Tag Archives: muscle tone

Hammer On and Pull Off like Bruce Lee!

There are several secrets to successful slurs. For hammer-on slurs, the first rule is to prepare the fingers. Each finger must be in place just above the string to play. Many contend that a significant distance is required to produce a clearly audible sound. However, I would invite them to consult the documents available explaining the famous one-inch punch of Jeet Kune Do master Bruce Lee. He showed that he could throw back an opponent with a punch initiated from only one inch away. Using this technique, he demonstrated the well-known principle in physics (kinetic energy) that it is not necessarily distance that affects force, but the speed at with the object is moving.

So the secret is a good positioning of the hand and a quick descent of the finger led by the first joint. The positioning of the finger must be optimal thanks to the use of the second and third phalanx so that the attack is perfect and there is no energy loss.

In the case of pulled slurs, the fingers should be placed on the string, as the finger that will play the second note is already in place. In this case, it is the second phalanx that act as an engine.

Again, speed is the secret. The finger that makes the downward movement can also use the bounce of the bottom string (which then serves as a springboard) to change direction.

In achieving the slurs, we can also use the pronator and supinator muscles to give a boost to the hand. Under no circumstances should the hand pull the pronator and supinator muscles. These are the muscles that power the hand.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)

Optimal hand position

The optimal positioning of the right and left hand is achieved through compliance with the ergonomic principles outlined in previous post.  The hand must be tilted on the ulnar side to an angle of 15 degrees at the wrist. A slight flexion toward the outside of 15 degrees at the wrist completes the positioning. Although it is impossible to maintain this optimum positioning at all times, the player will attempt to return to this position in which the fingers are free to move as often as possible.

© Jean-François  Desrosby 2015

Posture and self-confidence

We already know that posture plays a significant role in optimizing our movements when playing an instrument. Many of you may be surprised to know that posture also affects self-confidence.

If we can guess the level of self-confidence of someone by analyzing his posture, it is as well true that our own posture reflects our confidence in ourselves.

So if our posture reflects our confidence, can we influence our level of confidence intentionally by changing our posture? The answer is yes. Good posture will affect your level of personal confidence in addition of giving others the image of someone more confident about his abilities. If we add those benefits to both the injury prevention and optimizing technique, there is no reason for you not to work to improve your posture, and this, in your instrumental practice as in your daily life!

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)

Tone versus relaxation

The first error of the musician who is conscious of his well-being is  listening to people who constantly remind him that the most important thing in the practice of his art is to be relax but they forget to specify how to a relax! The result is the emergence of tension.To counteract these pressures, the well-intentioned musician accentuates is relaxation, which accentuates the tension.

The result of this accentuation of relaxation appears to be an escalation of tension for no apparent reason. After discussions with his teachers, colleagues and friends, all advise him to do ne thing: Relax!

While it is true that relaxation may be an appropriate solution to the problem of tension,  we must first understand the mechanisms that are behind the idea of relaxation.

For example, take the shoulders. If a musician wants to relax the shoulders, he lets them fall down. As a result, he complais of stiffness in the neck. This is a typical example of what I call  “false relaxation”. This state involves releasing a particular muscle in order to relax a body part. What we must understand about the concept of relaxation is that each muscle has its antagonist.

Therefore, relaxation can only occur when there is perfect balance between the antagonistic muscles. Relaxation does not involve muscle relaxation, but a dynamic tone of the antagonistic muscles that maintain the member in a position of inertia. We thus speak of an active rather than a passive relaxation. The balance of forces produces a feeling of muscle relaxation.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)