So what practice implications do you draw from these videos? The obvious one is not to try to play just from the knuckle (although there may be an argument from starting this way) but what else do you think?
I could probably go on and on about this. Since I starting looking at slow motion videos of concert classical guitarists, I've learned a lot of eye opening things that I've been able to directly apply to my playing. My right hand technique has made some great breakthroughs recently that I attribute to knowing exactly how the best guitarists are moving their fingers. Of course other things are helping. I've learned some things from lessons I've been taking, from some new method books, and dvds, and also from this forum. The slow-mo videos are a great way to verify my understanding of something I've read or heard to make sure the player is really doing what they teach. You'd think these two things would be the same, but often they are not. Having a way to verify what the best and correct movements are is really valuable. A good statistic is based on the quality and quantity of the sample. So, for instance, if you have a large sample of the best classical guitarists in the world and can show that they all use the middle joint in conjunction with the knuckle joint, then that's more reliable information than if you just have one teacher telling you to focus playing from the knuckle. If you're the kind of person who takes things like "focus your playing from the knuckle" literally, then you may be heading down the wrong path.
This set of videos illustrates one example of a misunderstanding I had about how the finger strokes work. It's pretty easy to see that if you take what William Kanengieser is saying and demonstrating literally, then you'd think the middle joint doesn't play any important role in the stroke. Yes, I know he doesn't say *not* to use the middle joint, but he does say to focus on the knuckle joint, and in all his demonstrations the middle joint is immobile. It's only when you slow down the video of his fast playing that it's clear he uses a lot of middle joint too.
So, I started to pluck more from the middle joint, but I'm learning there's way more to it than just using more middle joint. It's really about coordinating the ordering of the joints. It's knuckle first and then middle. The knuckle provides the initial momentum to the string and the middle grabs that momentum and takes over for the knuckle. Simultaneously or milliseconds after the initial string contact, the knuckle uses that momentum and bounces off in the opposite direction to help re-position the finger to pluck again. For me, Just flexing more from the middle joint also tends to force the knuckle to extend very naturally. I've heard people describe the plucking action as "simply closing the hand" and while this is a good description it would be easy to confuse that as meaning moving both joints together, but if you close your hand very naturally it's knuckle first and then middle joins in. So, it's my current belief that this is the correct way to pluck.
Maybe it's changed since I first was learning guitar, back then everything was knuckle-centric. I always thought that the rest stroke used all knuckle and that free stroke was mostly knuckle. Back then, the only method I remember saying that free stroke used middle joint was the Parkening method. I believe Pumping Nylon was mostly knuckle-centric, with the other joints referred to as "helper joints". I've always had a difficult time with my rest strokes feeling too heavy and had trouble getting through the string. I started to suspect that rest stroke must be using the same knuckle then middle firing order. I then noticed that this is exactly what I see happening in slow motion videos of rest strokes. I've been having a lot of luck applying this to my rest stroke technique and my rest strokes feels so much better and lighter to the touch. Check out this video of Scott Tennant doing rest strokes. It's difficult to see because the momentum of the knuckle makes it look like the knuckle is pushing through the string, but I believe it's really the middle taking over.
The other things that help my hand work better are pronating the wrist so I can contact the string at the extreme left side of the nail. My nails connect down very low on the finger, so this is probably an individual thing. I'm also having luck with a straight wrist and slicing through the string a lot. To me, this position looks a lot like Barrueco's hand position and gives me the warmest sound and the easiest plucking action. Hand positions are the easiest thing to observe in videos and try. I also learned that letting the tip joints give helps my rest strokes be warmer, punchier, and easier--learned this from lots of videos (see the Romeros and tip joints thread)
So, the slow motion videos have helped to change the way I'm currently approaching the free stroke, rest stroke, tip joints, and hand position.
Jon-What practice implications do you draw from the videos?
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.