Letting nature do your playing for you (3)

September 24th, 2010

I’ve talked about two ways to let nature do your playing for you. The first is to use the power in a string to propel you forward, the second to anticipate each action.

There’s a third way and it is to consolidate your movements, to do many actions in one gesture rather than in many separate ones.

This is a concept I have written about elsewhere in practicing the tremolo. When playing the tremolo, it’s important to play the ‘pamipamipami…’ movements in one action. Don’t try to do them individually. That requires too much effort.

The analogy I often use to illustrate this technique is to think of knocking down a row of bowling pins.

If you have a row of bowling pins and you want to knock them down (for whatever reason), don’t try to knock them down one by one, that’ll involve too many separate movements. Instead, sweep your hand across the pins in one sweeping motion, and knock them all down in one action.

Now instead of bowling pins, think of notes. If you have to play a bunch of notes, it’s more efficient to play them in one movement rather than in many separate ones. This is particularly true for fast passages like tremolo and scales. Don’t try to play the notes individually. That’s too much effort. Instead play them in groups.

That’s one of the secrets to speed.

Consolidation is not to be confused with block or full planting. I have written elsewhere why full planting is to be avoided. It restricts the fingers and results in the clumping of notes.

The trick is to play freely, release the fingers one by one, but think of them as a group. As soon as you play one finger, move the second into position, play it and do it for the next and the next.

Yes, it sounds like the anticipation technique I talked about in an earlier post. That’s true, because it is the same technique, only seen from a different perspective.

The three techniques I’ve described of letting nature do your playing for you are just different takes on the same basic technique, which is to create an automated self-propelled engine in your body (in this case, the hand and fingers).

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