Free Download - 17 Essential Strum Patterns PDF
by Jamie Andreas
"I want to become the music!, I shouted,
after running around the house to let off steam from my excitement.
I had just finished a practice/play session, learning the first
couple of songs in my new guitar playing life, age 14. The songs
were by my idol, Bob Dylan. That last practice session was, up
to that time, my most intense experience of the great power there
was in music, and the great pleasure there was in being a person
who could play music. So, after running around the house, I came
upon one of my brothers in his room, as I shouted at him, and
declared quite triumphantly, "I want to become the music".
Of course, he shared my enthusiasm. I believe his reply was "Umm,
Why do we play music? What is the root, the fundamental thing
we are really doing when we play and practice music?
We play music because a great desire has been awakened in us;
and that great desire is to become the music. It is this desire,
which for some is a mild prompting to explore such a possibility,
and for others an overwhelming urge and need to possess completely
the ability to become the music, that makes us pick up our instrument
to practice and play. Fundamentally, when we practice and play,
we are in the process of becoming the music.
The world needs such individuals, who devote themselves to becoming
music, because the world needs music. It must have it, there is
no doubt about it. And so, being devoted to developing ourselves
as worthy to become our music so that we may offer it to the world,
it is important to understand what we are really doing, or perhaps
what we should be doing, so that we may really, and completely,
become the music.
We must understand the word "become". What is it to
become anything? It is to "be", so that what we desire
will "come". It is to so dispose ourselves that we create
the conditions, inside and outside, for something to come into
being. That is what it is to "become" something. If
I want to "become" a doctor, I have to do certain things
so that the condition, in which I will be a doctor, will become
a reality. So the things I must do are the things necessary for
it to "come". So, in the process of becoming a doctor,
you will see me do things like going to school, studying hard,
and so forth. Similarly, there are certain things we do to become
the music. The whole question, really, for musicians, is how to
"be" so that the music is able to "come".
For myself, I often learn the hard way. I have seen firsthand
some of the ways you don't want to be if you want the music to
come! I remember when I first started to perform. I was in the
middle of a big concert, and I forgot the music! I was really
mad, and totally embarrassed. I tried to start again from the
beginning, but I hit this same spot and had a blank where the
music was supposed to be! The reason was very simple: in my practice,
I did not completely become that music. I had become it up to
a point, but not far enough. I learned from that experience the
importance of one particular aspect of becoming the music: becoming
the music in a mental way, that is, knowing the music, note for
note, consciously and clearly, so we could say the notes and fingers
if need be. That is one of the aspects of becoming the music,
one of the things we must do.
This mental "knowing" aspect of becoming the music
is different for various styles. You certainly don't need to know
all the names of the notes you are playing if you are just strumming
and singing, for instance! You will simply have to know the chord
shapes, and the order they come in. All the styles of music range
in complexity from very simple, like strumming and singing, to
staggeringly complex, as in classical guitar. In the concert I
mentioned, I was playing a fairly complex piece of 20th century
music on the classical guitar, and I needed to have the note by
note awareness always necessary for a classical guitarist. But,
even if you are a non-reading rock guitarist, you still must have
the appropriate mental conception of your music, every guitarist
does, as appropriate to the demands of the style. For instance,
a rock guitarist may not think in terms of note names, but they
will be thinking in terms of scale and chord shapes, as well as
other finger patterns. They will have a sense of the form of the
song. They need to do whatever is necessary to know, consciously
and clearly, where they are in the song.
One other aspect of becoming the music is also common to all
styles of music, although the degree needed will range from moderate
to extreme, and that is our oneness with the physical process
of becoming the music. Depending on the technical sophistication
of the music we play, our need to commune with our bodies as they
function on the instrument will vary. The higher the technical
demand, the more need there is to commune with the body during
practice, during the becoming of that music on a physical level.
When something is new for us, the demand for our attention in
this area is always great. That is why Principled Players understand
two things: mis-handling of the physical aspect of playing is
what effectively prevents most people from beginning the process
of becoming the music, and the continued development of awareness
in this area is a mandatory part of creating vertical growth in
our playing, regardless of our stage of development.
When we practice, the music itself is imprinted into our bodies,
that is why we sometimes say "I have this piece of music
in my fingers now". It is repetition, with focus, that imprints
the music into our bodies, that enables us to "become the
music" on a physical level. We usually call this "muscle
memory", and there are pieces my body knows so well that,
if I had another set of hands to type with, I could be playing
them while I write this!
The one area that does not vary, the one way in which we must
become the music with the utmost fervor, no matter what style
we play, no matter how simple or complex the music might be, is,
of course, the emotional dimension of our involvement with the
music. Our emotional connection to the music is the crux of the
matter (still, as players, we must realize there can be no expression
of the emotional connection until the physical connection is achieved).
Our emotional connection to the music is what we are really communicating
to people when we play, and that is what, ultimately, they want
to receive when they receive our music. They want to know, they
want to experience, their emotional selves, and that is done through
another emotional self breathing life into the music. We cannot
breathe life into the music when we play unless we have breathed
the music into our beings when we practice. This is why I am always
emphasizing the complete focus of attention during practice, focus
on the physical, mental and emotional dimensions.
The music exists first as a thought in our minds. This thought
then unites with the desire and the emotional feeling for the
music. At that moment, the music is literally "breathed into"
the body. The energy taken in through the breath drawn with feeling
for the music, is what brings the music into our bodies so that
it may be given life, through the action of the muscles and bones
of our body. This is the process of synthesis and synchronization
that takes place as we become the music during practice and playing.
This is why various dysfunctions of breathing, such as holding
or constricting the breath, are so common with players, especially
while playing whatever is most difficult for us. Fundamentally,
problems in playing, and their continued existence, can be seen
as a failure to properly breathe in the music. The music cannot
be placed in our bodies without the synchronization process, mediated
by the breath, that takes the thought and understanding of the
music, and synthesizes it with the emotional feeling for the music,
and results in the physical power to play the music.
It is interesting and important to realize that we must, at times,
experience and focus on the physical aspect of playing by itself,
relating to the music in only a technical way, without emotion.
Equally important, at other times we must relate to the music
with only our emotional selves, with only a background awareness
of the physical element of playing. There are also times we must
measure our attention in different degrees to each while playing.
Sometimes our music wants playing, sometimes practice.
Great musicians devote their lives to becoming their music. The
greatest music requires this lifetime devotion in order to be
fully manifested by an individual. For instance, it has been said
of the Bach Chaconne in D minor (considered by many musicians
including Johannes Brahms to be the greatest piece of music ever
written for a single instrument) "do not perform it in public
before the age of 50". It takes that long to become deep
enough as a person to match the depth of the music.
I have two recordings of Julian Bream playing the Chaconne. One,
made in his twenties, is quite careful and controlled, the notes
are there, but not much else. The other one, made in his 60's
is phenomenal, for me, THE interpretation by a guitarist of this
masterpiece. The growth in Bream, with the Chaconne, is quite
evident. It takes time and great devotion to reach these heights
with our music. The challenge of performing our music makes us
put this time and devotion into our music. That is why Segovia
recommended performing a piece for a year or so before recording
it, to "burnish it in".
Whatever style of music we play, and whatever level of playing
we are at, the process is essentially the same, and we must meet
the demands of becoming the music. The first demand is the desire
for the music itself, the desire to hear it, think it, and feel
our bodies make it. We should hunger for our music, and go to
our instrument to satisfy that hunger. And we should feel a joy
and a satisfaction when we do so. To feel this hunger is a special
calling that we honor by giving all of the best of ourselves.
As we do, we become the music more and ever more completely, always
seeing something new, always feeling something new, always finding
the deeper we go, the deeper it gets.
provocative writings examine all aspects of becoming a true
the technical/physical, mental, emotional, and
spiritual dimensions. Guitar virtuoso, recording artist, composer,
and teacher of 30 years, Jamie is recognized by music experts
around the globe for his major contribution to the advancement
of guitar education.
book, The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar
(1999) continues to bring the highest acclaim, world renowned
as The International Bible For Guitarists, and the
Holy Grail Of Guitar Books. With a straight forward
writing style, his tried and true, result-oriented guitar book
powerfully reveals the correct practice methods that no other
book has revealed
taking the student from the beginning
stages all the way to the highest levels of virtuosity.
already familiar to aspiring guitar players, as his wisdom is
present throughout the Web on all major guitar sites, including
his own. Visit:
Copyright 2003 by Jamie Andreas.
All Rights Reserved.
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Free Download - 17 Essential Strum Patterns PDF