Monday, December 19, 2005

Scales Practice

It's been quite some time since I studied and analysed the left and right hand techniques of professional guitarists. Just thought of re-looking at their techniques today, with the hope of incorporating some of their better techniques into my own. As such, I pulled out every single DVD I have of professional guitarists from my collection of music materials to watch.

It came as a revelation to me that most of the differences in their techniques actually stem from their practice of scales. They probably don't practise much scales after turning professional, but I realised that the way their music sounds was still very much dependent on the way they had practised their scales in their youth.

I admit that I haven't been a strong supporter of scales practice before today, despite the fact that my teachers kept emphasising on their importance, which I only discovered today. Even if I were to practise my scales industriously before today, I wouldn't be able to perfect my technique for I didn't know the intricacies of the scale practice that I had to take note of. Comparing the way the different guitarists play, I realise that their overall poise and the amount of control they have over the music actually stems from their movements of the left and right hand movements (all the way from the upper arm to the last joint of their finger).

Most of the DVDs I watched were pretty disappointing. Of course, their music comes across to me as sincere, but I realise that there was 'something' which was holding them back in expressing the full spectrum of emotions in the music they play. And that 'something' was the technique based on the way they practised their scales. Strangely, after that, I just dug out all the scales requirement and started practising on them for hours, and thankfully, I had quite considerable progress.

However, I still wouldn't recommend musicians to whack the scales blindly and merely aiming for speed and 'surface fluency'. I now believe that scales practice is useful only when one has the correct aim of economy of finger and hand movement and at the same time, drawing out the best possible one and volume of the instrument at that particular speed.

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