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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Failure and Beyond

I’ve failed.

There, I said it. And I don’t like it. But it is what it is.

I’m moving on to other things. Currently, I’m trying to learn one piece in which I do everything as perfectly as I can. No cutting corners, and no settling for “close enough.” I want to play the piece exactly as I hear it in my head. And when I get there, I plan to make a recording and write up a detailed study guide for the piece. So that’s my new project.

By the way, I’m surprised to find that I also have a left hand. Who knew?

Perhaps all isn’t lost in my quest for right hand speed. But it’s clear my problems are too fundamental to be solved piecemeal. Rather, I must begin at the beginning, and that’s where my new project starts. By rebuilding my playing bit by bit, I may actually improve my right hand speed. I’m simply not focusing solely on speed. I just want to get back to learning and playing music. My right hand will either improve or it won’t.

Nonetheless, “Building A Better Right Hand” shouldn’t fizzle out with no ending. It needs an epilog. Below is a brief summary of what I feel are the most important posts of this blog. Others might pick up the baton and take it farther. I hope my experience helps.

These first two posts I regard as the most important things I learned during my project:

The Brass Tacks of Technique
As early as, possible, every guitar student should be taught something like this.

Training the Musical Pooch
An overview of how to cultivate speed.

These next five posts touch on concepts important to developing a relaxed technique:

Calibrating Tension
Pianissimo Man
Light Speed
The importance of gradually parsing tension when building speed.

Rethinking Speed Bursts
Speed bursts are often recommended as a way of developing speed. Maybe they shouldn’t.

The Nitty-Gritty
A discussion of “micro-breaks.”

The irony of thinking I have something to say about speed when I can’t do speed isn’t lost on me. But in finding a worthwhile approach, attention must be paid to those who can’t do speed. After all, who better is there to define the dimensions of the problem? Those who can often don’t adequately fathom those who can’t. If nothing else, my experience may point to a better way.

Progress is often built on the wreckage of failure. I’ll never be the statue. But there’s something to being the pedestal.


Anonymous said...

Very honest.

I'd like to share with you some secrets. Things that you should try, if you're willing and open enough.
Do yourself a favour, try changing hand-position, nail-length, nail-shape(!) and stroke .

Grow your nails, then shape them like this and this
Then when playing, do NOT hold your hand such that the fingers are at 90 degrees to the strings (cramped bent wrist), but keep your wrist fairly straight (leading to fingers being at an angle to the strings).
Rest your thumb lightly on the D-string (for stability), and play freestroke on the b-string. This freestroke should not be an average tirando, but needs to change to allow control and beautiful tone. Work on it: not by using the "dumb-repetition-bootcamp-manner of training", but instead by listening and adjusting your: hand, fingers, stroke-length, etc.

How should the freestroke go? Touch the string with the left-hand side of a nail (lets say m-finger; needs to be a long nail). When moving the finger, the string glides along the light curvature nail, until it is released at the nails tip. (This needs to be one fluent easy lightweight motion. It also requires a very finely filed fingernail)
(Due to a long nail, you need freestroke.)
This image shows the angle of the fingers and which side of the nail first touches the string.

Remember: your main focus needs to be: beautiful tone and comfort of fingers and hand.

Anonymous said...

(Also note: your fingernail should not be symmetrical in shape. Therefore its maximum length should also not be at the center).

Good luck.