The basic positioning of the body

The first constraint encountered by the classical guitarist in his body positioning is that he must be seated.

Initially, the guitarist should try every means to respect the two axes (i.e., the vertical and the horizontal axes). Let’s say the guitarist needs to sit as if a wire were passing through the center of his head to go down to the tip of the coccyx.

It is very important that the head rest in the axis, both vertically and horizontally. It reaches a weight of around five kilos, nearly 8% of the total body’s mass, so it is important to keep in line in order to avoid unnecessary tension.

Despite maintaining the vertical axis, the lower back and neck must be held in slight lordosis. This prevents the discs and the fluid around them from pressing on the numerous nerves that surround the spine. As simply pressing on these nerves can cause a slowdown communication to the muscles, it is doubly important to keep this slight lordosis. Moreover, this position is also effective in the prevention of disc herniations.

If we begin at the floor, the feet must be well supported on the ground, because it is in this ground support that we draw strength and stability. Needless to say,  the use of ergonomic support for the guitar is essential. By using conventional support, it is impossible to have both feet firmly planted, and we must thus compensate for the misalignment caused by the elevation of one foot relative to the other. There are several types of ergonomic support for the guitar. Those that are fully adjustable and ensure complete stability of the instrument are preferred.

Then the body weight should rest on the pins. Both have to absorb an equal weight. The pelvis must remain mobile and must move even during the practice of the instrument. This prevents the emergence of lower back tensions. The chair should be high enough so that the legs are higher than 90 degrees. In this way, part of the body weight rests on the legs. This position is one that promotes action. In addition, it results in a light natural curve in the lumbar spine, which ensures the desired slight lordosis. The abdominal muscles must be a tonic to maintain the vertical axis. The rest of the shoulder girdle should be toned, but I’ll give more details in subsequent posts.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.) 2018

Basic Concepts

The majority of musicians are sensitive to correct positioning of the main body axes (vertical and horizontal). For cons, the optimization requires a more in-depth and knowledge of key physiological mechanisms that lay behind every little move of a musician. The avowed aim is to optimize the position of each member to facilitate movement of the fingers that is unconstrained.

The number-one  rule of my approach is to use each muscle for the work for which it was designed. In this way, the stronger muscles will take care of tasks requiring strength, such as the continued rise of the left arm and supination or pronation of the right hand.

The small muscles that are more agile, will take charge of movements requiring lightness, precision and speed.

If you are afraid that my writing contradicts your beliefs, immediately put this blog on your black list and look no further into.

Please return to the Cave of Plato. ; )

If you are curious, and if you want to understand how physiological principles come into play when you execute a particular movement, it will be my pleasure to introduce you to the biomechanics applied to music…

I’m officially no longer part of a school of thought… Like for all great thinkers of this world, all the guitar schools contain mostly the correct answers, but biomechanics can help us in making micro-adjustments that are helping us to unlock our guitar technique in the respect of our morphology, which allows us to improve.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.) 2018

Why Biomechanics

If you read about my work, you already know that I am passionate about science, and you know what I think about mental optimization. During my doctoral studies, I also studied human biomechanics. Following an internship with Marc Papillon (music specialized kinesiologist), I after deepened my knowledge on the subject, and I have undertaken extensive research on ways to optimize the technique for guitar thanks to scientific knowledge made in the field of biomechanics.

Before continuing, please feel welcome to suggest me your corrections about the translation or typo of this text, because English is not my first language. Younger, I was curious and wanted constantly to improve. I was the first to observe all our great virtuosi in action, trying to understand their hidden secrets. I was fortunate to work with teachers from all guitar schools, whether the Carlevaro school, the Shearer School, the Romeros, the one of David Russell, Presti-Lagoya, Barrueco, the Assad and so many others!

Each had his recipe to explain what he was doing… Surprisingly, all these exceptional virtuosos managed to prove to me that they knew the best recipe for arriving at all great results, but though very different paths!!! Although the observation is one of the steps of scientific reasoning, I was not completely satisfied. I asked many questions in master classes on why a particular technical approach. I would often receive vague answers based on the perception of the virtuoso. He explained that he felt good, and it was easier for him, this or that way… My answer: Yes, but … Is there a perfect book, a perfect school? All my colleagues were trying to sell me their approach, their school … I also note that some did not hesitate to denigrate another school, but when I asked them why, their answers were empty and baseless…

I was lost like a homeless man. I started to think: OK but what about the great virtuosos of jazz, rock and all other music styles such as Asian and traditional Indian music, flamenco and gypsy jazz? What about Joe Satriani, John Petrucci, all the Paco’s , the Rosenberg, Joe Pass, Tuck Andress, Pat Metheny, Lagrène… What a huge mess it was in my head…I quickly realized that no approach was complete, and they were sometimes far from perfect. Hating the idea of becoming dogmatic and abandoning my rational side in favor of a boundless idolatry to a master and leaving all the wonderful ideas that could bring me another one. I was looking for the easy answers … Why did I stop playing blues? In that music, I just had to play with my soul…

What is the answer that humanity has given to dogmas and beliefs in the past: Science. Science has the wonderful power to respond rationally to our questions. There is much research  that was conducted in the field of human biomechanics, and they help the great athletes of this world. The guitarist can be compared to these athletes? Absolutely! Can he learn from that research  and applies this to his own technique? Absolutely! The idea that many masters can perform feats using different approaches is proof that we are partly wrong when attempting to copy them. These virtuosos could play with one less finger, and they would be better than most of us … Do they have technical limitations? Absolutely! Can they overcome them? For sure,  yes! However, do they need?

By cons, for the guitarist seeking the answers to his limitations, he will find them in science. Will he be as good as Russell, Barrueco, Segovia, Pierri, Yamashita, Romeros, Assad, Williams, Bream, Presti (there are so many others in the new generation!) of this world, maybe never. Nevertheless, he could, with the help of science, to be certain to reach his maximum.

© Jean-François Desrosby (D.Mus.) 2018