Sitting position - it's fundamental

Violin virtuoso David Oistrakh once said that his great tone came from his legs. What he was getting at was that the consistency and control manifest in his fingers had a very secure physical basis.

Classical guitarists, particularly beginners, may well observe the lesson.

The position adopted by classical players is intended to maximise the reach and dexterity of the fingers. If we put the scenario in mechanical terms the adage would be to put the fulcrum in the best position relative to the load.

Players coming from the steel string side of the fence often don't appreciate the greater strength and control required to play the nylon stringed instrument well. The main reason lies not so much with the design differences between the instruments, although there are issues there as well, as with the music. Multi-part writing is characteristic, almost defining, of the pieces of the classical solo repetoire. Much less is this the case with popular styles where a division of labour into lead and rhythm guitars is common.

The necessity to hold sustained notes in the bass while articulating at least a melodic line and commonly a counter melody as well is the primary source of difficulty for the classical guitarist.

Masters of the instrument can unfortunately be bad examples in this regard because of their apparent lack of effort and, at least when playing less difficult pieces, casualness wrt sitting position.

Once the attitude of the hands relative to the instrument is in the muscle memory so to speak, the experience player can subtly adjust to unorthodox positions without serious loss to sound production and technical execution.

But educating the hands to that extent requires working for a long time from a consistent and stable position.

Guitarist Ian Cox - sitting position


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