David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
Forum rules
IV Laws governing the quotation/citation of music


For discussion of studies, scales, arpeggios and theory.
Impresario
Posts: 43
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2018 11:19 am

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Impresario » Sat Feb 23, 2019 8:56 pm

Leisner obtained great results as a performer, as a teacher and , last but not least, as someone who singlehandedly overcame focal dystonia.
Sadly, the posters in this thread did not achieve any such successes, neither as players, nor as FD sufferers.
It is only natural then that his post provoked feelings of envy and bitterness.
I will therefore no longer post on this thread.
Otherwise the cure would be worse than the disease, would it not?

guit-box
Posts: 1508
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by guit-box » Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:00 pm

Mark Ashford appears to be playing at a high level and I don't see any physical signs of focal dystonia. Here's a link to his website where he offers up advice and multiple links to things that helped him. No mention of Leisner except in the comment section he says he uses some of his advice but mostly his recovery was about other things he did.
http://www.markashford.com/2010/03/23/focal-dystonia/
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

guit-box
Posts: 1508
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by guit-box » Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:07 pm

DevonBadger wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 8:28 pm
My original post was meant to draw attention to the ideas on how to play in a relaxed manner. The discussion on focal dystonia seems a different topic to me, so can I suggest that anyone who wants to continue that conversation does so in a different thread. Thanks.
I think the book and his teaching on FD are inseparably linked, and clearly we're all talking about one person and his results with students and/or the effectiveness of his methods. The videos that go with the book are the same things he teaches in his lessons to FD students--the swinging from the arm, the water droplet idea, or "falling up". All the same stuff. I understand where you're coming from, I've wanted to steer comments on my threads to focus the topic, but the moderators always shoot me down. I'd be surprised if they moderators had a problem with the direction of the comments here or would think they are off-topic.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

robert e
Posts: 699
Joined: Fri Dec 11, 2015 6:49 pm

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by robert e » Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:05 pm

Tim522 wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:28 pm
I can say with absolute certainty that my fingers have more neuromuscular control if i have zero caffeine in my system.
:shock: Argh! You're absolutely right Tim. I've been "switching to decaf" for a long time, intending to go zero caffeine eventually, and have been shamefully dragging my feet about it. I LOVE coffee, but it's a question of priorities. Thanks for the reminder.

Crofty
Posts: 330
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:32 pm

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Crofty » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:47 pm

Impresario wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 8:56 pm

Sadly, the posters in this thread did not achieve any such successes, neither as players, nor as FD sufferers.
It is only natural then that his post provoked feelings of envy and bitterness.
A bizarre post altogether but the above excerpt shows remarkable disrespect to fellow forum members.

I'm sure that I can speak for all of them when I say that no such feelings were provoked on my part - and I'am still waiting for the apology, that I politely requested in my last post, for making false claims about me being involved in "multiplying attacks" on Mr Leisner. I have not made any attacks at all, let alone multiplied them.

User avatar
Tim522
Posts: 391
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2007 4:58 pm
Location: Toronto

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Tim522 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:56 pm

robert e wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:05 pm
Tim522 wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:28 pm
I can say with absolute certainty that my fingers have more neuromuscular control if i have zero caffeine in my system.
:shock: Argh! You're absolutely right Tim. I've been "switching to decaf" for a long time, intending to go zero caffeine eventually, and have been shamefully dragging my feet about it. I LOVE coffee, but it's a question of priorities. Thanks for the reminder.
I love coffee too and I know how hard it can be to quit but stay strong:)

guit-box
Posts: 1508
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by guit-box » Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:33 pm

Crofty wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:47 pm
Impresario wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 8:56 pm

Sadly, the posters in this thread did not achieve any such successes, neither as players, nor as FD sufferers.
It is only natural then that his post provoked feelings of envy and bitterness.
A bizarre post altogether but the above excerpt shows remarkable disrespect to fellow forum members.

I'm sure that I can speak for all of them when I say that no such feelings were provoked on my part - and I'am still waiting for the apology, that I politely requested in my last post, for making false claims about me being involved in "multiplying attacks" on Mr Leisner. I have not made any attacks at all, let alone multiplied them.
Agreed, a bizarre post indeed. I shared my opinion based on 1st hand experience and so did a couple other forum members. I also pointed out that not a single person with FD has come out and said Leisner's methods were the thing that helped him/her to recover. I still welcome some pro to come forward and correct me. This is far from an attack, it's debating/questioning the substance and efficacy of his methods.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Carey
Posts: 250
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 9:19 pm
Location: Central California Coast

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Carey » Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:28 am

In my experience professional musicians who have dealt with FD/ neuromuscular issues seldom want to
draw attention to that fact.

User avatar
Charles Mokotoff
Posts: 1160
Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:43 pm

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Charles Mokotoff » Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:20 pm

Carey wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:28 am
In my experience professional musicians who have dealt with FD/ neuromuscular issues seldom want to
draw attention to that fact.
That is my experience as well. It wouldn't be something you would want to advertise. Pros like to look immortal really, its part of the allure.
2017 Glenn Canin Spruce

guit-box
Posts: 1508
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by guit-box » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:15 pm

Charles Mokotoff wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:20 pm
Carey wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 1:28 am
In my experience professional musicians who have dealt with FD/ neuromuscular issues seldom want to
draw attention to that fact.
That is my experience as well. It wouldn't be something you would want to advertise. Pros like to look immortal really, its part of the allure.
This is true for pros who are playing injured. If they've actually fully "recovered", that's a different story. FD usually shuts the career down completely, so it becomes obvious when a player who used to give multiple concerts in a year has zero performances listed on their website calendar.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

User avatar
Tom Poore
Posts: 1348
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:00 pm
Location: South Euclid, Ohio, USA

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Tom Poore » Tue Feb 26, 2019 5:00 am

I’ve followed this discussion with interest. My opinion is a bit elaborate, so please bear with me.

I’ll begin by saying I’m pleased that David Leisner recovered from focal dystonia. Players who reach a high level of accomplishment have a commitment to music beyond the average ken. Having to give up playing is something not to be wished on any concert artist.

That said, I’d like to revisit an old parable that seems germane to this discussion:

Long ago, people ate meat raw. Then one day a farmer’s barn was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Surveying the charred ruins, the farmer came upon a cow that had perished in the blaze. He sliced off a piece and ate it. It was delicious, better than anything he’d ever tasted. He told everyone around. They all came over and cut themselves a slice. All agreed it was delicious. They decided that from that day on, they would always cook meat before eating it. And so every time they wanted cooked meat, they burned down a barn.

The moral here is familiar to anyone in medical research. Too often, an apparently effective treatment can be attributed to the wrong thing. This is why medical research is such a rigorous process. Researchers must sift through many possible reasons why something happened. Without sufficient rigor, it’s hard to know what is and isn’t relevant to a cure. In essence, doctors might end up burning down a barn to grill a steak.

For this reason, I’m skeptical of those who make claims unverified by carefully controlled and open observation. It’s one thing to work in private, gather success stories, and then portray yourself as an expert. It’s another thing to work with other experts, keep meticulous records, and openly report the results of all who’ve sought help from you.

In every profession we see practitioners who, far from prying eyes, seem to produce results beyond their peers. But often when their true methods come to light, their apparent success fades. For example, the secretive Bernie Madoff appeared to be an uncommonly successful investor. It wasn’t until the secrecy was lifted that he revealed himself as something more quotidian.

To be clear, Leisner makes an extraordinary claim. Here’s a passage from his book:

“My work paid off with steady progress, and by 1996, I was completely cured. Ever since then, I have been playing totally free of focal dystonia. I am also one of the few people in the world who has been able to help and cure many others with focal dystonia (not just guitarists, but players of all instruments, except brass.) Bear in mind that this condition is otherwise regarded by the medical establishment as incurable!” (Playing With Ease: pp. 4-5)

So Leisner is claiming a success rate beyond that of almost all medical experts in playing related injury. Well, he’s free to do so. But I need more evidence to accept his claim.

I’m also not encouraged by Leisner’s language in portraying the “medical establishment.” The medical community holds itself to peer reviewed standards—a process to which Leisner seems indifferent. For that reason, by the way, most medical professionals with long clinical experience in playing related injury seldom use the words “completely cured.” It’s a prudent attitude Leisner would do well to adopt.

Finally, there’s a disquieting irony being overlooked. Consider this passage from his book:

“While totally devastated on every level by this sinister condition, I pursued one specialist after another, seeking a cure. I consulted practitioners of Eastern medicine as well as Western. Unfortunately, no one was successful.” (Playing With Ease: p. 3-4)

Leisner’s frustration during this time was understandable. Yet he seems unaware that he’s now working the other side of the street. Today, he’s the practitioner to whom stricken players are coming for a cure. So it’s jarring when Leisner curtly dismisses someone who sought help and was neither cured nor improved. I expect a more solicitous response to the frustration of a failed cure, especially when it mirrors the frustration Leisner himself felt. And it might alert him to the possibility that he shares more than he’d care to admit with those who failed to help him.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA

Crofty
Posts: 330
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:32 pm

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Crofty » Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:57 am

Excellent post Tom.

Paul

User avatar
lagartija
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 11405
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:37 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts, USA

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by lagartija » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:06 pm

Crofty wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:57 am
Excellent post Tom.

Paul
What Paul said. :okok:
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

Jack Douglas
Posts: 1608
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2015 2:37 am
Location: Ashland, Va

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Jack Douglas » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:21 pm

lagartija wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:06 pm
Crofty wrote:
Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:57 am
Excellent post Tom.

Paul
What Paul said. :okok:
Plus one more! Excellent!
Richard Brune 'Artist' Cedar/Brazilian 1996

User avatar
Christopher Freitag
Posts: 681
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:46 pm
Location: New York, USA

Re: David Leisner: Playing with Ease

Post by Christopher Freitag » Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:12 pm

What I particularly like about Tom's reply (and I don't have a dog in this particular hunt) is the clear way it demonstrates that you can construct an argument or raise skepticism without resorting to "I'm right, you're wrong." Too often, the latter approach is in evidence on this forum and more generally in the world of our discourse.

Well done, Tom.
Last edited by Christopher Freitag on Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Chris Freitag

2013 German Vasquez Rubio Concert Special "Bernardi"; German spruce/Brazilian rosewood
2014 Garrett (Gary) Lee spruce/cedar double top; Brazilian rosewood

Return to “Classical Guitar technique”