June 02, 2005 from Bob Loncar
I got the Principles DVD 1 and the Principles book almost a year ago. The number of revelations opened to me by your words and work is indescribable.
Practisinig in the manner described in your book and DVD greatly helps with
technique and the physical barriers to playing well. The level that has
been opened to me so far covers finger movement/body awareness, etc.
I must admit, that since doing no tempo
posing, slow tempo practice, etc.I have on occassion noticed that my
awareness of the time, rhythm and place in progression, has "magically" improved.
I truly appreciate
everything you have done for MY instrument in your quest for answers. I
feel in my heart that this is not just a "talent" thing, not something
unattainable by mere mortals such as myself. Thank you,
Your friend and devotee,
April 07, 2005 from Wes in the U.K.
Firstly can I just say a HUGE thank you. I bought your book and it has
helped me on so many levels. I have 'owned' a guitar for about 5 or 6
years but never really learned to play. I could play a few chords and a
few riffs but no complete songs really. I gave up and my guitar has just
collected dust for about 3 years.
Anyway, after reading your articles on your site...it was like you were talking to me!
The situations you explain all seemed to relate to problems
I had experienced. I just had to buy the book!
Since reading the book several times and in many different places (I take
it nearly everywhere with me, especially holidays). I have been given a
second chance....in fact you refueled my desire! So much so that i just
had to go out and buy myself a new Acoustic guitar!
THANKYOU THANKYOU THANKYOU :-)
12/04 from A.A. Nemeh from Helsinki
I must say, playing the principled way, relaxing, taking it step by step, concentrating, and MOSTLY Body Awareness is starting to REALLY sink in. I feel my fingers differently now than when I used to 4-5 months ago.
It's amazing, my inactive fingers stand relaxed and ready like an army, ready to execute my next order, it's simply breath taking, being able to play with such relaxation and confidence. I would like to thank your parents for having put you on amongst us.
Thank you ever so much and please keep enlightening us ever so much more!
All the best,
A.A from Helsinki.
One interesting class of student is the one who starts to play, does okay with the first couple of songs, and then begins to run into trouble as the difficulties mount, finding it impossible to make further progress. Although the student assumes it is a "lack of talent", it is not. It is a lack of a sound and correct approach to practicing, and a complete lack of a proper foundation.
Read about how Andy was saved from this all too common fate, and how you can be too (or avoid it in the first place!) Andy's Story..
I recently ordered your Principles- DVD, and now have studied it a couple of times...It is truly amazing!
I have played both the classical and the electric guitar for a couple of years, and developed quite fast (because of a great desire, and enjoyment of it).
But in doing so, my muscles have developed tensions, and pain. Then someone (who's never played an instrument himself before) told me that correct playing should be done through relaxation. I soon understood the importance of this, but there was one problem. I couldn't find anyone telling me HOW that could be accomplished!
As none of my (very skillful) guitar teachers could show me anything practical, I found myself with this confusing knowledge: "Try not to tense up, while pressing down a string,..."
Somehow I came across your homepage on the net, and decided to buy the DVD. It is probably the best investment I have made, since buying my guitars.
Those 'simple' movements have already improved my playing, and best of all; given me a tool to finally play without more tension and pain.
Thank you for that!
Annica from Sweden
I have been playing guitar for a few years, and recently, have began taking lessons, and practicing for hours at a time.
After going to lessons I still had a number of flaws in my playing. I practiced playing a major scale for a year and could never get through it smoothly and efficiently at a medium speed. When I practiced riffs, my fingers would consistently miss notes.
Then, I purchased your book a month ago, and it has already changed my playing dramatically. (I had to follow your teachings very thoroughly, practice very slowly, and use a metronome for your book to work --- but it does).
Muscles that I never knew existed have become alive and aware, and with some practice I am able to play passages flawlessly. My own guitar teacher never made me aware of my fingers, or how to control them.
The Principles has changed the way I look at the guitar and will shave off years of wasted practice time (this is especially important if you are 27, like myself).
The techniques force you to relax, and guide your hands and fingers into the correct playing positions.
I read 100's of files on the internet and your ideas and articles have always inspired me to try and become a better player. The Principles are eliminating my bad habits and I am now on the road to becoming an accomplished guitar player! Thank you for writing your book.
Just wanted to let you know I have now been playing guitar for just over
two years and about a year ago I purchased a copy of "THE PRINCIPLES".
I must admit, it took me some time to completely "give myself" to the things you were enforcing but I would like to say how glad I am that I did!!
It's like second nature for me to use the "Tools" and "Exercises" (probably because I "UNDERSTAND" the truth that lies in them!)
Prior to purchasing The "Principles", I had picked up a lesson book by Troy Stetina, (someone you hold in high regard).
I found that once The "Principles" were truly applied with attention and intention his lessons became easier and the problems I was having within those lessons were isolated, and addressed accordingly! (thanks especially to that little but powerful tool you call "posing").
I continue to improve and develop on the guitar but most of all I have "FUN" as I WORK toward getting better. Thanks again for all of your insight and commitment to helping so many of us see the light in a world blanketed by so much darkness these days!
(future owner of "THE PATH")
I just wanted write to you with some more detailed observations about your new book, Level One: Chords and Rhythm. I started guitar lessons 2 years ago at the age of 44 after having never played an instrument in my life. I floundered around during the first year with several different teachers where I didn't really learn anything of lasting value except a cursory ability to read music.
Even though I have the desire, attention, and intention to learn to be a musician, one of my biggest stumbling blocks has been my inability to practice chords and strumming along to songs, because I found this too boring.
I can now admit to the real reason that I didn't play chords. My previous teachers never told me that they were hard and that I could not learn a bunch of new chord changes between our weekly lessons (before moving on to the next set of chords for the next weekly lesson).
They made me feel inferior and stupid that I didn't "get it." I didn't really understand rhythms. I was not born with a sense of rhythm, nor any natural talent for playing guitar -- just a love of music. However, after reading your new book "The GuitarPrinciples Path: Level One Chords & Rhythm" and working with it for the past 30 days, I can tell you that I now know that smooth chord changes and a sense of rhythm can be developed and that it is hard to do for many people, not just the "stupid ones."
I am finally, after two years of training to play a guitar, getting better at my first few chords: G, Em, C, D. I am also improving at reading and strumming along to different rhythms, including syncopated rhythms and 16th notes (which are quite challenging for me).
I've also come to another epiphany over the last 30 days of working with your new book. Music, and the ability to play music, comes down to chords and a good sense of rhythm whether I'm strumming, picking out melodies, playing classical pieces, or playing a lead on an electric guitar. I've gone back to the melodies that I'm learning in Mel Bay's Book 1 and looked at them as a series of chord changes, not just a sequence of notes. Wow! This has changed the entire way that I approach learning and playing these songs.
I am having lots of fun, and your new book has given me a new fervor for learning to be a musician.
Thank you for always admitting that playing a guitar is hard to do, but anyone can learn to do it if they have the have desire, attention, and awareness. I'd also add they need to read and adhere to your methods that you've detailed in both books- The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar and Level One: Chords and Rhythm. I'm waiting for Level Two: ... so that I'll understand where to go next! I sure hope that you're working on it!!
I got "The Principles" about a month ago and have been very
busy working with them but I had to stop to write and make some comments. With great knowledge comes great sorrow, and as I turned the pages of your book, I realized that I had been missing out on critical ways of thinking about the "playing mechanism" for years, and that I was stuck at a plateau for the last several years because I was trying to "fight" my way to better technique rather than relax into it.
Of course this feeling also meant that I was receiving Great Knowledge, so my sorrow passed and I became a believer. The hints that were given on the website were really born out in the book. The whole vibe of "The Principles" is great for disarming players, even ones who have been playing for many years such as myself, and getting them to just think critically about how they're practicing.
What I find happening as a result of thinking about relaxing and implementing some of the tools (Posing is by far the most powerful for me) is that my left hand has become much more relaxed, my fingers are hovering closer to the fretboard as I play, moving more independently, and my legato technique is becoming very "liquid". I mean very noticeable in a month!
Now there are times, since I keep "The Principles" out while I'm
practicing from other books, when I spend much more time just holding the shape of notes that I want to play lightly and relaxing, letting my fingers, hand, arm, shoulder, body relax into being stretched to the shape while I alternate between floating my arm and then making it heavy and squeezing the notes of the shape out. The "bang for the buck" is amazing because it seems to be bleeding into all areas of my playing.
A friend/musician who I respect runs a studio. He told me recently he noticed "something different" about my playing. I showed him "The Principles" right before the band went into the studio.
When I came out about half an hour later, he was sitting in the sound room strumming his guitar with "Extreme Attention". The book was open to that page in the office. We spent the whole breakdown talking about how your approach gives the missing ingredient in how to "fix problems" that no
other book pays enough attention to.
When I thought about it some more, I realized that the approach is very similar to what I was taught about striking in martial arts classes. To throw a fast punch, you must relax your forearm, upper arm and shoulder while keeping your fist tight. If you tense those arm muscles, you can't snap a punch out and back quickly because the tension acts as an opposing force. Those same tensions play against you in the mechanics of guitar playing.
Many books I've used in the past had small sections about
technique and they talked about staying loose and practicing slowly, but "The Principles" answers fully the questions that I've asked for years and only gotten partial answers about. "The Principles" doesn't just say "play
lightly", it codifies the things, including specific exercises, that need to be done to play with a lighter touch.
Although I've managed to play fast and cleanly at times through sheer "forcing" of my fingers, I'm making far better progress now by what I call "making a maximum effort to make no effort at all". No more white knuckles for me!
Most players I know have, like myself, played for many years and gotten very good but are amazed at the seemingly effortless, slinky hand motions of the top technical players and wondered how they do it. "The Principles" first broke down my mind's resistance to how I looked at mechanics, and now it is helping to break through all the unnoticed (or rather, ignored) tensions that have blocked my fingers from playing at the next level.
I'll always keep your book open, no matter what else I'm practicing. Even when working on things from other sources it's like having a master standing next to you at the dojo whose presence keeps you mindful of all the things he's taught you.
Thanks for writing "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar". I am a brand new (two months old) guitar student, and the book has been extremely helpful to me in some very specific ways.
I am 55 years old, have been a trombone player for 43 years, playing jazz as a weekend warrior. I have wanted to start learning to play jazz on the guitar, and have been encouraged by the guitarist in one of my bands, who has turned out to be my teacher.
I was mostly self taught on trombone, and only within the last few years learned about the impact of body tension on performance. I have many bad habits, it turns out, which limit my facility on my horn. When starting guitar I was hoping I could get off on the right foot, and not spend time practicing mistakes. Your book has been great.
Although I do not think of myself as particularly gifted with coordination, the no tempo practicing, posing, and really paying attention to each movement, have helped me progress in this early phase of learning fingerings, scales, chords etc.
Most important is how your approach has helped me mentally. I am over the anxiety about being too old to learn this instrument.
I have been able to give up, most of the time, my old interest in hurrying to master the ax. Instead, I spend a lot of time in each session paying attention to my body, relaxing, and letting go of the surprising amount of tension which seems to want to creep in. The rotating attention is also helping my bone playing. In fact, this rotation of attention seems so helpful I am recommending it to my therapy clients as a technique for them developing awareness of stress held in the body.
I'm having a great time, and am looking forward to 25 years plus of guitar playing.
I am using "The Principles" book as a text book (...the only mandatory one I currently require for my students). I am testing them by asking them to explain to me each "Tool" and "Understanding" section in their own words, because if they understand why this works, they are more likely to use it right away.
I also do small "experiments" by having them play a short passage or lick and then practice it in your "no tempo" mode, for example, and they can immediately sense the difference.
One of my more advanced guitar students who just won first prize in his high school jazz band in Maryland- in a national competition (in Chicago's Northeastern University) was playing a rather sloppy pentatonic 4 note lick.
I put him through The Principles no tempo practice" for about 2 minutes with varying pick pressures and attacks. Immediately, he was playing it with "Pat Martino" clarity and needs just to get up a little in tempo.
The jump in articulation was dramatic and immediate. Because I "forced" him to slow down, his brain could actually scan the motions that were missing and fill in the missing data.
I explained to him that if you slow down enough and practice in sections, you don't make mistakes, and you relax
because you know you can handle it; therefore you don't get tense.
Most of all, the point is that it is an absurdity to command your brain to play something it does not yet know. It needs to analyze and memorize very complex sensory and motor/ spatial data before it can execute it.
As you have clearly stated in the book your fingers don't have the ability to know or guess your real intentions, they don't read your mind. They operate as a computer does, based on what you input during you practice sessions.
Thank you for writing The Principles and continued success to you.
I received your book 4 days ago and am now using your methods- less strain more gain. Already, I know what has to be done in order to improve on my practice techniques.
By the way if you remember the email I sent regarding pains in my elbow, well you will be pleased though probably not surprised to hear that the problem has practically gone away !!
I do the Foundation Exercises with the emphasis on being totally relaxed and being aware of where to find the method to induce the feeling required.
I'll keep in touch periodically but for now, many thanks and I will recommend your book to anyone who will listen.
Regards and good wishes,
I got my book just two days ago and ever since I have been reading it, I have been laughing out loud nearly every paragraph, with absolute delight.
Every mistake I have ever made is in your book. So I am approaching things as an absolute beginner even though I have played for many years.
I haven't even picked up my guitar since getting your book and I already think it was well worth the cost.
One recommendation: Make a video!! It would go so well with the book to actually see you applying your techniques. The pictures are great but live action would be even better. I'd buy it in a heartbeat!
Thanks again and I'll drop you a line as soon I get around to actually picking up the guitar, but it's so difficult to put the book down.
I saw the newsletter about the July 6th Workshop that I attended and all the praise that you gave to my technique. Well, I'd say that it was simply a demonstration of how powerful your book is that I've been working with, particularly the "Crutches" and "Butterflies".
No doubt, your book is a revolution in guitar learning techniques and I'm just thrilled these days with the thought that I'm one of those fortunate guys who started learning guitar with your revolutionary method.
The New York workshop was a great help to me, especially for my right hand. It was always difficult to visualize the sequence of correct movements of a rest/free stroke, just by reading (even though you have gone to extremes while detailing them in the book). But, now I know exactly what a rest stroke is, and a free stroke, and the proper way to perform it.
Also, meeting such a variety of players, and gaining from their skills and knowledge was a really great experience.
I've just joined the Mel Bay group on your site, and am working on the 1st-String Etude on page 8, something which appears soooo.. simple now. Probably I'd have never even bothered to work on it if I was not aware of "The Principles." But, now I know how important it is to practice this small piece with "Correct Practice".
Many many thanks for providing these revolutionary Understandings/ Tools/ and Exercises in learning the
guitar. I'm just wondering what the guitar world was without "The Principles" a few years back....
I bought your book in January 2002 and read it through entirely a couple of times. I am from France (South East) and am a beginner player. I often read and re-read particular sections depending on the issue or problem I have with a new or existing passage.
I have to say that your book has completely changed my view on learning guitar and music. It has given me more enthusiasm about the guitar and has removed a lot of the frustration I had in the past. Basically, before reading your book I thought that learning guitar was about talent and practicing as much as I could until I got the passage right. So from time to time. I could play a passage well and at other times I made lots of basic mistakes such as missing the string.
When I worked with your slow and "no tempo" practice I realize that I did not know my fingers very well! It might sound funny but from time to time I would pose in a chord position and ask myself: can you lift the ring finger without moving the other one? Surprisingly, I am amazed that the index moves instead of the ring finger. It is only with attention that you speak about in your book, that I got it right. This happens with new chords and especially, with chords requesting 4 fingers like C9b.
Your book also, makes a good emphasis about attention and intention. In fact this is something we do instantly when we are kids and forgot about while life goes by. So again, since I am practicing using your "Principles" and especially paying attention to each finger's position, this has improved my playing ability, greatly.
I would now really like to find a teacher in France who knows about your teaching "Principles" as my teacher is focusing more on playing than learning. In other words he plays what I can't and then tells me to practice more! Thank you for your book, Jamie!
I've had your book for a few months now...and thought that I'd drop you a note to let you know what effect your publication has had upon my playing.
Before I begin, it might be helpful for you to know a little about me. I've been playing for roughly 20 years. I took formal lessons for the first three to four years. Over the past 16 years, I've largely been "self-taught"-(books...recordings...videos, etc.). I've played acoustic and electric...played in bands...and worked as a solo artist.
Most people might think that after playing guitar for 20 years, I'd be able to spot "trouble" areas...easily. Not so! After reading Chapter One, I discovered that I was experiencing a significant amount of pain when playing certain passages. In conjunction with this I also learned that what you call "muscle memory" has HUGE impact on the way we play.
After taking a close look at my playing, I discovered something that I learned 18 years ago was causing me all kinds of grief "today". Way back when...I was learning a relatively
simple song called "Spanish Romance". The way that my teacher then taught me to play a specific bar had "trickled" into other aspects of my playing.
Rather than taking the time to figure out a "better" way to play that passage, I had simply forced my fingers to do something that they didn't want to do! Thanks to your book...I've corrected that specific problem!
Interestingly enough, at the same time that I purchased your book...I also bought your CD "Touched To My Tenderness". Coincidentally, the second song on the CD happens to be "Romance" (the same song that I mentioned in the
earlier paragraph)! Imagine my surprise when I discovered the connection! The way that you played this song is nothing short of incredible. The tone...brilliant. The dynamics that you employ are breathtaking. In fact, the entire album is great.
Anway...thanks for sharing your musical discoveries!
I just wanted to praise you on such a great learning tool... thanks for all the insight and the wonderful book!!!! I got a guitar for Christmas in 2000. For the first year or so, I just played around with it looking up tab and "playing" what I found. But for some reason I could not play as well as the original composer of the music!
So I found your website while searching the Internet for guitar sites to start a serious learning process. I read a lot, if not all of the testimonials on your site. I thought to myself, if there are this many people praising this guy for what he wrote in a book, and it has tremendously helped them to play the guitar...I need to get it. So I ordered your book in the winter of 2001, and was very pleased at how fast it arrived.
I understand that patience is an absolute necessity if you want to play the guitar, and play it well. So I practiced everyday for awhile and found myself to be one of those people that needs to be shown what to practice, along with "The Principles", so I am now working with a guitar teacher. I am very pleased to say that with the teacher giving me things to practice, and then practicing them using the exercises you have created, I have progressed as a player very rapidly in the past 2 months.
I, myself, have noticed the progress. Now, I'm practicing at least 2 hours a night after work!! That is something I never did before. Also, I'm slowing down and concentrating on what I am doing wrong and correcting it. I want to thank you personally for such a great book, that is easy to understand and applies to everything in life... not just the guitar.
I have turned many people to your website so that they could see what I am talking about. Many thanks for the great book, the essential practice tools, and your wonderful website that I visit at least 3 times a week. I am getting better and better and look forward to reading more from you and progressing to my next level as a player.
Thanks for all that you do!!!
Thank you VERY much for sending the book so quickly. I received it last week and read it from cover to cover. I can't begin to tell you how much it has helped me already. I've been playing for about 10 years and most of the time felt like I was banging my head off a brick wall. "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar" will increase/expedite my development as a guitarist ten-fold.
Please accept my gratitude, the book is fantastic!!!
I ordered "The Principles" back in the fall of 2001 and I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get this email out to you.
First of all, let me tell you a bit about myself: I am not the eternally struggling student that your Q&A sessions seem to deal with. I have been playing for 17 years and hold a BM in jazz guitar performance and I feel that I've always done pretty well, thank you very much.
I had been working on improving my fingerstyle technique and repertoire when an internet search uncovered your essay, "Changing from Guitar Student to Guitar Player: The Importance of Having a Repertoire" at staffordguitar.com, and I just couldn't believe how well thought out and well written your ideas were.
As I progressed to the guitar principles site and read several more of your essays and responses to student's questions I was really excited by what I had found because like yourself, I have a love of teaching.
Currently I am teaching 28 private students each week and I'm looking to expand the time I have available for teaching. The biggest thing that I am getting from "The Principles" is how to improve my teaching and get better results from my students.
As I'm sure you have seen with your own students, introducing even a single one of your concepts into a pre-existing lesson seems to instantly change the students idea of what they need to do and how to do it.
I think the understanding part of each tool and exercise is a big part of what's missing from most approaches. Some of the concepts in "The Principles" are not new, but the difference is in how clearly you have put them all together, leaving nothing to chance. And of course, as one grows as a musician, the book's depth grows too. Needless to say I have been using " The Principles" in my own practice sessions. Great job!
Now for the question and suggestion. I can't be the only teacher out here incorporating " The Principles" into my teaching, so I'm wondering if there is a principles network of guitar teachers. If there isn't one there really should be. Ideally, I would like to see an email list setup rather than a chat room or message board, but in any format it should be a vehicle for guitar teachers to exchange ideas and ask for advice on their challenging students.
It might also be useful for students who are using the book on their own to know where there are teachers who are enlightened to this approach can be found. Let me know about the guitar teacher network idea, you'd think there would be a list out there already (Principled or not) but I haven't found it.
Using your book, "The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar", I have nailed a lick in two days that I gave up on two years ago!
It's the finger tapping intro from Mr Big's 'Green Tinted Sixties Mind' at 102 bpm.
I used the " play two -three -touch" approach in your book, and it worked wonders. I made another test and found a fingerstyle lick that was pretty tricky and I nailed that in 1 hour.
"The Principles" is the best investment a guitarist can make.
I'm going to start promoting your book by word of mouth here in Canberra.
All the best
PS your CD is Fantastic. Your such a good player, you make the music feel good.
First, thanks for the book. I showed it to my teacher, Steve Bondy, who earned his MA in guitar from the University of Denver under Iznaola, and he was very impressed. One of his comments was that it was in some respects a very detailed and precise treatment of topics that Iznaola also treats, but in much more general terms.
If you know Iznaola's students, and the reverence in which they hold him, that's probably the highest praise imaginable, (insofar as pedagogy of the guitar is concerned). He said he
would recommend it to all of his students.
Personally, I have found your book very helpful, and I mean this by an objective standard: my playing is improving, and is a lot easier. More for less!
This means a great deal to me; more perhaps than I can express.
Thank you again. You are an admirable teacher and thinker--and since I'm a school principal, I know whereof I speak.
This is the second time I have written. I thought that I needed to write again to express the importance, to guitar players, of what is taught on this site and in your book.
In two short months, since applying "The Principles", my playing has improved by leaps and bounds after trying so hard unsuccessfully for the past 30 plus years.
Practice is no longer a chore; as a matter of fact, it is now difficult for me to stop a practice session. I feel a sense of satisfaction, relaxation and euphoria during and after each practice session.
To those out there who are contemplating buying your book - BUY IT. After you receive it READ IT CONTINUALLY, not just once. Practice as you normally would but learn the method taught in "The Principles" and repeatedly access yourself during practice to see if you are sticking to "The Principles".
If you are not, make the necessary changes so that you are applying "The Principles". Don't be selective, read the book and apply All of the techniques taught not just the ones you feel are important - They are all important - trust me. Watching yourself play in a mirror is most important because you don't have to bend forward to see if you are playing properly. Mirrors allow the player to watch the fingers with no disruption to the attention required to learn how to practice.
The barriers to good playing which once haunted me are gone and I still have only managed to incorporate some of "The Principles", I am gradually adding more with each practice session.
I suggest that those who are achieving limited success are those who are making limited use of the things which you teach. I still have a long way to go to achieve my goals with the guitar, but I finally have the tools which are necessary to get there.
Have you ever watched great guitarists? They looked so relaxed. It all looks so easy. That's because it IS, once you understand the importance of how to practice, it will become easy for you too.
I picked up the guitar more than 5 months ago and engaged the services of a teacher. After a total of 4 months of weekly paid lessons I found that I had not progressed one iota and knew that there must be another method.
I was practicing diligently daily with no signs of progress. I purchased a copy of your book in October and just gave it a quick glance. Meanwhile, I continued with my weekly lessons. Again, I was not having any progress so I resolved to return to your book with renewed vigor.
My teacher soon noticed the changes and wanted to know if I had engaged the services of another teacher! I then turned him on to the "The Principles".
My progress has been steady and measurable since I have been using the book religiously. What my teacher was doing was loading me up with all these different chords without any regard to technique. He felt that I was going to "get it " eventually. Your book has taught me that "getting it" is not a hit and miss affair but rather a concerted effort of learning and ensuring that you "get it" and then keeping it with constant practice until all "The Principles" become second nature.
Thanks a lot Jamie! Waiting for other great books from you.