Thoughts on Technique, Mechanics and Adjustment Points

Thoughts on Technique, Mechanics and Adjustment Points

by Stanley Alexandrowicz (DMA, Manhattan School of Music)

Correct and efficient technique is the “starting point” and pre-requisite for any type of musicality or interpretation. Technique should be thought of as a “higher level” stemming from the root-source of “mechanics.”

Mechanics may be defined as “the efficient use of the hands, fingers, muscles, posture, etc. to attain a fluid movement” which, is the pre-requisite for Technique – which may defined as “use of the player’s skills to express the stated and unstated (inherent) features of a musical composition as directed by the composer.” Efficient Mechanics is essentially based on the proper use of basic geometry.

There are many “adjustment points” a player may make when approaching his/her instrument. These vary from instrument to instrument and must be understood (especially by the teacher) to “situate correctly” the student in relation to his instrument. A flutist has a relatively limited number of adjustment points, as the flute is held stable in the hands, whereas the piano has inherently more: the height and width of the seat, the distance the player sits from the piano, the position/posture of the shoulders, the curvature at the elbow, etc.

The guitar in fact has even more “adjustment points” as the guitar is moveable in relation to the player’s body, and can even be additionally adjusted with a smaller or larger scale-length, fingerboard width, etc… It can be raised or lowered (in relation to the player’s body) and altered by the neck-angle (in relation to the floor). Some players choose to hold the guitar in an almost “cello-like” posture in contrast to the (more) “standard” Bream or Segovia pose. The guitar may be altered these days even by the addition of an “arm-rest” (employed by British builder Gary Southwell on his ultra-modern A-Series guitars), and the numerous “foot-stool alternatives” often give the player a greater degree of “angle adjustment” in his relation to the instrument.

Practice-Right : Wrist Alignment and Position Correction Aid

The device Practice-Right (developed by Serbian guitarist Stevan Jovic) significantly addresses one of the major “Adjustment Areas” (right-hand stance), and, especially for the novice player, will help him/her develop a good habit of maintaining an efficient right-hand position from the start.

Practice-Right - Wrist Alignment and Position Correction Aid

Practice-Right – Wrist Alignment and Position Correction Aid

As we all should know, the muscles themselves essentially are employed by habit (as should be established by the teacher) – what one does repeatedly becomes “the norm” (whether good or bad) and the “muscular habit” feels comfortable (whether or not it is maximally efficient). This is the basis of “Alexander Technique” – the efficient, logical, and natural use of the muscles and body.

All this being said, “sitting and positioning oneself with the guitar” is a very complex matter!

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Technique, Mechanics and Adjustment Points

  1. There are many good reasons to be skeptical of a product like this. For instance, aren’t there players that hold their wrists in a different angle than that which this device would produce, e.g. Pepe Romero? For that matter, don’t many players alter the angle of their wrist as a way of producing varying dynamics and timbres e.g. Denis Azabagic?

    These quick concerns aside, the most troubling aspect of this blog post is the author’s reference to the Alexander Technique in a way that betrays a gross misunderstanding of the work. Yes, one gets used to habits and will feel “comfortable” using them, whether or not the action is really efficient. That’s true, and I’m sure Alexander teachers would agree. So would most people. All the author is observing is that old habits are hard to break, thus you should start correctly. That’s not specific to the Alexander Technique.

    The problem, though, is the inference that the use of a rigid external corrective device is compatible with the Alexander Technique’s goals. It’s not. Alexander work teaches and communicates through touch. The student learns by *feeling*—with the aid of the teacher’s highly developed sensitivity—what is most efficient and effortless.

    Consider, an Alexander teacher guides a student up from sitting to standing with soft hands, compassion, and their own well-balanced self-use. The student then breathes, feels light, lengthens and feels better. Now, could you imagine replacing the teacher with some kind of mechanical yoke designed to force the student into the “correct” path to standing? The student would learn nothing, would be burdened with another compulsion for how they are “supposed” to act, and some percentage of the students would probably get hurt.

    Dr. Alexandrowicz correctly observes the importance of the teacher in establishing good habits, and further states that “’sitting and positioning oneself with the guitar’” is a very complex matter!” Quite so. He should have left it at that, and refrained from endorsing a product that teaches nothing, and replaces the priority of developing sensitivity with the command of obeying a mechanical device.

    1. Practice-Right is not a rigid single position tool, but a flexible tool used to add an appropriate level of guidance based on the individual and the concept of the instructor with whom they are studying.

      Practice-Right’s intention is not to define a single hand position as the one and only end-all way of playing. The idea of Practice-Right is to help the beginner guitarist understand and create good habits based on the basic underlying principle of any good posture. Of course as the player progresses, the hand position adjusts to the player’s personal style, but the foundation of the hand position – a raised wrist – remains the same.

      It is commonly known among guitar teachers who work with beginners that they tend to collapse the wrist against the guitar in an attempt to feel more secure, and in some cases to physically hold the guitar in place. This collapsed posture not only cramps the hand and prevents development of proper technique, but can be harmful and create future injuries.

      Practice-Right was never intended to be a replacement for a teacher, but to be used as a teaching aid, a reminder for the student in the time between lessons when the teacher is not present to remind them about the importance of an elevated wrist. Our goal at Practice-Right is to help our users, and promote a healthy way of learning and practicing the guitar. Our product is comfortable (not binding or mechanical in any way), easy to use, adjustable (the product has a bendable core which can be adjusted to the teacher’s or student’s preference) and acts as a gentle guide for the creation of good habits. Practice-Right has received endorsements from some of the biggest names in guitar and we encourage everyone to visit our testimonial page at We are confident that our product will continue to help guitarists all around the world on the pathway to achieving musical expression through an understanding of the basic principles of a proper hand position.

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