A few notes about techniqueJune 24th, 2015
Technique to me has always been more about skill than pure ability.
What is the difference between the two, you may ask.
Let’s take the example of playing arpeggios.
Many people think that to play fast arpeggios, they’ll have to have fast fingers. So they work on increasing the speed of their fingers.
In other words, they’re working on the ability of their fingers to move fast.
To me, however, fast fingers are not that important in playing fast arpeggios.
Much more important is grouping the notes of the arpeggio so that you play them in one motion rather than in many small motions.
This is skill, skill in knowing how to group the notes and how to time their releases so that they occur at a regular even rate.
Knowing the difference between skill and ability is crucial.
I hear of players who focus on ability, they’re under the impression that to play fast, they’ll have to move their fingers fast.
So they theorize, probably inspired by athletes who have to get out of the block in an explosive motion, that they have to work on explosive (sometimes called ballistic) motions in their fingers.
But this is really barking up the wrong tree.
In many ways, the situation is analogous to using brute force and using leverage.
Skill is leveraging your ability. If you depend purely on your physical prowess, you’re using brute force, or as the case is here, brute speed.
As we all know, brute force can only get you so far.
The same is true of other techniques like the tremolo and scales.
Each one of these techniques have specific skills (or tricks) associated with them.
And the key to mastering them is to learn these tricks and internalize them.
Tricks is a good word to describe these skills. But this is not trickery of course. It’s more like special knowledge to achieve what you want to achieve.
Another word might be cheats (as in cheat sheet). You know the routine; cheats enable you to move almost miraculously from one level to another. In the same way, skills enable you to produce technical effects almost miraculously, with almost no effort.
So where do you learn these skills?
Through practice. You practice and practice and over time, these skills will reveal themselves to you. That’s where I have derived most of my techniques.
You can learn them from teachers.
This is really one of the reasons we go to teachers so that they will show us all these shortcuts to techniques.
You can learn them from books, and I have learned my share of skills from different books and magazine articles too.
Where you learn your skills is immaterial.
The important thing is that once you learn them, you’ll have to practice them until they become second nature, until they occur automatically.
The more skills you learn, the more you will realize that playing the guitar is really very simple and easy
It’s all a question of knowing ‘how’ to do it.