Focusing on the fingertips

September 18th, 2017

Here’s a short video on focusing your playing at the fingertips.

2 Responses to “Focusing on the fingertips”

  1. Slow Moe Says:

    Very interesting and helpful videos, I agree that seeing is worth much more than words. So what you’re saying is not so much that the tip joint flexion is plucking the string, all the joints are working together, it’s more about where to put the mental focus.–the tip of the finger where it contacts the string. Is this correct? Can you talk about nail length and nail/flesh technique? You seem to use longer nails and more of a nail-only technique, whereas many teachers back to Segovia recommend very short nails and a flesh component to the pluck. I’m interested in your thoughts on how these differences may affect technique.

  2. Philip Hii Says:

    I think it’s more than mental focus. It’s where you physically initiate the plucking action.

    For example, When I pluck with my fingertip, I am literally moving the fingertip, but because the finger work as a unit, this movement in the fingertip will also cause the middle and knuckle joints to move. So there is movement in the middle joint when I pluck with my fingertips but this is quite different from if I were to actually initiate the movement with the middle joint.

    Think of slapping with the hand. If you were to slap something with your hand, you will be moving the hand (fingertip equivalent) towards the thing. The hand is initiating the movement. But in the process of moving the hand, the elbow (middle joint equivalent) and shoulder joints will also be activated in support of that movement in the hand. These movements are secondary and sympathetic in nature. But you would never try to initiate a slap from the elbow.

    Hope that makes sense. I guess the key is where you initiate the action.

    I actually play from flesh to nail. I believe in the precision in imprecision principle so I play mostly from the flesh and pluck with the nail. When you play with the flesh, you have a larger area to hit and this means you’re more likely to find the target. I don’t spend a lot of time on my nails so sometimes they grow longer than I would like them to be. The ideal length is what Segovia recommended, about 1/16th beyond the flesh.

    However, this also depends on the fingertip shape. if the fingertip is wider, I like to keep them shorter, if they’re thinner and more rounded, I like them longer. The actual shape also depends on the fingertip shape. For example, my ‘a’ fingernail has a slight (downward) ramp whereas the ‘i’ finger is rounded.

    I’ll try to do a video on this topic soon. Thanks for your interest.

Leave a Reply