Tuba – My First Guitar Concert in 25 Years: 2nd Installment (Musicians, Psychology, Pain, Strain, Injuries, Posture, Alexander Technique)(Albuquerque)

by ethankind on March 7, 2016

This ebook, An Alexander Technique Approach to Tuba Technique, is published on this website in a PDF format. It is very detailed and practical, and it will give you the physical tools you need to take the limits off of your ability to create the accurate tuba technique you want without sacrificing your body.
This ebook is also for sale on all AMAZON websites in a KINDLE format.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.

CONCERT POSTPONED. I’LL LET YOU KNOW WHEN IT IS RESCHEDULED.

This is my second installment of writing about getting ready for my 1st concert in 25 years. What I’d like to write about are some of the basics of guitar technique and posture and playing with accuracy that have really knocked me for a bit of a temporary loop.

I do want to say that as of the last couple of days I’m learning to accommodate these major changes in my playing.

AS YOU READ THIS ESSAY YOU’RE GOING TO READ ABOUT ME LETTING GO OF WHAT HAS BEEN CONSIDERED UNQUESTIONABLY ESSENTIAL TO CLASSICAL GUITAR PLAYING. WHETHER YOU’RE A GUITARIST OR NOT, ONE OF THE GREATEST GIFTS YOU CAN GIVE YOURSELF IS TO QUESTION THE VALUE OF EVERY TECHNIQUE YOU WERE TAUGHT IS ESSENTIAL TO THE PLAYING OF YOUR INSTRUMENT, SINGING, OR CONDUCTING.

Let me start with what is the rest stroke in right hand guitar technique, called apoyando. This is where you play a note or a series of notes with a straighter finger that stops against the adjacent string. This technique has been seen an absolute must for classical guitarists, because the guitarists who preceded Andres Segovia in the classical guitar lineage used it and Segovia used it for greater volume and/or emphasis.

About five years ago I met a guitarist who taught just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, Stanley Yates, who is a wonderful guitarist and arranger. He had done an interview with John Williams, the world’s best technician on the classical guitar, and John Williams said he had stopped using the rest stroke. (He still used the rest stroke on rare occasions.)

I tell you it was if I had had a spiritual experience on the guitar, and I wasn’t even playing at the time. For the first time I could see that I never liked apoyando, and I hated the fact that it required a change in the relationship of the right hand to the strings. This meant when going back and forth between the free stroke and rest stroke, you had to keep changing the right hand’s position.

I’ve now given up the rest stroke for two reasons. One is I don’t like it, and second is it makes no sense. I now play with the finger picks called Alaska Piks. Let me tell you why I don’t need the rest stroke at all.

These Alaska Piks (correct spelling) untrimmed extend at least a quarter inch beyond my finger tips. At first I trimmed them to mimic real nails, but then realized I loved the feel of playing with these picks as if I was using quills. This extra quarter inch gives me more effortless leverage for volume, AND IT ALSO MEANS I DON’T EVEN HAVE TO TOUCH THE STRING WITH MY FINGERTIP. (I usually do touch the tip of the finger when I play by default.)

So, between the finger picks and the amplified guitar, which I mentioned in my 1st installment, the rest stroke, apoyando, is unnecessary.

Let me make it clear this is my personal decision to drop the rest stroke. In my guitar technique ebooks the rest stroke is still completely described and defined.

Because of how good my British guitar teacher, Carlos Bonnell, and my Alexander Technique teachers were, I’ve now, with the Alaska Piks, been able to create a right hand technique where the 3 fingers and thumb all play with the same attack and beautiful tone quality WITHOUT me having to move the hand to accommodate the ring finger.

This is a very rare thing among performing classical guitarists. Almost all classical guitarists are constantly changing the right hand position to get all three fingers to sound the same. (The little finger isn’t used, because it is generally too short, though I did put an Alaska Pik on it. I discovered it makes using the little finger a practical part of the technique. But what I realized is it just isn’t needed in classical guitar.)

Between no rest strokes and a right hand technique that is so quiet, it is becoming a joy to play the classical guitar with a very clean technique. I do continue to change color by moving my hand closer to the neck or the bridge.

I’ve been playing the guitar lifted and resting on the right leg for over 25 years. I thought I was fully upright for over 25 years. I decided to test it by sitting up against the edge of a wall, and discovered I had been fooling myself.

All of these years without the feedback of another Alexander Technique teacher showed me I was leaning sideways and toward the guitar neck. It wasn’t all that bad visually, but internally it meant I had I had lost my sense of flowing upward and was falling down.

A SENSE OF UPWARD FLOW AND A LENGTHENING SPINE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CONCEPT FOR THE ORGANIZATION OF THE BODY IN THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE. I AM CREATING THIS FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THE GUITAR. I’VE REALIZED I NEVER TRULY HAD IT 25 YEARS AGO. THIS UPWARD FLOW IS CALLED DIRECTING OR DIRECTION.

Even though it’s been 25 years since I had to discipline myself to prepare a concert, I still dabbled enough on the guitar to trust my hands to be accurate.

Have I been in for a shock! THE DIFFERENCE IN TRUSTING MY HANDS WHEN I PLAYED FOR A FEW MINUTES AT A TIME AND NOW FOR HOURS IS ASTOUNDING. What do I mean?

I’m now creating a technique that I never had, and as I clean up everything about my posture and technique, I had slipped into trying to get every note perfect. To most of you out there this probably sounds like a good thing. Let me tell you why it’s not.

IF I’M EVER TO PLAY WITH EXTRAORDINARY EASE AND TECHNIQUE AND POSTURAL EASE, THEN I HAVE TO SURRENDER TO TOTALLY TRUSTING MY BODY TO HIT THE MARK WITH A GREATER PRECISION THAT I COULD EVER TRY TO ACCOMPLISH. When I guide my hands even a bit to guarantee perfect playing, then it ain’t going to happen, and I’m playing trying NOT to make a mistake.

This doesn’t work, will never work, and makes me miserable.

I HAVE TO TRUST MY HAND TO PLAY FLAWLESSLY AT THE HIGHEST PERFORMANCE LEVEL, AND WHEN THEY DON’T, RETURN TO WITHDRAWING ALL EFFORT TO GET IT RIGHT AND TRUST THEM EVEN MORE TO HIT THE MARK, AND THEY DO.

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