Monday, May 12, 2008

A Sense of Direction

In the book "The Inner Game of Tennis" by Tim Galloway, he mentions the fact that most tennis students are so concerned with hitting the ball properly (with the right swing, footing, etc.), that they actually forget to think about where they want to the ball to go. They are overburdened with directions on how to hit the ball, so they forget about the result - getting the ball over the net. Once they concentrate on where they want the ball to go, many technical problems go away because the body engages the muscles naturally to achieve a visualized result.

I've been noticing this in my students as well. They know the fingering, have good hand positioning, are able to visualize the notes, etc. but they don't actually see clearly where they have to put their fingers. They KNOW the fingering - have it memorized in fact - but often they don't really see clearly where they need to put their fingers. When i say "see clearly" I mean to see it as clearly as you would any object you were reaching out to pick up. This is so fundamental to playing that it can be overlooked easily.

Take a piece of music and play it VERY slowly. As you play each note, see clearly the string and fret of the next note you are about to play. Stay very focused - your mind will probably want to wander because it won't be used to this. See the next note (or notes) exactly where it will be on the fretboard. Try to feel what those next notes will feel like. In other words, you are executing and looking/feeling ahead at the same time for every single note. If you notice that you can do this at a slow tempo, then increase the tempo. Keep going faster until you've reached the tempo you like.

Notice how your body starts to prepare for the next notes naturally. You don't have to "try" to get the body to be more accurate - all you have to do is be clear where you want to put your fingers - and then let the body do what it needs to do to get there. That is exactly what we do when we pick up a pen or some other object. We don't "try" to pick it up - we just move the hand to the pen and pick it up. However, if we don't see the pen clearly, we may not pick it up accurately.

This is Effortless Doing - the mind directs and the body does. There is no "trying". Don't put any stress or strain into this. This is not hard work - it just takes focus and clarity. If you miss a note, just go back and refocus. Focus is the key - stay present in the now and clearly direct where you want to go - then see what happens.

1 comment:

Aleksandar said...

It's amazing how many classical guitar method books are writen (many by very famous players) without even noticing that esential technique you talk about(see in your mind what are you going to play before it comes actualy)

Pages and pages are printed with scale patterns,nail shapes,pima patterns,fingerings etc...(all important stuff though) but this concept should be mentioned and stressed in very first pages of any serious guitar method book.
(I read a lot of instructional books and only Aaron Shearer clearly talked about it,end Scot Tenant in form of tips for playing some dificault chord jumps as in second part of "romanze".He said something like "try to visualize next chord while you playing the current one..."