I am very proud of Emanuel! He is certainly any teachers dream. What does that mean? He works hard AND he always follows directions! His work ethic is strong, and he will continue to develop as a player and become as good a player as he wishes to work for.
I am happy to see him pursue classical guitar, and I have no doubt he will explore other styles as he continues his guitar journey.
Notice the beautiful relaxed control of Emanuel's fingers. This is the result of many hours of correct practice!
Emanuel's Guitar Journey...
How long did you play guitar before learning “The Principles”?
It’s difficult to say, I’d say 4 years playing seriously with the intention of actually being good at the instrument. I took one year of guitar classes when I was a little kid (around 17 years ago), after that, I pretty much left the guitar and didn’t come back to it until my last year of university (2014).
At the beginning I was playing just for fun but once I was out of college (2015) that was when I realized that I really wanted to be good at the instrument and I started to practice more seriously. I discovered Jamie’s guitar class four years later in 2019.
What was it like before “The Principles”? Did you feel confi dent that your practice was giving you good results?
It was a two steps forward one step backward type of thing. I could see progress but everything was pretty random. I knew that I was doing some things correctly and other things incorrectly but I didn’t know what those things were.
I was certainly bad at identifying problems and fixing them so I just continued with a lot of holes in my playing. About confidence, again, it was a random thing. Sometimes I felt I was making progress other times I just felt stuck.
How did you try to learn guitar? Youtube, private lessons, on your own? How did that work?
After I pick up the guitar again in 2014/2015, I started learning with YouTube and other online resources. Justin Guitar was a big one that I used when I started out.
When I wanted to jump to electric stuff I also used the Metal Method by Doug Marks. Around 2018 I discovered Pebber Brown’s instructional materials and I also did a bit of those. I feel that I took away something from all of those courses. I learned the common chord shapes with Justin.
Started playing my first electric songs with the Metal Method and finally began to understand music theory with Pebber’s lessons. Of course, I also felt that I learned all of this in a very superficial manner and I didn’t consider my technique to be any good.
How does it feel now to practice guitar since you have been using “The Principles”?
It is actually way more demanding and it made me realize how difficult the guitar really is as an instrument. It’s so easy to suck at it without even realizing it. But it has allowed me to have this laser focus on my technique.
In the past, when I had a technical problem, my plan was to just keep playing it hoping that eventually, it would sound good. Now I know that doesn’t work (or it can work but if it does, it would be mere luck).
The best thing to do is to stop and analyze in the most focused way what you are doing and how your body is reacting to it. Paying attention to my shoulders, my biceps, my non-moving fingers was a completely new thing that Jamie allowed me to discover and it’s quite essential because a lot of times that’s the source of the problem.
Ever since I started the principles I also noticed a development in my left hand. Training with Jamie made me be aware of both classical positioning and blues positioning on the left hand and switching between the two. I think that has greatly improved my playing overall.
The other thing where Jamie has influenced me a lot is getting me into classical guitar. Before meeting her, I hadn’t even considered learning classical, it just seemed way too complicated and I didn’t think I’d be able to play any of that stuff. But after learning some beginner pieces with her, I’ve realized that it’s possible for me to play this.
Jamie has a quote in her book, I don’t remember it exactly but paraphrasing it is something like: “If the guitarist you are trying to emulate tried to play that piece the way that you are playing it, he wouldn’t be able to play it either”. That was a huge thing for me and it made me realize the importance of technique and unwanted added tension in the body.
Jamie also made me realize that there’s no shame in practicing things slowly, even ridiculously slow. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary and the surest way to develop a strong foundation. When I did this type of practice in the beginning, I felt like such a noob, but then I realized that this is just a normal part of the process and even pro guitarists do it all the time. I guess it doesn’t matter how much of a pro you are, you’re always kind of a noob.
What do you like most about studying guitar with Jamie?
I like her absolute mastery of technique teaching and how she teaches all of these physical things that are
very difficult to teach but somehow she finds a way of doing it. I don’t think there’s another teacher like her.
I’m pretty sure I can bring her any technique problem and she would be able to solve it and also give me
the perspective on how to solve it to be more independent next time.
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