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James Ashley Mayer

 

Posts: 115
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Portland, Oregon

Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. 

I started playing in 1999 while studying in Sevilla. I went "all in" and ended up with tendonitis, while playing for baile classes, that knocked me out of the game for most of the last 17 years. In the last month, I've given it another go by changing several key factors to release tension. I'm using light gauge strings and a guitar support instead of a footstool or crossed legs. Also, no protection on my nails as I'm just not playing hours per day. Oh, and I start off every practice session with 20 slow pushups until I get a burn.

Constructive feedback wanted if you have a minute.

https://youtu.be/a7eTvRgD42Q
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 15:07:29
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13344
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

Nice tone. What guitar are you using?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 15:11:54
 
James Ashley Mayer

 

Posts: 115
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Portland, Oregon

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

The guitar is a Jose Luis Postigo. I bought it, used, in Portland around 2000.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 15:16:17
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 1154
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

quote:

I went "all in" and ended up with tendonitis, while playing for baile classes, that knocked me out of the game for most of the last 17 years.

That's a bummer. What advice would you give to those who are starting out? Btw, nice to see you haven't turned your back on flamenco over these years. Nice tremolo.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 15:51:21
 
James Ashley Mayer

 

Posts: 115
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Portland, Oregon

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to devilhand

My advice is to play very lightly. As lightly as possible. Volume and power comes from technique, not physical effort. That goes for sports or anything else physical. I knew that and I still injured myself.

- Record yourself and see if you are breathing. I would sometimes realize I was holding my breath.
- You don't need super high tension strings.
- If you need more volume, it's ok to use technology (mics, amps, pickups) instead of playing harder.
- Find a way to sit where you are comfortable and not creating tension.

I just ignored tension and got used to ignoring it. Ever lay in bed and realize your face is not relaxed? It's the same here. You have to find a way to get loosened up which is difficult when concentrating. I've found that working out physically is absolutely key to loosening up my arms and hands.

If you are having trouble increasing speed when learning a new technique, it's a good bet you are not relaxed. I learned my tremolo by playing lightly as I thought of it as a delicate technique. I learned it fast and I barely use any effort when playing. I thought of picado as "powerful" so I didn't progress a the same speed (still haven't). Picado is about angle of attack, the shape of the nail, etc. It's not about putting in more physical effort to get a powerful sound.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 16:03:31
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 1154
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

quote:

ORIGINAL: James Ashley Mayer

My advice is to play very lightly. As lightly as possible. Volume and power comes from technique, not physical effort. That goes for sports or anything else physical. I knew that and I still injured myself.

- Record yourself and see if you are breathing. I would sometimes realize I was holding my breath.
- You don't need super high tension strings.
- If you need more volume, it's ok to use technology (mics, amps, pickups) instead of playing harder.
- Find a way to sit where you are comfortable and not creating tension.

I just ignored tension and got used to ignoring it. Ever lay in bed and realize your face is not relaxed? It's the same here. You have to find a way to get loosened up which is difficult when concentrating. I've found that working out physically is absolutely key to loosening up my arms and hands.

If you are having trouble increasing speed when learning a new technique, it's a good bet you are not relaxed. I learned my tremolo by playing lightly as I thought of it as a delicate technique. I learned it fast and I barely use any effort when playing. I thought of picado as "powerful" so I didn't progress a the same speed (still haven't). Picado is about angle of attack, the shape of the nail, etc. It's not about putting in more physical effort to get a powerful sound.

Thanks for the advice. I'll absorb and integrate it into my practice routine and playing. Do you think holding the breath causes unnecessary tension in hand and arm muscles?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 16:32:00
 
James Ashley Mayer

 

Posts: 115
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Portland, Oregon

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to devilhand

quote:

Do you think holding the breath causes unnecessary tension in hand and arm muscles?


Absolutely. On a long and difficult piece, it adds the element of panic or impatience to get that breath out. Breathing is key and I kinda suck at it but am getting better.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 16:35:03
 
JasonM

Posts: 1808
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

Nice playing James. Especially after so long..wow. I think Grisha was saying he likes to bang out a hundred pushups before he walks out on stage... or something like that lol! I’d probably drop my guitar when I went to pick it up.

Btw, went you building guitars back in the day or went to a luthier school or something?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 16:59:11
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 1154
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

quote:

ORIGINAL: James Ashley Mayer

quote:

Do you think holding the breath causes unnecessary tension in hand and arm muscles?


Absolutely. On a long and difficult piece, it adds the element of panic or impatience to get that breath out. Breathing is key and I kinda suck at it but am getting better.

I used to breath into my chest until I came across the so called diaphragmatic breathing a few years ago. Now I'm more of a belly breather. Basically its about breathing into the stomach.
I just googled it. Different sources say its used for a relaxation and meditation. Looks like diaphragmatic breathing is the correct way of breathing while practicing and playing difficult passages.

quote:

Oh, and I start off every practice session with 20 slow pushups until I get a burn.

I wonder what are the benefits of doing push ups before a practice session?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 17:19:23
 
James Ashley Mayer

 

Posts: 115
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Portland, Oregon

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to JasonM

quote:

Btw, went you building guitars back in the day or went to a luthier school or something?


I was looking at starting to build, at one point. Was hanging out with John Shelton (Shelton-Farretta guitars) back when he was living in Portland. Life changed and I never followed through with it.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 17:52:09
 
James Ashley Mayer

 

Posts: 115
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Portland, Oregon

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to devilhand

quote:

I wonder what are the benefits of doing push ups before a practice session?


I used to do pushups before playing baseball as it loosened my arm up for throwing. I still do it before playing competitive dodgeball for the same reason. Also, flat-handed pushups are a great way to stretch out the fingers.

Try it, do a set of pushups, slowly till you get a nice solid burn. Do it until I you can't do another. Wait a few minutes then try playing the guitar. I think you'll find you are more relaxed without losing any control.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 17:55:02
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 18:17:27
 
kitarist

Posts: 1456
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

quote:

Oh, and I start off every practice session with 20 slow pushups until I get a burn.


Man, I can only do about 5 of them



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Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 18:30:31
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 1154
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to kitarist

quote:

Man, I can only do about 5 of them

Is that you in the picture? I cant even pose like in the picture 2.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 18:54:51
 
kitarist

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RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to devilhand

quote:

Is that you in the picture?


NO, just some random pic for illustration of the pushups I had in mind

Also, normally I would do this with parallettes, so I don't bang my head on the floor and to get more range.



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Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 25 2020 19:33:33
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 1154
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RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to kitarist

quote:

Also, normally I would do this with parallettes, so I don't bang my head on the floor and to get more range.

If I were you, I'd do flat handed push ups as James Ashley Mayer suggested.

quote:

Also, flat-handed pushups are a great way to stretch out the fingers.


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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 26 2020 16:26:00
 
kitarist

Posts: 1456
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RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

quote:

Also, flat-handed pushups are a great way to stretch out the fingers.


Stretching should be done after a 'workout', be it guitaristic or weights - not before. Cold stretching is bad, and what is described above (within the context of doing pushups before playing guitar) sure sounds like stretching of cold fingers. Don't do that; warm them up first, and ideally do finger stretching, if you really need to, after practicing.

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Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 26 2020 18:18:49
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 1154
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to kitarist

quote:

Stretching should be done after a 'workout', be it guitaristic or weights - not before. Cold stretching is bad, and what is described above (within the context of doing pushups before playing guitar) sure sounds like stretching of cold fingers. Don't do that; warm them up first, and ideally do finger stretching, if you really need to, after practicing.

Reliable source recommends stretching before, during and after workout.
I think I read about stretching cold muscles. I try to warm up my hand and forearm muscles by massaging with my hand. I also use a spiky massage ball for stimulating blood flow in my hand and forearm. I don't know if my hand and forearm get warm enough after that.

If we have to stretch only after practicing, what should we do before practicing? Start practicing with cold muscles slowly until my muscles get warm?
Could you recommend good warm up exercises without guitar?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 26 2020 22:18:51
 
kitarist

Posts: 1456
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to devilhand

quote:

what should we do before practicing?


Warm up. Search the foro, this came up fairly recently.

quote:

Reliable source recommends stretching before


What source is that and based on what science?

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Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 26 2020 23:13:31
 
JasonM

Posts: 1808
Joined: Dec. 8 2005
From: Baltimore

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to devilhand

I use the pushup handles (Perfect Pushup) because doing them flat handed gives me a super sharp pain in my hand and wrist. I think it’s a common problem and the handles make it a bit more challenging as well.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 27 2020 1:46:58
 
James Ashley Mayer

 

Posts: 115
Joined: Jul. 7 2003
From: Portland, Oregon

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

Well, what works for me may not work for everyone. I've done a lot of things wrong and can tell you that I absolutely need to have some form of physical exertion to loosen up before playing. Pushups provides that plus it stretches out the hands. I used to put my palms flat against a wall and lean in to stretch them.

Two weekends ago, I was pulling nails with a hammer and catspaw/prybar. After an a couple of hours of that, I played for a bit and found that I was effectively warmed up and loose.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 27 2020 14:53:50
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 1154
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to kitarist

quote:

ORIGINAL: kitarist

quote:

what should we do before practicing?


Warm up. Search the foro, this came up fairly recently.

quote:

Reliable source recommends stretching before


What source is that and based on what science?

This is an excerpt from a book Stretching Anatomy by Arnold G. Nelson & Jouko Kokkonen.
It says " ...during warm up before a workout routine". The thing is we have to differenciate a workout from a warm up first. Otherwise, we'll end up talking past each other. Warm up is self explanatory. To me, workout would be the actual playing, performing or practicing. As a beginner, I spend most of my time practicing. So practicing is my workout. For advanced players workout equals playing or performing. Anyhow, thanks for the hint. Stretching cold muscles are no-go.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 27 2020 15:34:02
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13344
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to kitarist

quote:

ORIGINAL: kitarist

quote:

Also, flat-handed pushups are a great way to stretch out the fingers.


Stretching should be done after a 'workout', be it guitaristic or weights - not before. Cold stretching is bad, and what is described above (within the context of doing pushups before playing guitar) sure sounds like stretching of cold fingers. Don't do that; warm them up first, and ideally do finger stretching, if you really need to, after practicing.


Stretching IS a warm up to most of the world. Maybe the issue is the type of “stretching” being referred to? First thing in martial arts class was always breathing and then stretching, bending, calisthenics, a good 10 or 15 minutes of that (I was 10 years old ). I remember the most grueling things were like holding a standing leg kick and such for several minutes, really burning. Anyway for guitar, I always play something fairly easy to start, often palo libre, to warm up and then I am usually ready to go by second or third song. My “cool down” normally involves wrapping cables and breaking down sound gear.

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CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 27 2020 16:05:29
 
kitarist

Posts: 1456
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RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to Ricardo

ok. I can't say I stretch my fingers much, it is more about warming up.

Also, if I try what James says he does " put my palms flat against a wall and lean in to stretch them" - I will highly likely injure myself. Personal anatomy differences play a big role in anecdotal evidence for what works without an issue, if particular anecdotes end up being outliers statistically.

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Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 27 2020 16:15:20
 
kitarist

Posts: 1456
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RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to devilhand

quote:

ORIGINAL: devilhand

quote:

ORIGINAL: kitarist

What source is that and based on what science?

This is an excerpt from a book Stretching Anatomy by Arnold G. Nelson & Jouko Kokkonen.
It says " ...during warm up before a workout routine". The thing is we have to differenciate a workout from a warm up first. Otherwise, we'll end up talking past each other. Warm up is self explanatory. To me, workout would be the actual playing, performing or practicing. As a beginner, I spend most of my time practicing. So practicing is my workout. For advanced players workout equals playing or performing. Anyhow, thanks for the hint. Stretching cold muscles are no-go.





I have this one, it is good. Hmm, they do say that in the introduction. I think they still mean that you should be stretching warm muscles, not stretching cold (because of the higher risk of injury to muscle and tendons; that's a known relationship). I think there has been a general move by practitioners away from advocating stretching cold (used to be the standard to stretch before physical activity) in the last 10-15 years, by my observation in a few fields (weight lifting; ballet; gymnastics); i.e. practice is catching up to science.

EDIT: Here's one that gets right at the relationship between risk of injury and temperature: Increased risk of muscle tears below physiological temperature ranges



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Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 27 2020 17:10:56
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 1154
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to kitarist

quote:

I think they still mean that you should be stretching warm muscles, not stretching cold

Yes. I also understood it that way.

As for the relationship between risk of injury and temperature, the study sheds light on questions like How cold is cold for stretching. I would say hand muscles are peripheral and need to be warmed up. I wonder whether shoulder, forearm and upperarm muscles are peripheral.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 27 2020 22:06:09
 
Andy Culpepper

Posts: 2955
Joined: Mar. 30 2009
From: NY, USA

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

Nice playing and I agree with Ricardo: great tone.

Apologies if it seems like I'm spamming this guy's videos but Brandon Acker has a really nice video with regards to posture and breathing:



I know most flamenco players don't sit like that but maybe it's a hidden benefit of the traditional flamenco posture?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 28 2020 1:11:11
 
kitarist

Posts: 1456
Joined: Dec. 4 2012
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to kitarist

quote:

Warm up.


Here's a nice video about warmup I came across today. It is geared towards violinists, but basically all of it applies to guitarists as well. The finger-tapping is especially cool.



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Konstantin
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2020 6:22:45
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 1154
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to kitarist

She said muscles in our fingers, which is not correct. As far as I know, fingers have no muscles. Except for that the whole video is good. Helpful exercises. I'm gonna use this together with another 2 videos and design my own warm up routine out of them. The 2nd video is from Grisha.

http://www.foroflamenco.com/tm.asp?m=138798&appid=&p=&mpage=1&key=warmup&tmode=&smode=&s=#138907

Here's the 3rd video from Greg Irwin



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2020 14:02:58
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 3354
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
 

RE: Fandangos clip, feedback solicited. (in reply to James Ashley Mayer

quote:

Constructive feedback wanted if you have a minute.


I think head-neck relationship is important. Try to keep your head over your body, not in front of it, but do that without force or tension. The way to achieve that is to not pull it forward and down.... Take a photo or still and put a piece of paper over the head, look at the body and think where the head should be. Then move the paper and see where it is... do the same the other way round, look at the head and cover the body with the paper.

In the video Andy Culpepper posted about posture that guy says "head over heart, heart over hips". That's not a bad way to put it, but again, without force or tension.

I don't really like the idea of "posture" as it seems like a static concept. If you can find the so-called "right posture" you then have to hold it and never move! I think the relationship between parts is more important. People can have so-called "good posture" but be stiff and rigid and with pain resulting from that, and others can have so-called "bad posture" but be loose and relaxed.

I see many good players sitting badly, hunched over the guitar (we often can't see this because we tend to watch from the front), but their hands, arms, shoulders and necks are loose and relaxed and they play brilliantly. Players who sit with one leg crossed over the other really often rotate the pelvis back and sit on their coccyx, and although as I said if their hands and upper body are moving well they may not have any problems from that.... yet. Sitting like that over time will inevitably strain the muscles in the back, and many players do suffer from back problems. One tour in the late 90's I remember PDL was using a footstool under his right foot as he was apparently having some back problem at the time, and Vicente Amigo had to have surgery for a back problem.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Mar. 29 2020 14:43:08
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