She admits to being obsessed with guitar playing. Totally, Jamie Andreas speaks of it with great passion, she’s almost bursting with an explosion of technical information she’s been imparting to students for the last 36 years.
She’s got the stuff. Her website guitarprinciples.com outlines the method; her book “The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar”, fills in the details.
She’s not teaching fundamental music, though she can, but it’s more about the technical aspects of the mechanics of playing- how to hold the guitar, how to hold your hands, how to connect with and touch the strings and understanding the spaces between. “Without knowing the correct body mechanics and laws of motor control learning, 95 percent of all players will be building in handicaps right from the beginning.
We’re sitting in Maria’s Bazaar on a late weekday afternoon, and she’s holding her right arm across her body, simulating a guitar neck and fingering chords and scales on the back of her wrist and up her forearm. She says she started playing at age 14 with local lessons from a jazz teacher, and practiced five hours a day.
Today, after playing for 40 years, she’s quite accomplished, the real deal. She takes out a Martin Triple-O model and plays a beautiful composition of hers, a fingerstyle piece with elements of classical and folk music, using positions up and down the neck. Her video shows her in a variety of styles from classical to playing a screaming lead electric guitar, so, yes, she can play!
“When someone can’t learn to play it’s because of the physical aspect”, she reiterates. “I do teach musical aspects but people come to me because of what I can do that no one else can do, which is to enable anyone who wants to play. People who get stuck, even those who’ve played for 30 years, I can show them why they’re stuck and what to do about it.”
Her diagnostic outreach has gotten a big boost from the internet.
“I’m doing webcam lessons now; I just did one with a student in Maine. In the beginning students were traveling from Europe, mostly. Now the internet impact is huge.”
Andreas taught around the NYC area and wrote her book in 1998, taking it around to stores herself, and getting the likes of Barnes and Noble to carry it.
“Then the internet started. I put together a small website. I remember getting my first check from Louisiana, and I realized that this was going to change my world”, she says.What else is this very focused woman into? “Well, I’m mostly obsessed with guitar.” Other obsessions? “ Reading , thinking, writing music. I have just a few guitars…this Martin, my hand made classical, a 12-string Taylor , an electric, but I’m not that interested in the gear. I’m interested in the emotional aspect of playing and in teaching the technical aspects of playing. Once you unlock the technical business, it’s like being able to talk, you develop it…”
++ Brian Hollander