Concepts for Musicians

One cannot escape technique. Thinking about music is important, but unless you decide to be a composer/arranger, you are going to need to spend some time on your instrument. If you wanted to juggle 6 balls, visualize all you want. You have to develop timing and technique.


For instance you may have decided you want to only play folk songs on a guitar – you have learned 6 basic chords and can play them while strumming without killing your fingers. You have achieved your goal but in the future you will be limited to these type of chords, strumming style and whatever technique you have acquired playing in this way. You may decide not to compose anything in a different way as you would not be able to play it on your instrument. You may decide 4 part classical guitar transcriptions are now fascinating and you want to dive in. Your basic strumming style and 6 basic guitar chords are not going to do you much good and you will have to start from scratch.


Ending of Drones by j. holiday © 2014


Learning basic technique on your instrument, even if for now you only want to play 6 chords will never be a waste of time.


This is probably the most I will talk about technique. I will probably point out various things I might play on one of the videos as possibly something NOT to do. Technique is something we can all learn and yes having a great teacher helps, but the work and time must be put into it by you. What s hard to teach is concepts and expressing yourself, playing with other musicians and putting everything together under pressure of performance. These things are what I will try to focus on.


I think of instruments like typewriters. You learn basic technique and WHAT you type is up to you. Greeting card poetry, a journal, a science fiction series, a political speech, a play.


For those of you just starting out – there may be a bit of physical pain involved. If you are pushing down strings you will be using way to much muscle and tendons to get the job done and it will hurt. More experienced players have developed muscles and know just how much pressure to use for the task. Every instrument has its own physical challenges. Holding up a violin with your chin, embouchure for a double reed, protecting your tendons on an acoustic bass, developing carpal tunnel on a piano and so on.


For your reward for reading this far, here is a recording of my composition, Drones. I wrote 7 pieces about the lives of Bees and this is what I had in mind for this piece.


This speaks of the sadness of being a drone, hearing their call and realizing their purpose.  As the queen leaves the hive for the first and last time flying miles straight up in the air, the drones follow to mate with her. Then they return to the hive where their one and only job is done.  The harmonic energy towards the end of the piece evokes their moment of joy.  Then they go back to being a drone.



Back to technique…


For the more experienced players, you may of realized that this never ends. There is always cleaner, more relaxed, more intuitive ways you can play your instrument. And then there can be physical problems, getting older, and other types of human problems. I don’t mean to be Mr. Bummer, but I have noticed a decrease in some of my speed but an increase in concentration and the ability to make better musical decisions when performing. At least, I believe they are better decisions….



I will try to make a video today on my multi-level exercise I just call the Variation Exercise.


It is a multi- level, simple to complex exercise anyone can do, It helps you to compose and create patterns and improves timing and memory. I have had much success with this when showing it to players that have studied with me.