David Leisner: Playing with Ease

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DevonBadger
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David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by DevonBadger » Wed Jan 16, 2019 2:56 pm

David Leisner has a companion website to his Playing with Ease book where he provides several videos on different aspects of posture and technique.

I found these two to be of particular interest:

http://global.oup.com/us/companion.webs ... deo/ch3/1/

I haven't heard a stroke described in this way before, although there seems to be some similarity with when people talk about the pop or snap.

http://global.oup.com/us/companion.webs ... deo/ch5/5/

guit-box
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by guit-box » Wed Jan 16, 2019 8:52 pm

Thanks for the links to the video, I always appreciate watching a free video on technique since it's so much clearer than reading a description. He has some good points about how to use your body in a more relaxed way, but some of what he teaches is just snake oil in my opinion. First, nothing "falls up", that's a terrible description and second, you can't play anything but the most simple things by using the whole arm swinging at the note. It's possible there's some validity to engaging larger muscle groups or it may be complete nonsense, but one thing is for sure, you have to move the finger joints to play anything difficult on the guitar -- scales, arpeggios, tremolo, etc. Watch him playing an actual piece on youtube and you won't see large muscle arm movements, not even in a subtle way, he's moving the finger joints. If you look into what he charges for private lessons to teach people this nonsense, you'd be shocked. I am glad people can look at it online for free, and hopefully they will see for themselves that this is mostly a waste of time. There are so many great players/teachers who are more accomplished than Leisner, I would go to one of them and take leisner's advice with a healthy dose of skepticism, especially the claims that he can use these techniques to remedy focal dystonia. I have yet to hear from one of his FD students who have recovered using the whole arm approach.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Crofty
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Crofty » Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:44 pm

I thought you were being slightly rude guit-box - until I watched the video.

Terpfan
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Terpfan » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:49 am

I think David Leisner just lost his mind. Poor soul.

guit-box
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by guit-box » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:24 am

Crofty wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:44 pm
I thought you were being slightly rude guit-box - until I watched the video.
I'm speaking from personal experience. I flew to NYC to study with him, paid his very expensive fee, (which I've heard is many times more $ now) and basically was told to swing my arm from the elbow. It's complete and utter nonsense and until I hear from some players with FD who can prove he helped them, I stick by my assessment that it's high price snake oil. It's been over 20 years since he started selling himself as a focal dystonia guru so I won't hold my breath.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Todd Tipton
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Todd Tipton » Thu Jan 17, 2019 5:15 pm

I must admit that the reading of the material and the videos have me confused. I like Leisner's ideas on the entire body to include the spine, neck, head, shoulders, etc. Further, I've had Alexander training myself; always striving for perfection, I could always do a better job of emphasizing the whole self with my students (I certainly do, but there is no such thing as too much :P ) And many players discuss the right hand in such a way that it is difficult to know what is meant without the added benefit of face to face demonstration and also trying to explain it another way. Often, the language is an approximation of what is actually happening, or it is a way to perceive something. Depending on the other person's perspective, the intended message may or may not be delivered. That is par for the course.

And that very idea of common confusion with such subjects that I'm failing to best articulate is exactly why I cautiously admit that I am confused with Leisner's writing on large muscle groups. I'm open to the strong possibility that I am the one that missing something important here. I'm fully willing to embrace a metaphor of "falling upward" if it helps to achieve the use of the large muscles. I'm fully willing to accept the possibility that there could be some usefulness. What I am not understanding, and it isn't explained is how this is applied outside of a few isolated circumstances.

For example, consider a piece like Villa-Lobos Etude no. 4 with repetitious chords and right hand movements played as moderate 16th notes. It is clear to me in a situation like this that large muscle groups can assist (as opposed to a stiff arm where fingers are doing all the work). To be explicitly clear, the complete opposite would be a frozen hand (and even elbow) where movement from the shoulder would have to do all of the work. I can see how these exercises may benefit some people in developing good physical poise where a combination of finger movement and arm movement makes a piece such as HVL#4 less tiring.

But consider a couple of commonly occurring circumstances: alternating i and m in scale work, or right hand arpeggios. Specifically, I am not understanding how Leisner applies this concept of the large muscles to common everyday movements. Either in the reading or the videos (I forget) he states that bouncing of the hand is not desired. Yet to me, (not saying it is right or wrong) this bouncing is an example of applying large muscle groups to these common movements.

In closing, Leisner presents some ideas in using large muscle groups. I am very open to the possibilities, but at this time, I'm just not understanding how any of this is supposed to be applied.
Dr. Todd Tipton, Noda Guitar Studio
Charlotte, NC, USA (available via Skype)

guit-box
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by guit-box » Thu Jan 17, 2019 5:54 pm

I can't post videos of anything Villa Lobos on the forum for copyright reasons (It gets deleted) but go to youtube and search "David Leisner Villa Lobos" and watch Etude 7 and Etude 11. He's bouncing his arm all over the place in those pieces and he's also not doing any side stroking like he teaches. He's an okay player, but there are so many better young players than Leisner who are more musical and have better technique. He probably realized this and re-invented himself as a body and technique and focal dystonia guru. I don't know what he charges now to see guitarists with focal dystonia, but I recall someone said he insisted you take at least 4 lessons and the price tag was $1k or more. This is a scam, don't fall for it.



"fixed myself and a number of other people" -- Leisner. Who are these people, name names?
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Impresario
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Impresario » Wed Feb 20, 2019 5:05 pm

I am amazed that forum members who have proven absolutely nothing are allowed to disqualify David Leisner, a successful performer and teacher and to call him a snake-oil salesman, a scam artist and a nutcase, while their comments illustrate that they haven't understood anything of his approach.
This confirms my suspicion that the technical section of this forum is increasingly becoming a Ship of Fools, a sanctuary for delusional types and wastrels.
And it is therefore no surprise that competent players systematically abandon this ship.

guit-box
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by guit-box » Wed Feb 20, 2019 6:45 pm

Present us with a single guitarist who had focal dystonia who has returned to performing after studying with David Leisner. Don't you think these players would exist if he actually helped anyone return to performing? He's been claiming to be an expert on Focal Dystonia and touting his method for several decades now and I've seen exactly zero professional classical guitarists who attribute his method to their return to performing. I encourage someone with focal dystonia to email him and inquire about studying with him. Get a price quote and a list of referrals from 3 classical guitarists who are now performing based on his methods. Post this information here on the forum. What you'll get is a very high price tag with a minimum number of lessons he requires you to take and you may get a list of guitarists who studied with him, and they may have positive things to say, but none are fully functioning performing guitarists. Information, data, and facts matter, do your homework like I did, and then prove that I'm wrong using this information.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

robert e
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by robert e » Wed Feb 20, 2019 6:57 pm

Setting aside issues of ethics, pricing, and teaching ability, I thought it might be useful to bring up other accomplished classical players with unusually active "plucking" arms. Antigoni Goni and Marco Salcito come to mind. Their right-arm use (both play right-handed) are to my eye at least as far from orthodoxy as Leisner's. But you can't argue with results. Goni is one of my favorite musicians, in part for her exquisite tone and soulfulness (not to mention her graciousness; I also had the pleasure of seeing her draw from her bag of "extended techniques" at one recital. But I digress!)

That said, each of these three seem to be approaching arm use in slightly different ways, and as far as I know Leisner is the only one I've heard talk about it at length. I wish I could get them all in the same room to discuss this aspect of playing.




Rasqeo
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Rasqeo » Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:00 pm

I think it’s hard to argue with guit-box that the proof is in the pudding. Someone making big claims should be able to back them up with example of their success.

Impresario
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Impresario » Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:03 pm

Jason Vieaux : “David Leisner developed body/joint awareness, breathing and meditation exercises, muscle stretching, etc., along with incorporating larger muscle groups into his guitar mechanics and technique, a concept itself antithetical to what was going on in the 1990s when I was in training. But after working with David for one summer, his innovative technique has had a long lasting impact on my playing over the years.”

Eduardo Fernandez: “Every guitar student should read this book. Leisner has distilled all his experience and insights into a very readable and practical work.”

With regards to FD: he cured himself.

guit-box
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by guit-box » Wed Feb 20, 2019 11:30 pm

Rasqeo wrote:
Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:00 pm
I think it’s hard to argue with guit-box that the proof is in the pudding. Someone making big claims should be able to back them up with example of their success.
Exactly. I have no problem with his book or any guitarist who wants to use larger arm movements. Of course learning to play in a relaxed and more ergonomic way makes perfect sense. My problem with Leisner is that he charges huge $ for lessons (and at least with me he required I take 4 lessons) and all we did was swing from the elbow for 4 days. You can't play guitar this way, you have have to move your finger joints, his teaching and claims that he can fix focal dystonia are nonsense. If it wasn't nonsense you'd be posting names of guitarists with FD he's helped return to performing. In 25 years there's not 3 names of performers and their youtube videos anyone can point to that Leisner has helped? Come on.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Impresario
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Impresario » Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:38 am

From David Leisner:

"Since I am not a member of and never read comments in the Delcamp forum and do not have the time or the inclination to get involved, I have asked Jean Feys, whom I did not know until he wrote to me about this thread today and asked me to comment, to kindly post a single statement by me. This will be my only statement in this thread.

The comments of a few of the contributors were, in my opinion, extraordinarily ignorant, arrogant and disrespectful. The comments of "Guit-box" are particularly disturbing in these ways. If he (I'm assuming it's a he) or anyone had simply asked me for a list of students who have benefited from my teaching, I would have been happy to supply it. And I will do just that now. In the limited time I have available to me at the moment, here is a list of names, just off the top of my head, of musicians who I have either completely cured or significantly helped on the way to curing their focal dystonia: Guitarists - Brian Hays (who is currently funding the Johns Hopkins University/Peabody FD research program because of his experience of being cured of FD by me), Mark Ashford, Christian Verspay, Matthew Marshall, Sean Behrens, Steve Rings, Pam Kimmel, Eduardo Gonzalez, Pierluigi Serraino, Michael Black, Vincenzo (I can't remember his last name, from Italy, whose FD in the thumb disappeared within months in the early 2000's after studying with me, the fastest cure to date amongst my students), Flavio Ciatto, and a very famous guitarist who wishes to remain private about his FD experience - David Griego, flutist, Bernard Zinck, violinist, Brian Bloye, pianist, Myra Melford, pianist, Eli Wilson, percussionist, and Gustavo Peterlevitz, pianist. There are more, but these are the names I remember quickly at this moment.

Guit-box also comments that "you won't see large-muscle arm movements" when watching me on video. That is exactly the point. One begins with gross exaggeration of movement and ends with little or no excessive movement. This is described succinctly in the section, called "The Refinement Process" on p. 110-11 in my book. The very same section answers the far more respectful questions of Todd Tipton, who honestly wondered "how the large muscle ideas are applied outside of a few isolated circumstances." I believe, Todd, you will find the answer you seek in that section.

The unteachable Mr. Guit-box reports that [in the four lessons I apparently gave this person who hides his true identity behind his made-up user name] "all we did was swing from the elbow for 4 days". That aspect of the lessons would have occupied about 5 minutes' worth in the very first lesson. I am very generous with my time with FD sufferers - each of the 4 lessons is usually about 75-90 minutes long. Multiply that by 4, and you can do the math to see the actual percentage of time taken up by this one simple idea that is just the beginning of a huge amount of material that is offered in the 4 lessons. If, in fact, that was all that Guitar-box retained from his lessons with me, then he certainly did not get his money's worth. And that, I would venture to say, was not my fault.

My book was written with the utmost care and precision, and read and re-read many, many times by not only me, but the superb Oxford University Press Editor and several of my friends, for accuracy, clarity and expression. If some ideas failed to communicate through words, videos, photos and illustrations, then it is most certainly on me. However, I can also say that it is apparent in some of the comments that my book may not have been read by them with the utmost care and precision on their part. If you're going to criticize, be sure you have read everything carefully first.

It is true that the large-muscle ideas of Chapter 5 are very hard to communicate in just words. That is why the bulk of the videos on the companion website are associated with that chapter. But even with the videos, there really is no substitution for in-person, hands-on demonstration (which, in fact, I mention in the book). If you can catch me at a master class or a workshop, perhaps you'll ask me about these issues in person and have me demonstrate some things for you. I'm always happy to do that. Or you're welcome to take a private lesson from me at the "huge $" price that I charge, which virtually everyone who has ever taken a private lesson with me has felt was worth every penny. I get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time, and in the case of those who come to me with injuries of various sorts, I have a reputation for solving their problems quickly and efficiently.

Thanks for your attention, and thanks to Jean Feys for his support and for allowing me to speak through him on this forum."

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Allister Slingenberg
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Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Allister Slingenberg » Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:17 pm

so that escalated quickly...
I liked the opera very much. Everything but the music.
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