Guitar Technique As Nature Intended, And What We Can Learn From Toddlers
Published: 30 October, 2021

The Friday Blog –

short read

The basic elements of guitar technique are based on natural movements. On this basis alone we should be training our arms and hands and fingers to do our bidding. Our problem is telling apart relaxed natural movements from tense unproductive ones. As players we easily slide with the best of intentions into excessive tension. We are not good at recognising it when we are about to tip over into pain and damage. We are so keen, as the mad dedicated pluckers that some of us admit to being, that we lose all sense of time. Huddled over our beloved instrument we take a run time and again at difficult passages regardless of fingers, wrists, and arms complaining and pleading for a break. It’s not that we wilfully ignore their complaints. We just don’t hear them.

To regain some of that lost innocence of natural movement a few simple
exercises can make a big difference. Hang your right arm by your side. Slowly lift it at the elbow. Allow your right hand to hang limply from the wrist. With the arm at a 90 degree angle at the elbow and the hand hanging still, very slowly curve your fingers inwards. Now repeat the process with the arm resting on the guitar. That is a rough guide to right hand technique. Now repeat the process with the left arm. After you have curved your fingers inwards rotate the arm so you can see the palm of your hand. That is a rough guide to left hand technique. Both arms are now totally relaxed making excellent usage of our anatomy, bending and flexing without effort. All refinements of technique start from here.

The sitting position is based on the same notions of relaxation. We should bend our backs from the base, with the tip of the head at the top and the base of the spine as our motor. Slouching and twisting are out.  Watch how a toddler inclines backwards and forwards when seated while sucking its thumb. Perfect! We lose this natural movement quite quickly as we grow up. It’s good to recover it. By the way, you don’t have to suck your thumb to get in the mood, only if it helps.

Thank you for reading.


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