Learn To Control "The Cycle Of The Note" - Or Suffer From Uncontrolled Tension!
There are certain things that go wrong at the beginning of virtually all guitar students training. The most important of these is ignorance of what happens in the body every time you play a note on the guitar
Every time you play a note, your fingers, hand and arm will tense, This happened with the first note you every played on guitar. You did not feel it, and so you did not control this tension, or release it after the note was played.
This tension stayed in your muscles and increased every time you practiced. You didn't know it, but this tension made it difficult to control your fingers, especially any time fast playing was required ,
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In order to control and release this tension, you must understand how and why it occurs. To understand this, we must learn about "The Cycle Of The Note".
The Cycle Of The Note
1. In order to play a note you must place force on a string. You must do this to set the string into vibration so that it produces a sound
2. You place force on the string either with the pick or a finger.
3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The string is an elastic medium, so it stretches, and returns an equal amount of force back to the pick or your finger.
4. In order to control the pick or finger, you must tense various muscles in the hand and harm as you place force on the string.
5. The more force you place, the more tension is created in the body as a necessary reaction.
6. If you do not minimize this tension, and release it after the note is played, you will retain that tension in your muscles as you attempt to play the next note.
7. This retained tension will make smooth movement of the fingers difficult or impossible. Your playing will suffer from chronic tension and you will have trouble hitting the strings you want to play. There will be lots of mistakes.
8. The faster you play, the more tension and mistakes will occur.
9. You will try to maintain control by placing less force. You will be forced to play slower in order to maintain some degree of control.
If you do not learn about The Cycle Of The Note, and learn to control it as you play, you will not become as good as you could be on guitar.
This actually happens to the majority of guitar students. It begins with the very first note they play.
If You Are Beginning Guitar: The best thing you can do is to learn about "The Cycle Of The Note", and how to practice in a way that allows you to control it. If you do, you will avoid all the bad habits that make good guitar playing difficult or impossible.
If You Already Play: The best thing you can do is to begin to be aware of "The Cycle Of The Note" in your playing. Observe it and learn to feel and release this tension. If you do, you will see a surprising new feeling of control in all your playing
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What did you think? I'd love to know your thoughts on this article, please leave a comment.
I am eager to try, I have been self teaching for about 6 months and have often felt that I am holding tension in both my arms and hands, having this clarified for me could be a major breakthrough. Reading this tutorial I almost know before I pick up my guitar that I have been guilty of holding onto the tension and know that I will have to unlearn these habits…many thanks 🙂
You’re welcome Gail. Self-teaching is a slow road, when you are ready to move fast, connect with me.
This is so useful. Having had to recover from long term debilitating illness I have been made aware of the relationship between brain and body regarding pain, through intensive physio therapy.
There is a strong correlation in what is described here about teaching the mind and muscle to remember the relaxation moment rather than the tension. Huge point, so exciting.
You’re welcome Judy.