Shifting the beginning of the stroke to the end of the previous stroke

May 17th, 2011

To continue on the subject of shifting your focus from action to pre-action.

There’s a second and perhaps even more critical angle to this technique.

And that is to shift the beginning of the stroke to the end of the previous stroke.

Yes, it sounds like a mouthful, but there’s no other way to make it more succinct

Basically, the principle comes down to; when is the beginning of your stroke?

Some people will say ‘the beginning,” and that will make perfect sense in ordinary reality.

But in virtuoso reality, if you want to develop a free and effortless stroke, the beginning of the stroke must be the end of the previous stroke,

In other words, your plucking motion is the end of one stroke but it is also the beginning of your next stroke.

Try this short exercise:

Play the third string with your i finger, very lightly and gently. Don’t worry about tone or anything else. Just stay as relaxed as possible.

Now, focus on the plucking motion.

The instant you pluck, release all the tension in your finger and in that same instant, move it back to reposition it for the next stroke.

This is critical.

The two must happen simultaneously. The instant of plucking must be the beginning of the movement back to reposition the finger. In other words, the two happen in one motion.

Don’t pluck and then move to reposition, that’s two separate movements.

Pluck, and make that plucking motion the movement back to reposition, in  one motion.

It’s a very small subtle difference, but the difference it will make to your speed and relaxation will be dramatic.

That’s because the main focus of your strokes is on relaxation.

Each stroke becomes a movement into relaxation. The actual act of plucking, of playing becomes an act of relaxation.

It brings us back to the walking analogy. Take some time to observe how you walk and how other people walk.

Notice that most of the effort is in getting the foot to the ground and once the foot is on the ground, the actual step itself is a release of that effort, the actual step itself is an act of relaxing the foot and ankle.

That’s the same sensation you get when you shift the beginning of the stroke to the end of the previous stroke, the actual plucking is an act of relaxing the fingers.

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