Working with David Jernigan in an Alexander Technique session years ago, he first mentioned The Grip which is a characteristic of my right hand. I have noticed The Grip manifest in other activities, but on the guitar this not only impedes my ability to execute but also stresses and strains muscular activity through my elbow and most likely further. This morning I was practicing a section on the high register of the guitar, where my left hand fingers have to move about and land in a confined space. As I breathed out and began to play this part I noticed The Grip had manifested.
Why? How could tightening the hold on my right hand possibly improve the use of my left hand? In actuality this tightening adversely impacts my left hand by inducing stress in the system. As I mentioned I've noticed The Grip in other activities such as walking, holding a cup, holding a clip board so perhaps The Grip goes deeper than the guitar. My right hand is my dominant hand. Is this a manifestation of power or control issues? Fear, the usual culprit is most likely adding to the fray. Obviously I do not know what this all means and may not need to.
Looking down and to the right to "guide" this activity with my eyes may also not be helping in this instance. The little bit of tension arising in my neck is then transferred throughout the system. Let the left hand do the work it is doing and the right hand do it's work and no more. How to untangle this? Fortunately, I can come back and still my breath, offer myself the Alexander Technique Directions and let go a little bit.
Returning to the guitar to work further on this section, I quickly decided a lie down was in order. Tune my system and then see if I can introduce ease into my playing. While this was better, I still needed help so I turned to my current take on AT directions that were revised at the beach this week. May my head float up to the Heavens as my body is as wide as the Ocean and my feet dance on the Earth. Holding these spatial directions for a few breaths I then brought my smiling hands to the guitar.
The Grip is not gone, but has eased a bit. Old habits have energy and require intention, awareness, and energy to release. I am grateful for the path.
Photo by Andrea Rose