Economy 3August 7th, 2020
As I mentioned in the AOV, economy is a fundamental aspect of virtuosity.
It’s a simple concept and few will question it. The problem is in implementation.
As in many things in life, there’re two basic ways to accomplishing it, 1. You can try to enforce it or 2. You can create the conditions for it to occur naturally.
Enforcing requires work; you’ll have to constantly monitor what you’re doing. And most of the time, it doesn’t work, because the underlying conditions may be against it.
Creating conditions is a much better option—conditions for it to occur naturally.
To do this, you integrate the principle into your body mechanics.
In the case of the right hand, you’ll have to move in such a way that your movements naturally produce economy.
As I’ve written before, this means focusing your movements at the fingertips.
Focusing your movements at the fingertips means that you initiate the strokes with your fingertips.
You’re not concerned about which joint is moving, you’re focused only on moving your fingertips.
The best way to understand this is to think of the action of scratching.
When you scratch yourself, you’re not thinking about which joint is moving, or in what order or whether you have any follow-through in your fingers.
You just scratch, and you let your innate finger intelligence do its work naturally, the way nature intended, in the background.
But there’s another angle to playing at the fingertips which has not been dealt with much before.
And this is what happens in the fingers, beneath the surface.
When you watch good players play, do they look like they’re working hard at being fast; do they look like they’re trying to get their fingers to move fast?
No, they make it look easy and effortless.
And to them it is easy and effortless, because they’ve learned to tap into the energy that resides at our fingertips.
They’re able to make them work together in what might be best described as an ‘engine’ within the fingers,
To illustrate this ‘engine,’ think of the three fingers and thumb as one unit.
When you pluck a series of notes, you move them as one integrated unit, they do not operate alone.
Let’s take an example of playing a “p a m i.”
When you pluck the “p” the movement creates momentum which produces a strong forward push to the “a” finger, which in turn produces a strong forward drive to the “m,” which in turn produces the same drive to the “i” and then back to the “p.”
This forward motion is built into the strokes.
And it is the secret to the effortless technique of good players.
One way to try to experience this technique is to think of a corkscrew motion in the fingers.
If you were to do a corkscrew movement with your thumb and fingers, you will see that as one finger moves in, the next one is immediately following, and the next, and the next in a chain of interlocking actions.
As you move your thumb forward, the ‘a,’ ‘m,’ and ‘i’ fingers are already moving in sequence, one following the other.
It is this chain of movements that produce the sensation of each finger setting off the next.
To be able to apply the technique, it is crucial you position the fingers in an optimal position, all with similar curvatures, hovering right above the strings.
And it’s absolutely critical that you focus all your movements at the fingertips.
In the next two articles, I’ll delve into how the principle works in free stroke arpeggios and in rest-strokes scales.