Watch the Guitar Physiology online guitar lesson by Bruce Arnold from Guitar Physiology Survival Guide
Welcome to Guitar Physiology!
Through my over 30 years of teaching and the problems I've personally had with repetitive stress injuries, I've figured out many answers to technique problems on the guitar. But the best thing is to avoid those problems in the first place and that is what I'd like to show you here. Now some of the suggestions you will find in the DVD may seem odd and some are quite new.
The overall idea is to move your body in the most natural way when you are playing. It is only through this type of movement that you can ensure that you develop a technique that can be used for a lifetime, without injury. I know these techniques work because they have given me years of pain free playing, and my students have had fruitful careers in music with no physical problems and have developed phenomenal technical ability on the guitar.
Keep in mind that the techniques presented will in many cases fly in the face of the way your favorite guitarist plays or what you have read in a magazine is the "right" way to play. But just because your favorite guitarist plays one way doesn't mean it will work for you. Everyone has different sized bodies and hands. What works for a person with long fingers and arms could be completely wrong if you have a totally different build. You need to develop a technique that takes your specific dimensions into mind. Also keep in mind that behind the scenes many musicians suffer from repetitive stress injuries while at the same time the media is recommending that you play like them.
Figuring out how to play correctly isn't easy and many professionals think it's just their bodies giving up on them when it's really the technique they are using. How many times have you seen musicians wearing wrist or elbow warmers? They are not wearing these because they are cool; they are wearing them because there is a problem. How many times have you seen a musician going through stretching exercises on or off stage? These are all signs that there are deeper problems. If you are playing correctly in most cases you don't need a regimen of stretching or therapeutic devices to be worn on your body.
Of course, In some cases these things will be appropriate. Take the instance of someone who has a lot of body tension that has built up through the years. Yoga exercises or some gentle stretching can help these people to get to a more harmonious place with their bodies.
Many players try to use tension to limit motion and gain speed. They compensate for this tension by trying to build muscle mass to counteract the stress on the body. This is no long term regimen for fast technique. It may work a few years for a teenaged player but as you get older your body will not be able to continue with this type of punishment. I've seen way too many cases of great guitarists turning to other occupations because they have totally blown out their wrist and elbow on their picking hand. Plainly speaking, there is never a case in which tension is the answer.
There will always be situations not covered in this Guitar Technique course that come up. Some students are just prone to issues of how to interface with the guitar correctly. Sometimes the answers can be simple and sometimes they are complex. In most cases I need to physically see the person's problem to address it correctly.
I usually don't recommend trying to change both your right and left hand at the same time unless you are a complete beginner. Complete beginners know nothing else so they work fine with starting with correct technique in both hands. But for a person who realizes that a new technique is the only way forward either because they have injured themselves or their technical ability has stagnated, it's best to change one hand at a time. This is because it is traumatic and frustrating to start all over with both hands; doing one at a time is a more rewarding approach.
Before I changed to the technique found in this course I had constant problems. I also had the situation that the more I practiced the worse I played. This was caused by misusing my muscles so they became fatigued. I also found that if I played a gig I'd play great for the 1st set and get worse and worse as the night went on. Again my muscles were getting fatigued. If this sounds familiar then you've come to the right place to solve these problems.
Lastly remember that the way musicians play hasn't been completely codified. It is being honed as we speak. All musicians can always refine their technique to a higher place. The concepts presented here are time tested over 30 years but I'm always refining my practice technique to get guitarists to a higher point faster, so keep this in mind.