The most efficient way of doing something isn’t the easiest or the most obvious.
My great love is classic guitar. It isn’t what all or even most of my students want to do. I’m the first to admit that it’s as challenging as hell, but I love it. I love being able to play both melody and accompaniment at the same time. There aren’t many instruments that can go it alone like we can, apart from pianists and keyboard players.
I know it is more comfortable to hold the guitar in all sorts of weird ways. There are also a lot of professionals that play in assorted unique ways. I’m not saying that they are bad musicians – they can be brilliant – but that doesn’t mean that you should copy them. They play well despite their poor technique, not because of it. Unless you too are brilliant (and the chances are very much against it) you don’t need added difficulties.
The guitar is a difficult instrument to play well. Accept that from day one. If all you want to do is strum a few chords and sing along, okay, it won’t take that long, because you aren’t going very far. Just a casual stroll around the garden. If you’re aiming for the moon, if you want to one day play Recuerdos de Alhambra, you need every advantage you can get.
I fuss a LOT about technique. The aim is not to make students’ lives more difficult, but to make them easier IN THE FUTURE. You can get away with poor technique in the beginning – because the pieces are simpler. Problems start with the more challenging pieces that involve stretches, quick changes and increasing speed. It is also a lot easier to get rid of bad habits before they become really ingrained – take this from someone who knows! I had been playing with poor right hand technique for ten years before I went to a really good teacher. Who put me back to Grade 1 pieces when I had already played Grade 6. And he was right.
Technique is really part of everything we do, and it’s the difference between long term goals, or short term ones, between being the best you can be, or not…