Principles of Practice
Based on "The Principles of Correct
Practice for Guitar"
by Jamie Andreas
Oct. 5 2003, 2000 Volume 126
Work Smart (then hard!!)
I can't think of an area of life where the old adage "work smart, not hard" applies more than it does in guitar technique. In fact, as stated in our Principles DVD, Part 2 , where the extra footage includes a summary of ALL The Principles in statement form, Principles #4 states:
" Playing is the application of force to the strings through the process of movement. Our goal is to create the sound through the balanced and appropriate use of passive and active resources in applying force to the strings. "
"Passive Resources" in playing terms includes the use of weight, and it is the application of this Principle that we are going to examine, as I describe to you how I recently solved a technical problem for a student.
The problem occurred in a piece from the "FingerStyle Blues Camp" (produced by Truefire, and covering all the basic techniques used in the style). I am sure that this particular left hand change causes a problem for many students using this resource, so I thought it would be a good idea to let you know about it.
It occurs on the change to the V chord in a blues, but, as with most of what we deal with here, the fundamentals apply across the board to technique in all styles. So, no matter what style you play, you would be wise to check it out!
Go to lesson....... .
Hmmm....that sounds familiar!!!!
Excerpts from an interview with Grandmaster John Mclaughlin,....
Q: How much do you practice?
|Grandmaster John McLaughlin, Principled Player!
A: Ideally about six or seven hours a day.
(after describing various aspects of practicing, and how he keeps searching
for ways to expand his abilities by finding things he can't do, and then working
hours, days or months to master them, he sums it up)
......It's just a successive
imposition of greater and greater discipline, because this is the only way one
can grow-continuous mastery over one's own inabilities.
Q: Do you follow the rule that "slow is fast", that is, that
something very slowly is the way to develop speed?
A: Yes, sure. I mean, you can't just jump in there- especially if it's a
(describing a working with Miles Davis)....."He's amazing to work
with........Once he told me "play like you don't know how to play the guitar".
Other choice thoughts and insights.....
"To a certain degree one adapts to one's own technique, but, on the other
hand, one must adapt ones' technique to the idea. This is the very fundamental
crux of it: technique should be a dynamically evolving state. To tend to play
continuously beyond you will truly help achieve a dynamic state of evolving
"Fingering is probably the big key to unlocking technique; it is crucial. For
example, some of the are very long, complex melodies, and some of them
were extremely difficult. Sometimes I spend not just hours but days and weeks
on different fingerings to discover the right one, because I believe there is a
right fingering for everything, if you just take the time to discover it."
Importance of Fingering" if you haven't already).
Yes, here you have a little peek inside the kind of mind and character that
breeds excellence as a guitarist and musician. Many of the statements contain a
world of wisdom, wisdom which while hinted at, remains worlds away from the
average guitarist. These deep insights are brought within your reach by a
consistent study of The Principles (and all the writings on GuitarPrinciples).
The Difference Between Stupid & Ignorant!
Don't Let This Happen To You!
Any thoughtful person eventually comes to realize that when someone gives their opinion on something, they are saying just as much, or more, about themselves than about they subject upon which they are speaking. In fact, sometimes, they are saying nothing
about the subject upon which they are speaking, but are only revealing themselves.
|Ignorance is no crime, holding on to it is......
We get reactions all the time here at GuitarPrinciples to the work we do, and each reaction reveals the depth of the person reacting, and the depth of their involvement with what they have chosen to comment on.
Sometimes, when people comment on our work, they give a very forceful opinion
even though they have NO involvement, or knowledge of The Principles! I always love to hear what is on people's mind, except when that mind is so small and shallow that it can only make knee-jerk reactions to things which it actually knows nothing about, but thinks that it does. This is very annoying because these people are asking me to give my precious time to the value of their words, and yet they have not given any time to the value of their words!
I have no problem with ignorance, in fact, I am in the ignorance
business! Ignorance means "I don't know something". To be a student is by
definition to be ignorant, to not know something, to be "empty". What we do here
is to provide knowledge to those that don't have it. What I have a severe
problem with, though, is stupidity. "Stupidity" is the willful maintenance of
ignorance. The stupid person says "I don't know, but I am going to tell myself I
do, and I am going to act like I do, because I don't really care whether I do or
not. And it certainly will not prevent me from speaking authoritatively on the
"Stupidity" is antithetical to learning, by definition, the
stupid person cannot learn, which is why we do not deal with stupid people at
GuitarPrinciples. In fact, from time to time, I have to actually tell the
occasional stupid person who wanders by "don't buy my book, it won't do you any
good!". This e-mail the other day ( in reaction to a recent newsletter with ads
for The Principles) let me know it was one of those times......
"I love this rap. I have been playing for years and have a
large collection of books that allege to offer "the answer." It's almost like
the magic diet. But you know what? This answer is simple. TALENT and PRACTICE.
Lots of practice. Keep playing daily. Your way. And if you don't have the talent
forget it or accept your limited abilities.
Your claim to success gives you a classic "out." It's the same
in psychiatry - "I will change the patient ONLY IF THE PATIENT IS WILLING TO
CHANGE." For instance: CUSTOMER: "I bought your book and six months later I'm
just the same player I was. How come? YOUR ANSWER: "Ah, but you were NOT REALLY
WILLING TO CHANGE sir. So, the responsibility for your fate is yours. Here's an
offer. GIVE ME YOUR BOOK FOR FREE. I'll use it and tell you honestly if it is
indeed "the book" (which I am sure it isn't). "
Oh boy, he really got me!
Now, I don't know if this person is salvageable or not.
Apparently, he (yes, of course this is a he, with all the attendant male
bluster), has played for many years, has many books, and many
frustrations. Also, apparently, he has decided to base his attitudes on the
various erroneous beliefs he cherishes, such as "talent and practice is the
answer"! As someone who has seen hundreds of talented people putting in loads of
practice time and getting nowhere during my 31 years of teaching, I probably am
safe in assuming I know more about this than my critic. And because I know more,
(in fact, I know the truth), I want to warn any of you out there who may be
prone to the same mistaken beliefs and attitudes held by this person. My advice:
save yourselves!;---if you really care to play well, that is.
These words, in particular, are very sad: "And
if you don't have the talent forget it or accept your limited abilities. "
All anyone has to do is read the reports of people who write in our forum
everyday, who, unlike the self assured yet completely ignorant writer, actually
have and use The Principles. No one has to take my word for it when it comes to
deciding whether to investigate The Principles, and whether or not what I say is
true. But, something tells me that this person is not interested in discovering
a truth that is perhaps contrary to their self assured "knowledge". No, they are
more interested in feeling like they are a little too smart to fall for that "I
have the answer" crap that we so proudly proclaim at GuitarPrinciples.
The rest of us who have discovered the power of the practice
methods, and the deep understandings about the truth of acquiring ability, yes,
even talent, will happily continue to get better, and closer to our dreams,
every day. Those who decide to stay stuck in the prison of their limiting
beliefs, and smugly surrender to them daily, will, I suppose, "accept their
limited abilities", and perhaps "forget it" (shudder!).
Yes, the claims we make are hard to believe, and skepticism is
quite understandable, especially when we all do know how it feels to be daily
bombarded with stupid and insulting ads and claims that take our money and give
us nothing but a bitter learning experience. But, how many products do you know
of that make it possible to actually speak to hundreds of people, in real time,
who are seeing those amazing claims become real for them every day? Anyone can
do that with The Principles by simply visiting the forum. Go in there and ask
"do The Principles really work?", and see what happens!
Or, ask yourself another question. Ask yourself, "why do people
come from half way around the world to study with Jamie, and then say they are
glad they did"? Are they deluded? Do I hypnotize them? Like the people in the forum, we are not making this stuff up,
it is there on the web site for all to see. Asking questions like this, and
taking in information that may be contrary to our present belief systems, is
what is called "being reasonable", it is using the power of reason for personal
growth, which is a wonderful quality possessed by humans (who want it) that I am
a big fan of.
We can either practice reason and rationality, or we can make
stupidity our preferred method. I suggest rationality. If for no other reason
than this: stupidity, without a doubt, is the most expensive thing in the world!
There is nothing you will ever find, in this life, that will cost you more than
holding on to, and using, your stupidity! Principled Players know that the best
way to actually learn all the stuff in all the other books and materials they
buy is to use The Principles to do that. Many cannot learn at all until they
learn to use The Principles.
I have to give the writer high marks for "most creative way to
scam a free book", but nonetheless, even if I wanted him to have my book (which
I don't), he would have to pay for it. And no, "willingness to change" is not
the condition upon which success with The Principles depends, it is simply
USING them. A more appropriate analogy than his (characteristically) stupid
analogy would be this: if you go to the doctor with your disease, and he gives
you the medicine, you must actually TAKE the medicine in order to see results!
In any case, if I wasted a book on this boob, I am sure the author of these
insightful words "I'll use it and tell you honestly if
it is indeed "the book" (which I am sure it isn't) can be depended upon to
give a competent and open minded assessment!
I guess I am getting spoiled by the high quality of people we
usually get at GuitarPrinciples. When I come across someone like this, I can
only think (to quote Chris Rock) "they still make people like you!".
If you are a person sincerely interested in growth as a guitarist,
and you are jaded by the usual advertising assaults, I
suggest that you open yourself up to a wonderful possibility, the possibility
that once in while, something that sounds too good to be true, actually IS true!
Personally, I have found in my life, every once in a while this is the case, a
miracle manages to happen down here on the little planet Earth amidst all the
usual dreadful stuff!
And for those who have already seen the miracle that The
Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar can perform in your guitar playing
life, I will tell you this: you ain't seen nothin' yet!!
Q&A: Walking Exercises
Jamie recommends 1 & 4, 1& 3 , 1 & 2. Three sets in all.
I've seen an instructional video that recommends a version of the ladders
exercise, but suggests all possible two finger combinations i.e. he would also
go on to include 2&3, 3&4, and 2&4.
He also then suggests a diagonal version i.e. place 1 on 6th then 4 on 5th ,1 on
4th ,4 on 3rd etc.
What are the pros & cons of doing all the combinations?
Please do not think that because I approach left hand training with these
particular finger combinations (1-4, 1-3, 1-2) that it means there is no value
in other combinations!
What it means is that these are the combinations that the beginning or otherwise
developing guitarist should, in fact, must, learn to execute with skill before
it makes any sense to DO any other combinations. Remember, The Principles is a
comprehensive approach that is designed with one purpose in mind: to provide a
strong and complete foundation of guitar technique, mentally and physically,
that can be built upon throughout a lifetime. And so, all the knowledge and
skills that must compose that foundation are what you will find there. I felt it
was my responsibility to present these in The Principles. Everyone must
understand that it is not possible, nor was it my intention to cover every
possible thing that is worthwhile to learn on guitar!
ANY finger combination is worthwhile to practice. There is a world of things
that happen when you practice a 2 and 3 combination for the left hand. But there
is no use in practicing it unless the balance of the outer perimeter of the left
hand has been established, as it is in the exercises given in The Principles.
And, there is no sense in practicing ANYTHING unless you know a practice method
that enables you to train and develop the left hand in a way that does not build
in tension and all the evils that follow, in the hand and the rest of the body,
which is what actually does happen for the majority of guitar students. The
Principles provides that method. And so, the necessarily holistic approach of
The Principles cannot cover every possible permutation of fingering formulas.
After you can perform the walking exercises I give up to at least 60bpm in
16ths, feel free to explore other finger combinations. We must keep enough
variety in our practice to make it interesting, and to progressively cover all
the many skills we need.
I do hope to get to everything in time! Until then, please feel free to be
guided by common sense, and your growing understanding of guitar technique.
material copyright © 2003 by Jamie Andreas, GuitarPrinciples.com