The Power of the Wrist

Tip of Summer 2012:

The secret to volume and projection is in the wrist.  Instead of yanking on the strings with your fingers, let your fingers relax and let the power of your stroke come from your wrist.  When you’re doing it right, it almost feels like you’re playing with your wrist rather than with your fingers.  There is a certain energy which radiates from the place where the wrist meets the top of the hand, and this energy extends down each finger.  When using a finger, that finger should be on good terms with your wrist.  That is, you should feel the connection between the two, almost feeling like the two are one:  they are working in harmony and unity.  Considering the anatomy of the fingers, the main muscles which move them are not located in the hand but in the forearm.  By focusing on the wrist, the perceived connection between the fingers and the muscles which move them is strengthened.  Also, the wrist is a common place for tension to build up as if it were a kink in a hose.  Focusing on letting the music flow from and through the wrist will release this tension and let the weight of your hand drive the power of the music.  In order to utilize the full power of your wrist, position your hand so that the back of your hand is nearly parallel with the top of the guitar but with your wrist slightly lifted.  The most important thing to remember is to relax!  Tension is misused power.  Check out this video of Marco Tamayo for a perfect example of the power of the wrist:  Marco Tamayo playing El Colibri by Sagregas

Tip of the Season: A Tip of the Hat to David Russell

I am introducing a new feature on this blog called “Tip of the Season” where, every three months, I will post about something I think might be helpful for classical guitarists. Advice will range from technique to musicality and from the practical to the philosophical. While this advice will be directed towards guitarists, my hope is that anyone will be able to glean something from it. I took this “Tip of the Season” idea directly from my favorite classical guitarist, David Russell, who used to have an identical feature on his website.  It is because of David Russell’s “Tip of the Season” that I now always carry a hair comb with me in my guitar case.  “You never know when you might be asked to play a concert!”  I’ve never used the comb, but the comb reminds me of David Russell’s practicality, musicianship, and generosity.