A hypothetical

March 14th, 2013

Springbreak is always a good time to catch up on stuff, and this week, I managed to catch up on some youtube viewing. Tired of the stop-start connections, and with the help of google, I soon found a way to download some of the videos to view on my netbook. Which led me to an epiphany about youtube as the greatest learning tool ever invented and to this short article…


Let’s imagine a hypothetical situation.

Let’s say you have a choice of two teachers and they’re giving you conflicting advice.

One is saying you have to play from the knuckle and move your finger into your palm as you pluck and the other one is saying you have to play with your fingertips and lift your finger up as you play.

Let’s say one of them is your teacher and the other one is John Williams.

Who would you choose to believe?

Yes, it’s a hard decision, and you’ll probably say you don’t deal in hypotheticals.

But let’s say it’s not so hypothetical after all, thanks to youtube.

You can actually have John Williams teach you, right there in the comfort of your home or studio – not with words but with actions.

Here’s what you need to do to study with John Williams.

First download this app, VLC media player (it’s free).


Next, go to this link:


And paste this youtube link into the box where it says download.


Here’s the video:

Then download the video. I recommend MP4 360p for best quality.

When you’ve downloaded the video onto your computer, open it with VLC media player.

Next, go to the menu and select playback-speed-slower. This is a crucial part of the process. You’ll have to watch the video in slow motion.

And go to 2:55 or 3:18 in the video. These are two spots where the upward movements are clearest but you can probably find other places.

And there you have it – the great John Williams teaching you how it’s done.

So who would you choose to believe?

I don’t know about you, but all I can say is I wish we had youtube and VLC player back in those stone age days when we only had LPs and cassettes.

4 Responses to “A hypothetical”

  1. Alphonsus Jr. Says:

    I’ve done everything you suggest here. Fascinating. He definitely predominantly uses the fingertips and lifting technique.

    Then again the relativist might say, “That’s good for him, but not necessarily for me.”

  2. Philip Hii Says:

    Yes, it’s really amazing how slowing it down makes it even more obvious.

  3. Alphonsus Jr. Says:

    I’ve just come across this video by a great player that contains some shots again illustrating your point here:

  4. Philip Hii Says:

    What a player! Absolutely stunning. Actually, playing with the fingertips and lifting the finger upward is quite universal. If you watch good players, you’ll see that they all basically play this way, lifting the finger upward rather than pushing it inwards. Why? because it’s the most natural way to play and it’s also the most efficient. When you play this way, the preparation, the plucking, and the rebounding actions are all combined naturally into one continuous flow of motion. This continuity, this fluidity, is what produces speed and the effortlessness of virtuosity, because you’re not fighting your body, you’re tapping into its natural speed and power.

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