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Muscle tension

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(@electric-gypsy)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 9
Topic starter  

Hello all

I've always read articles written by Jamie Andreas about muscle tension and always thought (with a very big dose of arrogance-agreed) that it was a situation that didn't concern me. However, I read one of those articles again three days ago and it just came to my mind that maybe, just maybe...I could be playing without even knowing that there is tension in my body. Call it awareness or paranoia, it's a bit of both actually.
The thing is that, even if I'd be disappointed to learn I've been doing things wrong, we'll all agree that it'd be stupid to go on if there was actually any tension. I've tried one or two things that has been mentioned in the articles (for my right hand) and nothing about it so far.
I know all this may sound a bit confused right now so I'll just go on with my question:
Is there anyone who has a "trick" to "discover your discomfort" and figure out if there's any tension in your body? If so, could you kindly share it :wink: . I know you "just have to relax" but I'm telling myself that I might have actually "memorized"/got used to the tension...hence why I want to try anything to help me figure that out. I've played in front of a mirror too and found nothing wrong with how I was doing.
It might just be in my head and if it's the case, then I hope this post can help someone else so that it doesn't get labeled as useless.

Thanks in advance for any help and any time spent answering.


   
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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840
 

ÃŽt may be just me, but I find that, if I'm learning something, I'm under tension. It's only when I've mastered it that I can relax and enjoy it.

Maybe it's just a part of the learning process - awareness tends to create "tension" - you're concentrating on something, your body and mind are both active and attentive, things that are difficult when you're totally relaxed.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
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(@kingpatzer)
Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2171
 

While much of what Jamie says worthwhile, his focus on muscle tension is, in my mind, entirely over worked.

This isn't to say that tension isn't a bad thing, or that it isn't limiting. But Jamie writes as if having tense shoulders is as limiting as only having 1 arm for a guitar player.

As a relatively experienced teacher myself, I find his focus here to be a little to narrow.

Good form and proper technique do go hand in hand, and it is very difficult if not impossible to play well if one is not holding the guitar correctly or is overly tense, etc.

At the same time, becoming a relaxed player with good form takes time and comes pretty naturally to someone who spends the time practicing with good form while gaining confidence with their playing.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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(@mooseh)
Trusted Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 40
 

I've never really posted any advise in here because in all honesty there are far more people that are far more experienced than me here, but I thought I would offer some anyway :P

I personally have had no formal training whatsoever on the guitar or the drums which I also play but I've recently took the part of teacher for both my gf and my friend who are learning drums and guitar respectively, and the biggest thing holding them back that i've noticed is they tense up because they are incredibly nervous. After an hour of practising with each their confidence grew and you could see the tension ebbing away.

All in all I would say that the tension is linked with confidence, and I know for a fact that if I'm playing and not getting it how I want to sound I begin to get frustrated and it all gets even worst, but I find the more I practise the less likely these situations occur so I would say kingpatzer hit the nail on the head really.

Looking at it thats a rather long post to agree with someone but I thought I would offer my thoughts from the perspective of someone who has had no training.

http://www.myspace.com/happinessgunpoint


   
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(@oenyaw)
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 395
 

Eh, just have a beer! 8)

Brain-cleansing music for brain-numbing times in a brain dead world
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 cnev
(@cnev)
Famed Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4459
 

I think it's a combination of form and confidence or lack of nervousness, and I have to agree with King and Greybeard. I always thought jamie's thoughts on the tension thing were a little over the top but I do agree with Grey that when learning I also seem to tense up until I really feel comfortable with the piece.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


   
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(@electric-gypsy)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 9
Topic starter  

Eh, just have a beer! 8)

Should have thought about that... :wink:

Well, thanks to you all for the answers. Just to make it clear again, I do feel comfortable with how I play, it just occurred to me that there could be a "memorized tension", that Jamie Andreas talks about, in my body. From what I've read, I guess it's not that much of a problem as long as it's not overly tensed. Also, glad to hear that it's part of the learning process since thinking that maybe I shouldn't have been that tensed when learning things, was what first came to my mind when I read the article.

I guess I should just stop worrying about it, get a beer, and on with the practice then.
Thanks again for the answers guys.


   
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(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5349
 

Didn't Jamie also suggest wearing gloves unless the temperature outside was over 23 degrees C?


   
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(@electric-gypsy)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 9
Topic starter  

Didn't Jamie also suggest wearing gloves unless the temperature outside was over 23 degrees C?

Maybe I wouldn't have taken it all that seriously if I had read that then :wink:


   
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