm

Guitarrista

Well, clearly we are making micro-adjustments all the time. All I can tell you is that i will often play a simple single string scale exercise, with a fixed hand position, and can neither sense nor see any disturbance in my hand position , whether I play rest or free strokes, whilst my thumb either gently rests against my "i" finger or on the adjacent lower string.

Similarly I practice arpeggios with a fixed hand position and play through all possible variations of rest/free strokes with i, m and a, again without hand adjustment. [I use the same approach with the scales of course.]

The reasons I worked at that seem both obvious and worthwhile to me - one develops an ability to highlight particular voices in the music relatively effortlessly.

Of course there will also be times when movements do become overt. After all, we guitarists can be playing Dowland divisions at one time and rest stroke oriented Spanish or Latin pieces at another so techniques alter.

What I am discussing, I guess, is a central starting point for one's basic hand shape and position from which one then chooses options.

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

Post by Crofty » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:59 pm

Sorry - two more things, having just quickly looked at the video Kent posted.

Firstly, what was being posted was NOT someone playing a piece of actual music and explaining how to use either rest or free strokes as they felt worked best musically. It was just an either/or choice of stroke on an open string - hardly relevant [in my view] to choices we make in real playing.

Secondly I just cannot understand why people advise that m and a must move together.

Why? Do pianists and flautists have to move these fingers together? Do guitarists have to move their left hand 2nd and 3rd fingers together?? Clearly not.

The reason that doesn't happen is because it isn't physiologically necessary - and leaving that aside, if beginners are forced to move m and a together what on earth happens when they are then required to alternate those same two fingers?!! A bit of untraining?

I'm afraid that guitar pedagogy still has some way to go as far as I am concerned. There is still far too much "this is what you SHOULD do" and far too little "and this is WHY".

Oh - and a third thing. the video demonstrates what I see far too often: a free stroke that travels far more than is necessary past the lower strings. Once a string has been released - and it doesn't matter which stroke is used - the finger's job is over and the return impulse should be allowed to kick in immediately. In fact it is quite possible for a free stroke to be essentially the same as a rest stroke, but simply not even get as far as the adjacent lower.

All the above clearly just imo.

Paul

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

Post by guitarrista » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:06 pm

Crofty wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:59 pm
Secondly I just cannot understand why people advise that m and a must move together.

Why? Do pianists and flautists have to move these fingers together? Do guitarists have to move their left hand 2nd and 3rd fingers together?? Clearly not.

The reason that doesn't happen is because it isn't physiologically necessary - and leaving that aside, if beginners are forced to move m and a together what on earth happens when they are then required to alternate those same two fingers?!!
As is typical for a brief video about a complex set of movements aimed at beginners, there are a lot of details that are left unsaid and some descriptions are less than clear or complete.

It is not that you are supposed to move 'a' with 'm' in the same forceful manner as the active finger 'm'; it is that you are not supposed to artificially freeze 'a' to stay (fully) extended while 'm' flexes, but rather to let it move as it wishes naturally as 'm' flexes. This is not explained in the video.

The reasoning behind this instruction, though, has to do with the physical limitations due to flexor tendon interconnections - the Quadriga effect. See this which came up recently.

However, you can see how easy it is not to provide all the salient and clearest details so as not to overwhelm a beginner, say, which can then inadvertently create misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
Last edited by guitarrista on Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by Crofty » Wed Oct 31, 2018 10:49 am

Good points guitarrista**. Maybe it has always puzzled/irritated me more because it never related to my own experiences when playing the guitar, so it just wasn't an issue. Possibly this was because I had spent many years playing and teaching the flute so, naturally, [in both senses] one develops independence of the fingers without even being aware of it.

But you are right to point to the problems of advice being taken out of context, and then that narrow section of it becoming repeated as a mantra that everybody needs to follow, for all time. There are probably many other examples...

Paul

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

Post by lagartija » Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:28 pm

Paul, it is in his signature.

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

Post by guitarrista » Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:21 pm

lagartija wrote:
Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:28 pm
Paul, it is in his signature.

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Just don't call me 'Anselmo' :lol:
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Re: Current Right Hand Technique: Are Shearer, Presti still valid?

Post by kmurdick » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:30 pm

Crofty says, " it seems to suggest that rest strokes and free strokes are not played either sequentially or together as each requires an alteration to the position of the hand to work properly."

Nothing is black and white. I like John Williams approach, he plays rest stroke in almost a free stroke position, but when he has to run those rest stroke scales at 160mm, he moves his hand to the preferred rest stroke position. The same goes for a rest stroke melody with free stroke inner parts.

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

Post by kmurdick » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:36 pm

Crofty says, "Possibly this was because I had spent many years playing and teaching the flute so, naturally, [in both senses] one develops independence of the fingers without even being aware of it."

Be careful about comparing different instruments. I've been playing and studying the saxophone for the last 12 years, and nothing on this instrument compares to the right hand of the guitar - except perhaps the embouchure and all the mouth and throat functions, but only in degree of complexity.

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