micha wrote: ↑
Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:21 pm
In 'Classic guitar technique' by A. Shearer, Franco Colombo (1959), I read all the time that fingers of the left hand must be 'held down; they should move only when necessary'. It is clear to me what this means, but I would like to understand
- what is the general idea behind this rule?
- should I always apply it, for example, when learning a new piece? If not, what could be the exceptions?
A lot of beginner guitar students, perhaps feeling overwhelmed by the complexity and the initial learning curve, tend to instinctively look for simple universal recipes. If you are reading a textbook as opposed to studying with a good live teacher who can correct and explain, the inherent limitations of the written word combined with the lack of corrective feedback make this an even more common occurrence.
That is to say, (a) you are misinterpreting the scope of validity of this statement, and (b) don't feel bad as this is almost unavoidable under the circumstances. Oh, and (c) Shearer used clearer formulations in his later 3-volume work "Learning the Classic Guitar".
So, even so Shearer used clearer formulations in "Learning the Classic Guitar" which might be a better method to use, let's stick to this 1959 method and explore what is this "rule" and what is its context and scope of validity/applicability:
In the book (volume 1), the "never lift [finger] until necessary" instruction is mentioned four times - always aimed at complete beginners
. What about context?
The first two times, it is twice on the same page 18 which introduces "The Left Hand" - for the very first time. As evident from the single-string exercise on the same page cycling E-F-G-F-E (or later F-G-F-G) and marking F as the finger to "hold" (i.e. "never lift"), it is in the context of learning to keep a left hand finger down when it makes sense given the note sequence
The third time, it is in a section on pivot and guide fingers - this is the exact context and the instruction here is almost tautological; it certainly is self-explanatory - using a pivot finger or guide fingers means you will not be lifting it/them [completely] off the string
The fourth time, it is in a section on playing repeated chords (four-note groupings) giving instruction on how to play Etude no.12. Looking at the Etude, this instruction is applied in three contexts - the one where the top note sequence makes it make sense just like in the first two instances above; the one about pivot/guide fingers, and the one from Julian Ward's explanation of how teachers would sometimes say this when trying to prevent beginner's student from killing notes prematurely
- here because all chords are repeatedly sounded several times before progressing to a different chord, so if you are keeping the C major shape don't lift your fingers between successive soundings of that same chord.
In summary, "never lift [finger] until necessary" was given as an instruction to complete beginners AND it is not applicable to all contexts but rather in specific three contexts - all to do with keeping a finger down if it makes sense given (1) the note duration, (2) the notes sequence and (3) the left-hand shapes sequence.
In general: Any time you come across a phrase that makes you wonder or does not seem to describe what you see from fluent guitarists in practice, examine what that phrase sounds like if read not as a description of what to do, but as a correction of bad technique
For elaboration on this see my more recent post below.