Tag Archives: potential

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.)

Cultivate and develop your focus

Like anything else, your focus is something that can grow and maintain. Every day you have to train yourself to develop this element. Take every opportunity to cultivate your attention. At a time when our attention is often drawn to all our electronic communication objects, it is even more important to retrieve this faculty that we seem to gradually lose.

 For example, in a room full of people who speak them, try to focus on one voice.

 In class, try to concentrate on what the teacher said, his voice insulation of all ambient noise and distractions.

 Practice with your cell open and try to stay focused despite signals that indicate that you have received an email, a text message or a call. Try the same thing with a book or watching television.

 When practicing your instrument, focus on one part of your body and pay attention to sensations, tension, gestures … Do the same if you practice a physical activity such as running, swimming, etc.

 Focus on a word, an idea, an image and try to keep your attention directed toward them. Visualize your goals.

 In short, be creative and do you find objects or ideas to which your attention to work your focus. Make sure nice not jeopardize your personal safety while doing this exercise in an inappropriate place.

 Have you managed to read this without being distracted?

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)

Left-arm lateral movement

The secret of quick and efficient movement of the left arm is to use the shoulder muscles to move the arm and forearm. The hand is never the driving force behind the action. It is relaxed, and it is brought into place by the musculature of the shoulder. The forearm is then called upon for a more accurate adjustment, while the wrist and  fingers maintain their optimised positioning as described above.

The eyes determine the end point of the hand, allowing the brain to calculate the distance between the start and end positions easily.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)

Focus, concentration, commitment

Maintain maximum concentration and focus is one of the goals of all those who have to perform. Some have a natural ability to enter this state of mind. Others less fortunate, will need to work a little.

The first thing to do is to manage its energy level to be able to use a maximum when it is necessary. Maintaining a state of concentration for a long time is demanding. We must learn to dose our efforts.

Great athletes use to the most this trick, which is both simple and complicated. They simply decide to rush headlong to give the best of themselves and perform in a state of relaxed concentration. Everything is there. They  have a clear purpose and fully engage in the pursuit of their goal.

Sometimes the fear of failure can motivate us, but often it paralyzes. In a situation where we have already experienced the failure or fear, one can focus on the routine preparation, on the warm up to finally connect fully with what we do during the performance itself.

We must constantly remind our best moments, our success, our pleasure, our pride in order to feed this mental state.

Another simple trick is to always work with the same desire to reach a state of concentration and commitment to what we do. Give yourself clear goals in your practice and focus on how to achieve your goals. This will help you develop your focus.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.)

Sleep less, work more?

Cutting the hours of sleep to get more time to work? Is it effective?

Everyone knows that a good night’s sleep is important. Not only, we rest, but the brain also uses this time to defragment the hard drive (our brain) by analyzing and classifying information in the right place. He also takes the time to make brand new bridges, completely new connections that will allow us to run perfectly our new learning.

We can maximize the effect of sleep by doing a nap after a period of intense work (particularly effective around noon). The brain then digests the information, which becomes available after our sleep. In addition, the nap will help us reduce our cortisol levels. We can systematically make a nap just before a stressful event to a halt the production of cortisol.

Lack of sleep affects our cognitive abilities, but how much?

Take the example of a student who always gets ” A ” and still ranks in the top 10% in everything she did. If she sleeps just less than seven hours a night during the week and about 6:20 the weekend, she will see her results fall in the back rows, as people that would normally get results in the lower 10%.

A study on soldiers responsible to operate a military complex showed that after a night’s sleep less, there was a 30% decline in their cognitive abilities coupled with a decline in their performance. After two nights of sleep deprivation, the drop was 60%.

When a person is sleeping less than six hours a night for five consecutive days, we observe the same effects as a person deprived of sleep for 48 hours.

Although sleep is important to maximize the effectiveness of your work. Sleep well and be more efficient than ever.

© Jean-François  Desrosby 2015

Beat stress in 32 seconds

A simple exercise that can help you lower your cortisol level, and that is fulfilled in 32 seconds, anyone? This exercise is easy, take a deep breath counting 4 seconds. Never stop your breath, exhale slowly now, even, counting 4 seconds. Repeat until it makes a total of 32 seconds. Good at math? 😉

By controlling your breathing, it is possible to break the cycle of the physical effects of stress, giving a contradictory signal to your brain. This is what we call cardiac coherence and was first developed by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber.

Controlling your breathing helps to regularize your heart rate and thus standardize the operation of the brain. This will improve your general homeostasis. Repeat it every time you feel your stress levels increase. Can you afford to take 32 seconds for you? I hope so!

© Jean-François Desrosby D.Mus, 2015

Left hand

The main problem related to the left hand when playing guitar is maintaining the arm in the air, often for many hours. In order to let the hand be entirely free, it is important to remember that each muscle must play the role for which it was designed. First, it is necessary to ensure that the shoulder blade is in place (in coaptation) using the technique mentioned above. To maintain the arms in the air, all the muscles of the shoulder must be involved. The arm must be held in the air, even if the instrument is not there. This seems obvious, but after several minutes of instrumental practice, those tired muscles relax, and the hand tends to hang onto the neck of the instrument and thus sustain the weight of the arm. The hand then loses a lot of agility. In addition, the small hand muscles are required to perform a function against nature. This causes unusual tiredness and multiplies the risk of injury. This is a problem that we find regularly among guitarists led by the good intention of playing relaxed. In attempting to relax the muscles above the shoulders, they place the weight of the arm on the hand.

Another issue related to the left hand is that it must be maintained in supination. I’m talking about the hand to draw your attention, because here (as in the case of the elevation of the arm), the hand is far from being the origin of the movement. If that is the case for you, learn to change your conception of things. It can be difficult to stop considering our precious hands to be the centre of the universe. As the Buddhist proverb says, “A finger points to the moon; unhappy are those who look at the finger.”

Thus, the supination of the left arm must take root in the shoulder. The rotation is done from the glenohumeral joint, which (surprise!) allows one to perform the supination of the arm from the base of the shoulder. This arm is held in place by the strong bicep muscle. Under no circumstances should the movement of supination be done through the action of muscles in the forearm. Moreover, the hand must never be the source of the movement. One must, under all circumstances, use the small radial and ulnar muscles to turn that hand and, by extension, the rest of the arm. They are not strong enough to fight against other muscles located upstream, which themselves were not involved in the road to supination. They would find themselves antagonists of the biceps, and that would harm them and cause them injury. Imagine how much the utilisation of the radial and ulnar muscles in the action of supination influences the freedom of movement of the hand. It finds itself in a state of constant contraction and effort, which inhibits the action of the fingers in the realisation of the precision work for which they were actually designed.

The forearm is mainly used to place the hand in an optimal way by extending the movement of the shoulder and biceps. It completes the positioning accuracy, because thinner muscles act with greater precision. Nevertheless, the forearm should be the engine of the full supination of the left arm.

On the topic of the optimal placement of the hand, let’s now, without going into detail, take a look at another basic principle. When the wrist is slightly inclined from the radial side (thumb), it facilitates the action of the index and middle fingers. These two fingers gain accuracy and stability when they are placed as well. However, this position is a bit more demanding on the tendons; thus, it should not be the basis of our positioning. If, on the contrary, we impose a slight flexion at the wrist on the ulnar side (little finger), the fingers will be freer and faster. Note that the change is evident especially in the auricular and ring fingers, but the middle and index fingers also gain agility. Unfortunately, they lose stability. It is also important to reinforce the elbows and shoulders in the lateral flexion of the wrist so you do not overload the muscles of the upper extremities.

The next concept to be referred to is that which Chamagne1 named in his various writings the principle of extended opposition. This concept is characterised by the ability of the thumb to oppose the other fingers. It is also important to know that the metacarpals corresponding to the last two fingers are mobile, unlike those corresponding to the index and middle fingers, which are fixed.

These movable metacarpals allow greater adaptability of the hand, whose primary function is grasping.

The principle of extended opposition is simple. When the thumb moves away from the index finger, it contracts the first dorsal interosseous and the two beams. With this contraction, the first dorsal interosseous ligament pulls on the deep transverse intermetacarpal, which has the immediate effect of solidifying the arch of the hand by blocking the metacarpal corresponding to the last two fingers.

In this way, the hand is stable, and it is easy to control the fingers in a highly precise way. The brain, which has the clear purpose of orienting itself in space, can direct the fingers in that same space with acuity increased tenfold.

It is also fundamental to find the right level of pressure of the fingers on the string. We often think that significant pressure is required to produce a sound that is clear and pure. I propose the following exercise to be aware of the weight required to produce a beautiful sound. Gently press the index finger of your left hand on the first string at the first fret. While playing the string lightly with your right hand, slowly increase the pressure on the string. As soon as you get the pure and clean sound you want, note the amount of pressure you are exerting. You have discovered the optimum pressure. 

It is essential to understand how too much finger pressure on the neck can affect the hand: This can lead to the extreme stress of the pulleys that pass through the tendons of the fingers, which then creates a virtual brake. The speed of the fingers is therefore greatly reduced.

1Philippe Chamagne is a kinesiologist specialising in disorders related to the practice of musical instruments. He is an author and speaker and the founder and technical advisor of the Musician’s Clinic in Paris.

© Jean-François Desrosby 2015