July 12, 2019

Guitar Habits 1

Form First, Then Movement

No matter what field of activity, if it is done with your body you are going to find that the best training teaches you form before anything else. If you take dance lessons, they will teach you to stand correctly and imagine a string pulling you from the chest. If you study golf, they will teach you how to stand, how to hold the club, and how to keep the lower body from moving with the upper body during your swing. 

I could go on and on. The point is that you can't move correctly unless the all the parts of your body that contribute to that movement are in exactly the right position and relation to each other before and during the movement. 

This means that all body parts are in a position that gives balance and leverages muscle power and body weight to give maximum ergonomic advantage. To put it simply, when the form is right, movement is easy and you will perform at the top level of your ability. 

What About Guitar?

Why is all of this completely left out of guitar training? Why is that when someone learns guitar, all they are told is "hold the guitar comfortably and put your fingers on these strings", or something like that! The fact is, no beginner knows how to hold the guitar comfortably, and they certainly don't know how to place a finger on a string in a relaxed way that does not tense up the rest of the body. 

There  is so much more information necessary to play guitar without struggle, it is simply malpractice to allow anyone to learn guitar without knowing the critical facts about exactly how a finger must touch a string, or how the hands must be positioned when practicing and playing. 

Aspects of Form That MUST Be Correct On Guitar

1. How you hold the guitar when you practice

2. Keeping enough curl in the left hand finger as it touches the string

3. Preventing unused fingers from tensing while using another finger

4. Learning to pick from the elbow first, not the wrist or forearm

5. Keeping shoulders down and relaxed while fingers work

In my many decades of teaching, I have seen thousands of people who struggle to play and are stuck on plateaus with no progress for years, all because these fundamentals of good playing are missing. All of my students have these things. They all play well, and they never stop getting better on guitar. 

Without Technique There Is No Music

The word "technique" means "what we do and how we do it to get what we want" .Proper technique can vary across different styles of guitar, but there are certain fundamentals of technique that must be in place before you can play any style of guitar well. 

There are some foolish people who think that you shouldn't worry about technique. They think you should just go ahead and play! Yes, that might work, for a small number of people and up to a certain point. Such an approach will never produce uniformly superior results. It will be like teaching someone to swim by throwing them in the lake and seeing if they can figure it out! Some will, many will drown. 

This is what happens to the majority of guitar students who are not properly trained in technique from the beginning. 

Did You Start At The First Fret?

Virtually all beginners start to learn guitar by playing down the neck at the first fret. This is the hardest place to play because the arm is extended farthest away fro the body. Beginning fingers cannot play notes or chords easily while the shoulder muscles support the 8 to 12 pounds of arm weight. Everything tenses, and muscle memory locks that tensio into the muscles and fingers, getting worse each time you practice.

Beginning to learn at the first fret is the beginning of a lifetime of bad habits on guitar . Guitar Principles training avoids this syndrome. We begin to develop the left hand with absolutely correct from up the neck, where fingers learn to move with relaxation and control. 

Next, we'll take a deeper look at how the left hand needs to be trained to avoid bad habits. 

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