The Secret of Control
January 14, 2010 at 6:59 PM
As you know, we are looking for clean, efficient, relaxed movements from fingers and arms as we play. Yet there is a tendency, due to the wiring of our nervous system, that actually interferes with this process.
Let’s say, for instance that you have arrived at a note on the E string from another note on the E string. Following these is a note, using a different finger, on the G string.
Now our brain, upon recognizing the coming leap, will tend to react suddenly; it’s trying to help by getting a jump on things.
Unfortunately, however, this results in anticipatory movements in the bow arm and left hand that are both un-coordinated and unconscious.
And secondly, due to the brain being taken over with ‘getting to the next note’, we may unconsciously neglect to release the previous note in a timely manner as well.
The bottom line is our hands feel uncoordinated and the execution sounds imprecise.
Now the way to break this cycle is really very simple and highly effective; you must root out and ‘just say no’ to any and all anticipatory movements you can find.
Here’s how you do it.
You play a few notes ahead of a suspected offender – large shift, big string crossing, ect. – and STOP on the note just before the event. Now, watch very carefully what you do when you even THINK of playing the next note.
Remember, I’m not saying MOVE to the next note, only THINK of playing it. If you move, even a muscle, as you think of being on the next note you’ve found what I’m talking about.
Most folks will have anticipatory movements cropping up in both left and right sides when trying this.
Now, once you find them, you’ve got to dissolve them. And you do this by holding the previous note and whilst continuing to PLAY the the next note IN YOUR HEAD until any and all anticipations have been outed.
Now you’ve earned yourself a ‘green light’, at which time you merely RELEASE all the actions needed to arrive at the note you’ve only been visualizing thusfar.
Sound too complicated? It’s not.
Yet you must be prepared for a bit of a struggle for control. It’s either your conscious mind or your unconscious mind. And the unconscious mind, though well intended, can often take us down roads that don’t make the grade.
Now, once you’ve gotten control ‘out of tempo’, begin running your tests even as you play in a slow, measured tempo. Remember, you only go on if you get a ‘green light’; that is, by effectively putting the kibosh on any and all anticipatory movements that want to crop up.
It could easily be called ‘consciousness practice.’ And it’s good for just about any skill you are likely to undertake in this life, I might add.
All the best,
Very good post/blog. I'll remember this! I wonder if you're a psychologist, nlp'er or a hypnotist. :P
I'm a hypnotist myself so if you have anything to talk about, feel free to message me.
I just want to be clear that you are not implying that there is no such thing as a transition when moving from one point to the next whether it be a string crossing or a shift or within a position from one note to the next. As in walking, one leg does not move forward and foot land on the ground without the other leg starting to move and prepare to land- otherwise we'd look like those zombies or Frankenstein in the movies with that lumbering kind of walk. I take your meaning to be that one should not have excitable nerve and muscle responses that create jerky, panic-type movements. There is a film of Jascha Heifetz playing part of the Scherzo tarentelle of Wienawski in slow motion and it clearly shows fluid and relaxed transitions in shifts and string crossings. I would agree that the mental process and preparation for any movement has to be clear, simple and efficient in order that we not react in panic but there are movements we need to make to shorten distances in string crossings or to assist bow changes or to have fingers ready for a shift- it's just that these movements should not be done too soon or too late otherwise they are not coordinated, smooth, and relaxed.
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