THE SAKARI METHOD For Classical Guitar                              
  

             "Perfect Your Passion"                                                  

 Below are some e-mail question/answer exchanges
I've had recently with those before, during and after taking my courses.

[Q]

Dear Sakari, I've been quite convinced about your program
of the 5 disciplines, but had some doubts.

Last night I watched a short extract in youtube of a
master-class by David Russell, which finally convinced
me 100%. 

He demonstrated an exercise very, very similar to lesson 1
of the 1st discipline, and described it as the most important
foundation to learn, that if not mastered everything else falls
apart, then he proceeded to show the same concept for the
left hand with a different exercise,  and then putting both hands
together, and showed in real time how the skills can be
immediately transferred to pieces and make you progress
light years.

It was a very short and general demo, but without a specific
framework to work with. So I thought to myself: imagine
what I could achieve with your course if it puts these kind
of concepts in a well structured, progressive, well thought
framework ?

I think I hit the jackpot with your course !

[A]

I put that step by step progression of finger movement
stages into just that sort of framework, ending with
rather complex sequences.  

Train the fingers on each hand separately, then together
in a metronomic succession using my unique formula
of alternating tempos and rhythmic figures.

Many have dedicated themselves to go
through my course and come out the other
side being able to play just about anything.

I've always admired David Russell's virtuosic accuracy
and I'm fairly certain he must have trained himself
in a similar fashion to my method long ago as a
very young man. It's not the only way, but I
think it's the best way.
 
Good luck with your studies and be sure to
follow my instructions very carefully.

By the way, if you're interested in the ultimate
for training finger independence and control
without your guitar, there is only one that rises
to the challenge. Go here to learn more about it:

http://www.MagicMusicianFingers.com/ClassicalGuitar.html

[Q]

 

Mr. Heikkila, I am considering purchasing your system
via the Internet but have a few questions first. 
I hope you don’t mind.

I am 53 years old.  I started playing the classical guitar
about four years ago and then stopped
because of a
bad experience with the instructor. 

I want to play this beautiful instrument very badly. 
I have invested in a very nice guitar, a humidifier for
the room I practice in, fingernail items because I need
false ones due to bad nails, etc.  I’m serious about this. 
I practice at least two hours each day, and usually three
or four each day on weekends.  I want to learn how
to play this instrument.

I feel like I’m not progressing though. 

I keep making the same mistakes, and I fear
they are becoming ingrained into my method. 
The instructor just tells me to play slower, but that’s
not helping.
  I’m a pretty aggressive “type A” and I
want to see results, but I’m willing to put in the time
necessary to get them. I’m frustrated.

Please tell me the truth.  I don’t want to invest
more time and money in a system that isn’t going
to get me where I want to go.  I don’t want to be
a professional or take a master’s class, I just want
to be able to play beautifully and to read music well
enough to play what I see quickly.  To entertain myself
and my friends, and to escape into beautiful music
that I create.

Will your system do that for me?

Am I too old to learn how to play the classical guitar well?

If I purchase it, I plan to keep my instructor and proceed
with both methods.  Does that sound good?

I appreciate your time and honesty.
 
I look forward to your response.

Thank you!

[A]

Your story is THE most common one I receive.

My method will solve your slow progress problem
as it trains each finger individually, hands separate
and hands together.

The disciplines course is all about finger technique with
no music.  Music only slows this skill down and keeps
you in technique limbo for years while you pay a teacher
to try and get the music to train your fingers, which simply
does not and can not occur....period.

My fretboard course teaches how to read music
and locate only the important notes on the fretboard
that are most commonly used in 90% of guitar music.

My music mastering course then teaches how to
prepare, memorize and perform any piece of music.

Those three elements, that call the Trilogy, should be studied
separately and carefully before diving into playing music
of one's choice randomly.

No, you are not too old and if you continue with live
lessons, your progress will be very diluted and counter
productive as music is an absolute NO NO with my
disciplines course.  As are scales and etudes.

My method teaches how to find your unique technique
through a specific process.  Most live teachers want to
teach their technical method which will only hinder the
discovery of yours.  Why learn someone else's solution to
a problem you may not have ?

I realize you may not understand the meaning behind
my words currently but that is what classical guitar
is all about.  Finding your unique technique.

Only stage concert artists discover this naturally.

The rest of us don't.

Some call my method radical but so be it.  It works
and it is time tested despite the status quo establishment's
outdated belief systems.

But don't get me started:-)

Put away your current method books and start.  You'll
spare yourself years of frustration.

By the way, I also recommend only taking 3 live lessons
per teacher if you wish to continue along those lines.  Any
longer and you may end up in a irreversible rut as the lessons
can become more a social event rather than one of true learning.

Or worse, you become a captive audience to a teacher who
only wants to showcase his or her performance ability.  This one
is the second most common e-mail I receive from those
who study privately with someone to no avail.

The third most common e-mail is from degree holding
classical guitarists who take master classes yearly and are still
frustrated because no one has ever told them "how"
to learn technique.  That was my story over thirty years ago
until I decided to do something about it !

============================================

[Q]

I am a beginner and have started to work with your method.
After one month with a standard approach, I identified that the
critical path is finger and hand independence.  Then I found your
approach and after one week I can feel that I am on the right track.

Just one question. You insist quite a bit on not jumping
ahead within the method. Makes a lot of sense for one hand.
But why should one not work independently on the
right hand exercises and the left hand exercises at the same time?

[A]

Training both hands at the same time defeats
real progress, as does playing music hoping to
have both hands somehow magically improve
their individual and very diferent sets of technical
problems, issues and solutions simultaneously.

So I focus on one hand , then the other, then both
together.  That way, each hand's finger skills are
maximized and ingrained before having them
dance together.

Simple.

===========================================

[Q]

I am currently working through your five disciplines course. 
I must say though that I’m really excited about the journey that’s ahead of
me.  I have put all my music away, and have committed to working through
your method, to the best of my ability.

I am 57 years old and have had a guitar in my hands (on and off) just as a
hobby, for 45 years.  In more recent years, I have spent a lot of time at
lessons, working my way through the Trinity College Grades, and then onto a
Diploma in performance.

But… you know what?  I currently can’t play anything through to a level that
I’d want anyone to hear. 
The reason for this is that it takes me too long
to get a piece to the point where I can play it, and by then, I become bored
with it.  When you stop playing the piece, you're left with NOTHING other than
the fragments that you can read in numerous music anthologies – back to
square one.

I had independently come to some of the same conclusions as you concerning
the paramount importance of developing a strong technique.  It has been my
experience that, without this, you can only get so far until everything
starts to either fall apart, or you just simply don’t have the ability to
play what the music is asking of you.  In an effort to remedy this and to
strengthen my technique, I was researching on the internet trying to find
out if anyone covered training of “finger micro movements” and came across
your website.  Once I started reading your philosophies, I was intrigued,
and went on the read the whole site from beginning to end.

Everything you say on your website, resonated strongly with me, based on my
own experience.  For me it has been a long road to mediocrity, which is a
great shame when you consider the time and effort that I’ve put into it.  I
deserved a lot more.  The conclusion that I am tempted to make is that I’m
just not very good at playing the guitar and no matter how much time and
effort I put into it I’ll only ever be a fiddler – you know, sitting
surrounded by music, playing the first section of everything, badly.

I don’t believe however, that I am really that hopeless.

I have understood for some time that complex activities are made up of
smaller less complex tasks strung together, as it where, in numerous
combinations and permutations.  If these individual tasks are firstly
identified and then completely mastered
then you are in a position of being
able to use them effectively in combination again when needed in a macro
sense.

Your Mastering the Five Disciplines Course does exactly this.

PS

I have just received your latest newsletter which talks about a recent
posting to a CG forum.  I don’t normally go into online forums, but last
week, whilst having some time off work, I did, and saw the postings that
your refer to.  Let me say that I was quite upset by the narrow minded
responses of the participants.  These threads seem, on occasion, to
degenerate into a battle between competing egos.

For what it’s worth, I share your views on the value of self discovery and
that the best and most lasting way to learn anything is to do it yourself
until you really understand it.

Please keep up your very good work.

[A]

I'm so glad that you are in tune with what I am
really trying to accomplish with my method. In fact
your comments are more than I would ever hope
for from someone following my method.

The discoveries that you will make throughout
the Five Disciplines lesson series will be remarkable
and I look forward to your comments as it unfolds
for you.

Thank you for the Neuro Linguistic Programming definitions.

They are as true as they are prophetic.

And you WILL reach Level 4 - Unconscious Competence
[Artistic Expression].

I absolutely insist upon it !

=========================================

[Comment]

Sir,

Thanks for the steady slow lesson plans.

You said you expected some questions, but I don't really have any.

I have been diligently practicing your techniques, just as you have
suggested.

I agree that after a few minutes a sort of "calm focus" comes about
 and I feel like I am transported away. 
It is very relaxing actually after
a day at the office.

I feel like I am getting a lot of control over my right hand, and there is
no extra finger movement when I practice in this way.  I have become
acutely aware of the tendency of the middle finger to want to wiggle a
bit when I move the ring finger, but it has become easy to suppress. The
first finger and ring finger have become pretty tame.  I am pleased.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks.  I feel that very solid progress is
happening.  This has never occurred before for me with the guitar.

=========================================

[Q]

I have a classical guitar and have been very keen to learn how
to play. I know basic basic chords and cannot play any kind of music.
Also,  I really have no musical background or understand phrases or
terminolgy. Is the ecourse easy to understand, I really want to build
a true foundation.  Just wondering if I will have difficulty understanding ?

[A]
 
Here it is in a nutshell.
 
My course is all about training the fingers
to have the physical skills required to
play Classical Guitar
.  The course also
can take you to pro-level technique within
each of the Five Disciplines if you so choose.
 
No music reading ability is required.
 
Now, once you have the physical skills
learned, reading and playing music becomes
1,000% easier as your brain won't have to
concentrate on six things at once.
 
Later this year, my next lesson series,
Mastering the Fretboard will be available and
will teach notes reading skills.  Then the
last series in my Trilogy, Mastering your Music
will come out which will teach how to
approach any piece of music and learn it
totally and not have typical memorization
problems.
 
Ideally, the courses should be taken in the
order I describe them above to shorten one's
total learning time, point A to B.
 
That's my mission after watching 30 years
of other players going through the agony of slow
progress.
 
So building a solid foundation ?
 
You've come to the right place.  The course is
logically laid out with full explanation in
a building block fashion plus I provide
constant support throughout.

=========================================

[Comment]

Sakari - Bravo for what you are doing! I will recommend your method to others.

Here's a short story experience that your lessons reminded me of...
I remember my first lesson with David Russell in about 1980. I had been playing guitar for about
15 years, and seriously studying classical guitar for about 5 or 6 years. I practiced 4-5 hours
every day. And I thought I played fairly well.

I was selected to play first in the David Russell Master Class at UT and I played Hommage a
Tarrega by Juaquin Turina. I played it OK, with no mistakes... But I knew it was not my best./

After I played, David made a few nice comments. Then he asked to see my guitar -- A Ramirez
1A Segovia Model which I had purchased in Madrid at Ramirez's shop the summer before. I
handed it to David, When he played the same Turina piece, not only was it much louder and
fuller, but his tone was so clean, bright, powerful, and colorful, that I was totally humbled. I had
never heard my guitar sound like that. Then he showed me how I was not correctly accenting the
Soleares. Then.... he told me I needed to re-think my entire right hand technique, shape of nails,
attack, and hand/arm position. I took several lessons with David over the next few years. He has
incredible command of the instrument and is a fantastic teacher.

[A]

Thank you for your story.  There's no question David
Russell is a brilliant player and I have admired his
abilities for decades as you have.
 
I have decided to dedicate my life to formalizing
my "Trilogy Method", of which, Mastering the
Five Disciplines is the first installment.
 
The principles are sound and I continually try to
refine it but only how they are communicated.
 
The next two lesson series are Mastering the Fretboard
to be followed by Mastering your Music.  Both of which
are uniquely counter-intuitve ways of capturing the
complexities of the guitar into a total method.  They should
be available later this year.
 
There certainly are other methods but I haven't found
any that tie it all together.  Often the student is handed
a book of scales and etudes in the first few months of
study and then simple pieces graduated up to extremely
difficult in way too rapid a time frame.  Trying to learn
all the skills simultaneously is just silly in my opinion.
 
The heart wrenching stories that come my way, often from
those in their 70's wishing things could have been different
after decades of amateur frustration just spur me on.
 
The lucky make progress and take master classes, the
remaining vast majority simple languish or quit.
 
I wish to change that in any way I can and I'm prepared
to cross any hurdle(s) necessary to make a difference.
The response so far has only encouraged me to believe
that I am on the right track.
 
Classical guitar online...who would ever imagined ?  But
you wouldn't believe how many taking the Disciplines course
e-mail and tell me they have shelved their music and follow
each lesson often requesting them on demand as they become
ready for them.  Years of frustration take their toll and they
are ready to get somewhere because traditional methods
didn't work.
 
Where will it all lead ?  I don't know but I do know that if
my ideas help lovers of classical guitar get closer to their
dream, then it will have been all worth while.
 
I do spend more time in front of a laptop than behind a guitar
these days but it's OK.  There's more a need for it than listening
to myself play and I am happy with my personal playing
accomplishments through the years so its time to give back.
 
I am fortunate to be able to spend full time at all this and I look
forward to the future !
 
Stay tuned...

=========================================
 
[Q]

Do you advocate open or closed hand position for the right hand?

The reason I ask is because the main difference between the two schools
has to do with which muscles are used to initiate the finger movement.
And since this is what your first exercise is all about, I thought it a pertinent
question.
 
[A]
 
For me, your question pertains more to methods
of musical interpretation than trying to advocate
one school or the other.

The "closed" hand technique is most prominent in the 'andres segovia
style' of playing. There is a difference in the hand position between rest and
 free stroke. With a free stroke the hand shifts slightly more forward.
With the rest stroke the hand shifts back resulting in a sharper angle.
The use of rest and free strokes therefore have a more distinct sound.
 Rest strokes being mainly used for scale runs and louder notes.
 
Open hand technique uses shorter nails and little or no rocking back and
forth of the hand between rest and free stroke and very little difference
in sound between the two.
 
I use both open and closed and really
never try to stick to one or the other.
 
The pieces of music being played
determines which technique should be used
as one unfolds the passages of a composition.
 
Initially, to gain true finger independence with
minimal movement, I advocate the open hand
technique with free strokes so that the hand and
fingers become used to working without the
safety net of the rested stroke, as that is how most
music is played, in fact.
 
This is how I view it... as a teaching tool.
 
But the closed hand technique becomes absolutely
necessary, rocking the hand forward and stroking
the strings more from underneath for volume, rocking
back to enact an accented rested stroke, again as
dictated by the musicality of the piece being
played.
 
Both imply a "style" of playing if used exclusively,
( one without the other ) and this becomes a personal
choice.  Again, for me, closed hand is preferred when playing
near the fret board or near the bridge, but both techniques
have their place in the expressive moments of the music.
 
Great question !

=========================================

[Q]

Some comments on last nights Lesson 1 practice.  I can make good loud round tones,
no clicking, hitting other strings, etc. at MM42 with all 3 i-m-a fingers. There is
slight movement with the a finger as I use the m finger and vice a versa. 
Am focusing on eliminating that but in the meantime I do get a very good sound.
 
I like this approach and its not as boring as I first thought!  It is actually a meditative
process - hearing the note sustain through each half note and I can focus on relaxing
the rest of my body as well.

[A]

The meditative quality you are experiencing is
exactly why I still begin each practice session with
the tone centering portion.  It relaxes and awakens the
creative spirit, for lack of a better term and
that is exactly what you should maintain throughout
the course.  Ironically, technique improves much
more quickly this way than if one were just be impatient
to get better.
 
Not everyone wants to understands this but I try to impart
it more and more with my writings, etc..  It's why I call
my method counter intuitive.  By letting go, you improve
not only technically but musically as well as long as you
have my lesson guides to follow.

Total and individual finger control is the very cornerstone
of playing classical guitar.
 
You're on the right track !

=========================================

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Q]
 
I have a question that relates to Aaron Shearer.
 
When I was introduced to his methods, it was an "ah ha"
sort of moment when I started to experience the "sympathetic"
movements and the problem solving that brings for coordination.

Of course, this came out of Shearer's study of the hand after
he was forced to leave the instrument with tendinitis.
 
I went back and read in his lesson books again over the last few days.

And my question to you is this. Are you opposed to this solution?
He does talk about finger independence and even gives some
good off the guitar exercises I ve been using too.
 
What are you thoughts regarding this? Specifically,
"prepared strokes and sympathy movements of the fingers?
 
Part of the reason I ask is that in trying to keep my non playing
 fingers from moving,  it can cause tension. Its not as tense as
it was when I first started, but not as relaxed yet. Don't want
an injury either.
 
In thinking this through, It seems that in "self discovery" 
I might find that the uses of his solutions will be useful too.
 
One last question.
 
In playing rest strokes as in scales for example, do the same
ideas of finger independence apply? Are there lessons in the
future that will focus on scales and or rest strokes?
 
Thank you very much, Sakari, for answering my questions.
 I certainly feel as though you have gone the extra mile here.

Your lessons are demanding, with regards to dropping other studies.
In fact, have you thought of having your own controlled forum ?

[A]
 
I disagree with the combined concepts of
prepared strokes and sympathy movements
of the fingers in terms of learning finger movement.
 
Finger independence is the precursor to what
I mentioned earlier, that when playing music,
all the fingers are always in motion but minimal
movement needs be ingrained first with what is
my method's initial lesson goals.

Sympathetic finger motion is not step one, it is
a reality that should occur only after true finger
independence has been achieved.

Real control, otherwise, will be an illusion that
falls apart on stage.  Not that everyone wants
to get to stage performance level but the principle
I speak of is sound for all levels of play.
 
It will start to make sense to you after a few lessons
and talking about it perhaps won't be as successful
as you going through the first 5 or 6 lessons.  This is when
the majority of questions from my students slow way
down.  This is after hundreds and hundreds of students.
 
It's why I require the completion of at least five lessons before
accepting Mentoring applicants.
 
It gets back to, if you can play quarter notes  i-m-a  on one string at
MM42 but not at MM76, somewhere in between you
have a unique problem to solve.
 
My method ends at thirtyseconds at MM69, for both hands
first alone, then together.
 
To get to that point through my metronomic formula, which
you don't yet understand, understandably, you will grasp
the problem "you" have.  Everyone's is quite different.
 
Maybe the problem is mental, maybe emotional, maybe
physical, who knows but if you endeavor with my method
of controlled progress, it WILL be revealed to you.
 
Everyone reacts differently.
 
On my own forum...
 
A controlled forum with other followers would be, "just
another forum" due to the fact that it would be potentially
harmful uninformed viewpoints from one beginner to another
and useful informed viewpoints from those who have
completed most of the course to beginners that couldn't
possibly understand the process.
 
I have thought about this a great deal and I would rather
be questioned directly and respond directly than to have
four students offer opinions to ten other students, all of whom
are not yet ready to offer any opinions.  Tell a story and pass it
to the next person and so on, by the time the story hits person
100, it's not the same story, at all.  Ta-Daa...Forums.
 
I like direct exchange and not group exchanges with posts
that are read and interpreted unattended.
 
Before you know it, the value would be so diluted, everyone
would just go back to putting music on their stands to try
and improve as players.
 
I may however, start doing teleconference calls but for now
the benefits are outweighing the need for another medium.
 
Follow the lessons and don't try to rush the improvement.  I am
fully aware of how the mind wants to reach conclusions quickly
and how the fingers need time.
 
This is a reprogramming of the brain and right now your brain
is fighting it because it's a new discipline after years of perhaps
less than fruitful endeavors with various bits and pieces of truth.
 
Cardiac exercising makes the brain hit the brakes when you first
start too.  It will come up with any number of alternative solutions.

But there aren't any.
 
Remember you are just several weeks into it all.
 
Your brain is hitting the brakes.  I've seen it hundreds of times as one
reconsiders old pathways to find a more familiar direction.
 
But the tension will get less and less as your brain gets broken
in...like a wild stallion. 
 
Like one of my advanced students said, many that initially don't
understand can't see the forest from the forest.
 
Powerful stuff.
 
Oh, and you haven't any idea of what I have in store
as far as scales.  It becomes so challenging at about
lesson 22 with my intervallic scales, you will be very glad of
every ..single ..pregnant ..second you are spending now with lesson 2.
 
But when you get to the last lessons, your skills will be light
years past Aaron Shearer.
 
Just keep working through this preliminary "brain braking" phase.

=========================================

[Q]
 
I received lesson 3 today. The coordination (or lack of) is
really showing up with the faster markings.
 
I've been focusing on each finger independently and feeling
each finger relax and "empty" after each stroke. Still the "m"
finger seems to be the weaker culprit and I have to stop
sometimes and just feel the m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m for a while and
then go back and pick up the ima-iam pattern. Sometimes
I get in the zone and then lose it again, especially at the faster
markings.
 
Something I notice is that each finger's independence and
freedom "depends" on the freedom and independence of the
others. Does that make sense?
 
Tonight, starting at the beginning of lesson 3, I realize that
Im right there on the edge of it being too fast and I lose control.
I was just getting to the top end of lesson 2. I will have to work
into it by remaining in lesson 2 for part of my practice time.
Tonight I was able to get into the first 2 markings of lesson 3,
only after working up to it by starting in lesson
 
At this rate, It seems I might be a while on this lesson to get
 to the top end of the markings in lesson 3.
 
Is this normal? Does this tell you where I am as a player?
 
Wow...it seems I have really identified my weakness.

What's interesting is that over the course of time, I have never
practiced the i-m-a-i-a-m patterns like this. The closest has been
 the i-m-a-m. In fact, I am more comfortable with that pattern and
this only proves that its all about coordination because in the
i-m-a-m, "m" is working double time
 
Sometimes I think i-m-a is easier. Then the next day, i-a-m seems
easier.
 
I have been consistent with daily practice, watching my rt hand
with a mirror and resting regularly and "resolved" on getting this done!
 
Any tips for me?
 
Also, I am experimenting with the position of the guitar at the lesser
angles the way you hold it. I like what it does for tone and rt hand
ergonomics, but the height of the rt arm and shoulder change may take
some time to get used to it. Adam Holzman wears his guitar in a
similar fashion with the curved part of the bottom on the knee.

Now I know why.

[A]

Your observations all sound normal.  Especially
how things change from day to day as far as
comfort level.  This actually is very good that you
are sensitive to this as it means you really never have
gone through boot camp before and it's time.
 
Again the brain is swirling around and your
emotions are hoping for the truth.  Just let
yourself be convinced one day and not the next.
 
The culprit will reveal itself and the weaker fingers
will be in the spot light.  Stay with the speeds that
you know there is "real" consistency with
repetitive finger strokes.
 
Once this preliminary work is done and it really
doesn't matter how long it takes, moving on will
result in faster progress and a sort of quiet strength
in your technique.
 
Also, a lower neck angle has always been my preference.
 
This neck at a 45 degree angle obsession seems so convoluted
and unnatural to me, plus it puts the strings at an angle
to the nails that promotes a more naily tone.
 
Keep your right hand in the same position and move the
guitar so the neck is verticle and then all the way down
to horizontal and you'll see what I mean.
 
Bream got me really thinking about this many years ago.
 
=========================================

[Q]
 
I'll bet Lesson 22 is one of the most difficult lessons in the course. 
I am having great difficulty with my third finger.  I notice that the
second part of the new fingering that appears on the 6th fret is
almost undoable for me at this point.
 
I cannot place the 4 and 3 fingers on the strings simultaneously.
 I can do it easily if I place the ring finger on the 1st string and
then the pinky on the 4th, but it is a double action.  The ring finger
is so weak that it won't pull backwards.  It almost looks like
a pinky hammer.
 
I am trying to devise a way to strengthen that action as a
separate exercise, but I want to run it by you so I don't waste my
time.  I place the 2 and 1 fingers on the 4 and 1 strings respectively
 as you instruct, but I place the 3 and 4 fingers on the 3 and 1 strings
 respectively instead of the 4 and 1 strings to develop some strength
in that 3rd finger pull back action hoping to move to the 4 and 1
strings a bit later.  I am not doing the entire exercise up and down
the fret board, but just that 2,1 (4th,1st) and 4,3 (3rd,1st).
 
Since I cannot do this it must be something that has been completely
undeveloped in all my practicing. 

But your course always brings me to those technical aspects that
require the most attention that music  never develops.
 
I hope I have explained my problem adequately.  Any advice is
greatly appreciated.  As always, thank you for presenting my
weaknesses to me.

[A]

No,  #22 is not the most difficult and I don't say
that to depress you but it is interesting that you
have the many of the same technique issues I
discovered in myself way back when, which
prompted me to get to the bottom of them.
 
Like the one where the fingers you thought were
being placed on a fret, weren't, in fact.
 
This lesson is about multiple fret finger independence
and yes, music also will never teach you this skill
although it is an integral part of playing music.
 
Ironic, isn't it ?
 
The solution is simple.  As it is with any specific
technique ( as opposed to general technique ).
You isolate the problem and make an exercise
out of it but a little differently than yours.
 
Turn the problem into a hammer on and pull off
drill and keep the fingers on the strings within
the exercise.  Using alternate strings would be a
different exercise and will only confuse your brain.
 
It's trying to solve this string 1 and 4 issue.  And it
is mostly a brain issue.
 

=========================================
 
[Q]

I don’t think that your lessons are going to work for me.  I am a
visual and auditory learner, I first realized this when I was in college
and I could not comprehend my studies no matter how many times
I read them.  I would have to record myself reading them and then
play it back and hear the words to be able to understand them.

I have re-read the instructions several times but without any visual
cues I feel like I am just walking into the furniture in the dark.

Any thoughts on this?

[A]

Thank you for sending me your concern.
 
And I do have strong thoughts about the subject that
hopefully will help you.
 
First of all,
 
Don't get discouraged because you're learning a process
and still getting used to it.  For many, the light bulb
suddenly goes off and it all will seem natural and your ability
will fall into a routine of real progress !
 
For most, this starts happening around lesson 5.
 
Yes, my course is largely explanatory with some minor
diagrams that represent the fret board.
 
Yes, it is almost completely exercises used in conjunction
with the metronome but it is specifically designed
to promote a unique self discovery process which
always produces the longest lasting results and
a technique you can call your own.
 
I thought a Great deal about pictures, video, etc.
when I went online with my ideas and I decided
that my experience of knowing that everyone has
a slightly different right hand, anatomically, a "picture"
that would clear up on person's confusion would
make another's more difficult.
 
This has proved itself out with the hundreds and hundreds
of my students .
 
Even Segovia's hand and finger position and stroke
sequence is one I disagree with but I would never
say his was incorrect.  It was correct for him but not
me.
 
That is why I start my method at very slow motion speeds, to
give you time to analyze how to best stroke the strings
loudly with full tone and minimal movement.  Even though
it may seem frustrating and unguided at first, you'll
eventually find your ideal stroke and it will change through
the months slightly as you continue to work on it.
 
What works for one person will not work for
another so this is why I don't provide video or
audio to see and hear as a model. Tone, for instance,
is very personal and needs to be developed in a defined
manner.
 
The initial lessons have a very simple goal.  For you to
learn how to play just one open string with just one finger
and search for the unique way your hands and fingers
create the best sound.  There are a number of guidelines that
I can send you in terms of explanation and I even have
some diagrams that I can e-mail you to point you in the
right direction.
 
As a simple directive at this point,
 
I  would like you to find that tone on the open B string that
makes you feel as though your guitar could not possibly
generate a more pleasing, hypnotic sound.  Let yourself
get lost in that sound while maintaining full concentration
on the lesson's parameters of minimal movement in the
fingers, loud sound, round tone.
 
Do that and you have completed lesson #1.  Now imagine
what it would be like to be able to play that way with each
of your right hand fingers and on any string at any speed.
 
Then imagine your left hand having the skills to dance around
the fretboard while playing those notes with the right hand.
 
That is how my course ends.
 
You will also be receiving an e-mail about nail shaping if
you haven't received it already.
 
But here's my ultimate point.
 
If you follow a video or someone else's hand position,
my experience, after teaching hundreds of students, is that
you will learn a hand position that will have to be unlearned
someday.
 
Don't let that happen to you.  If you think you are experiencing
frustration now, you have no idea of how much that frustration
will multiply.
 
Remember I am glad to assist you in any way I can so think
about all this and get back to me.
 
There is a good saying on persistence:
 
"If we are facing in the right direction,
all we have to do is keep on walking."
 
I Look forward to hearing from you as you think about
all this.
 
=========================================

[Q]

I am at the very beginner end of the beginner scale. I have a Yamaha G-231
II classical guitar and have only played the bass guitar (many years ago
and by tab and repititious memory of music only).

You have mentioned that your course may not be for the very beginner. Can
you tell me what information/understanding would be needed (and where I
may find it..) as a pre-requisite for your course?

[A]

Your question is one I receive often.

There is no real prerequisite to taking my
course

But the reason I say "may not" be for the
beginner is two fold.

One, there can be typical frustration
at not playing music instantly, like an
Esteban program.

This may cause premature quitting as
not everyone is able to appreciate
progress in the long term.  A sort of
20/20 foresight is needed.

Two, my method is specifically designed
to promote self discovery in the sense that
everyone's anatomy is so different, one has
to discover one's unique and individual
right hand finger stroke sequence, for instance.

Video models of someone else's technique may
be exactly the opposite of what works for you
so my lessons guide you through the process that
each of us "has" to go through in order to
play naturally.

If you consider yourself to be even slightly
self motivated and slightly an independent
thinker, my method will be like taking a duck
to water.

If not, then you might want to consider taking
live lessons and revisit my method after you find
yourself not getting anywhere, which is what
happens to 90% of the beginners I coach.

They finally achieve 20/20 hindsight and they
come back to me.

I hope this answers your question and ask more
if you have them.  I'm happy to assist.

=========================================

[Q]

I am relatively proficient at the trumpet. I also have goofed
around on the guitar for some time. I wanted to be able to sight-read
music for the guitar the way I can with the trumpet. I was curious
about your technique lessons, whether they can help me in the process
of learning to read proficiently. I do understand that this is within the
context of classical playing. I am interested in your method to develop
my skills, but I don't want to put the cart before the horse. What do
you suggest I do? learn to read proficiently, or take your course to
develop my technique? or is there another place i should go to learn
how to read first?

[A]

My whole message about learning classical guitar is that
one needs to learn the physical skills of playing first before
diluting the mind with the whole other world of reading
music on the guitar, which is in itself a complex undertaking.
 
The guitar has so many positions to play identical notes
that until you separately learn them, trying to do both
just overwhelms the brain, which is why so many struggle
with traditional approaches to guitar - learning to play
by playing music.
 
So my answer is, learn the physical skills first with my course
so when you start learning music reading, you hands are
up to snuff and playing won't be frustrating to you.
 
My next lesson series, due out later this year is "Mastering
the Fetboard" which will be a followup to the current,
"Mastering the Five Discipline" lessons.
 
I have just started the last lesson series of my Trilogy,
"Mastering Your Music" will put it all together, my
opinon, in the correct sequence.

=========================================
 
[Q]
 
I seem to be stuck at a particular spot on the Metronome exercises. 
I am making hardly any progress at this point:--->
Phase 6, Section F, MM72, 104,50 - Columns I,II,III respectively.
 I am open to any tips, advice and/or exercises
(short of continued practice) to break thru this level.
 Any help would be greatly appreciated.  I look forward to hearing
from you as well as the future lessons.

[A]

The last Phase,  #6 is difficult for most and it really boils
down to the music you eventually wish to play.

If none of it requires the skills of phase 6 then it
is not critical at this time.  A long term project
of mine is categorizing guitar music with my
corresponding phase skill level so one can look it
up to choose pieces.  I have already completed the
Bach cello suites in this regard.

It takes a sort of controlled "letting go" and normally
just takes time.  Try not focusing intently on your
fingers but maintaining a high degree of concentration.
 
Keep moving.  It sounds like you are facing
in the right direction.
 
=========================================
 
[Q]

 I am still working to complete lesson 1 to my satisfaction. I find that I
continually worry whether my right hand is in the right position. I find
myself being concerned with things like:

Is my knuckle joint really providing the major thrust for the stroke as it
should?
 
Are my fingers too curled or too straight when I make the initial contact
with the string?

And on and on....I find myself going back to different classical technique
books that I have, and reviewing free stroke technique....and I never
quite feel that I have the stroke down right.

I am finding that to have my fingers nearly straight (slight bend at the
middle knuckle) when striking the string, I have to arch my wrist upward
quite a lot - unnaturally so. I am still struggling with this, I guess
sooner or later it will come.

How do I get past this?

[A]

In general, the RH fingers are at almost a right
angle to the top of the hand, the fingers have
only a slight bend to them, ( more for the longest
finger ) and most of the movement comes from
the knuckle where the fingers meet the hand.

The more you move the top of the hand towards
the floor, the more the fingers will stroke the string
from "under" the string.  A technique to play certain
rapid passages loudly and not hit other strings
inadvertantly.

The more you lower your wrist towards the top of the
guitar, still keeping the fingers straight, the more you
will play a rested stroke, where the stroking finger
comes to rest on the next lower string.  A technique to
place emphasis on certain notes within a passage.

There is no "right" way because everyone's anatomy
is different.  So the key is to follow the above
guidelines, play a free stroke, ( not coming to rest
on the next string ) produce the best, round, non
naily tone you can and whatever your fingers do to
produce this, is "your" technique.

When you have it, move onto the lesson 2.

You can read and read and watch endless videos
but all you'll learn is that everyone's technique is
slightly different.  This is exactly why a video of technique
becomes generally meaningless.

That's why I call it a self discovery process.  You have
to discover it for yourself.  Then everything you do
after "grasping" it will feel natural to you and you'll make
the most progress.

My wrist, to answer you last concern, is not arched much
but my guitar body size, arm length, hand length
etc. is different than yours.

You will get it as you continue to work
at it.

It also maybe that your footstool is too high
or too low, even chair height can influence
the process.

Start with footstool heights low to high and
see how that affects your comfort level.

=========================================

[Q]

I have a question regarding Lesson 22.  I am up to phase 5
...sextuplets, etc. and I am finding a challenge. In all of the
previous phases of Lesson 22 I have been able to work the
 finger progression with a deliberate 1and a 2 and a 3 and a
 4 sort of tempo.  Timing was no problem.

Try as I might I can't get 6 in on one tick unless I pick all
fingers up simultaneously and plant them all simultaneously. 
That seems to defeat the effect I was enjoying in the first few
phases.  As I say, adapting the fingering allows me to keep
the rhythm.  Should I just stick at this level until I can do it
the way I was doing it at first or am I being too extreme? 

Any thoughts or suggestions always appreciated.

[A]
 
What I would rather see you learn, rather than
lifting all at once and then plant all at once which
will never become fluid at the higher speeds,
is this:
 
Finger the pattern for fret 1, hold while placing
the fingers for fret 2, hold those while lifting the fret 1
fingers and then at the last moment, place those
fingers on fret 3 as fret 2 fingers are geting out of the
way and so forth through the exercise.
 
It will look like a leap frog sequence and allow for
what I call "maximum ring time" for each pair.
 
In the playing of music, holding fretted notes as others
are moving to the next playing position is a real
secret to "listenable" playing.

=========================================

[Q]

I notice when I do the finger exercises in lesson 1 (the ones without the
guitar, where you extend the finger down and then flex the middle joint
while bringing it up) that my fingers tend to spread apart a good bit when
I do it. If I hold them close together, but not quite touching, the
exercise is much harder and my fingers tremble and try to spread
themselves apart.

Should they be held closely together and not spread apart a little?

[A]

Yes, you should hold them closely together.

The slight trembling is common and if you concentrate
you can control that if it bothers you.  Some find
it more difficult to do the exercise when they are
spread apart which demonstrates how everyone's
challenges with technique are different.

Keep working at it as it will really help you to
gain the finger independence required.

=========================================

[Q]

Today was my first experience with Lesson 21.  I really love it! 
Now lets make sure that I am doing this one correctly. I am
working the LH fingers in a 1-2-3-4 fashion.

One right after the other. The effect is a tonal range and it very
much like the effect of fret tapping.  I am relaxing and allowing the
fingers to flow. (Assuming that makes sense.) No tension, just
flowing or floating across the fret board.
 
I spent most of the session at 42 but I did go all the way up
to the end of the first phase. I think it was 50. I'm in no big hurry
 for I want to make sure of proper fingering at 42. My release
seems to be doing very well for there is no noise.
 
I just want to make sure I am doing this right BEFORE I
get too far along.
 
[A]
 
Yes, you have it, no tension BUT..
 
Play Loudly, if you are not already, all the time.
 
And also Legato, with as little silence between
the notes as possible.  As if you were dragging
your finger across a piano keyboard's white keys.
 
Never forget Lesson #1 mantras and here are
my thoughts but I think you already know them
but reminders are never bad.

Loud play will force your LH and RH fingers to find their
ideal position when you do it as tension free as possible.
 
I also would like you to always find the tones on the strings that
make you feel as though your guitar could not possibly
generate a more pleasing, hypnotic sound.  Let yourself
get lost in that sound while maintaining full concentration
on the technique parameters of minimal movement, etc..
 
Again, you probably are already in this mode but..
this is an important point as your mind needs constant training
along these lines.  Playing music should be an emotional
letting go process while one's sharp focus on technique
is maintained.
 
The inability to do this is what causes memory blanks
so one needs to get used to this.  This ability is seldom taught
but it is as important an exercise as any other and often is
a brand new experience, even to advanced players.

=========================================
 
[Q]
 
Ive just started the first lesson on your method and am on page 7
which is the micro tension bit.
 
I've managed to do the index finger fine and the second and third
seem to be improving.
 
Just a few questions.  Does shaking count as micro tension?
 
Should I hold my right arm with my left arm?
 
Should I or should I not firmly stretch out my middle knuckles
as if locking the fingers straight?
 
Apart form that I think I'm doing it correctly because I think it is improving .

[A]

Shaking or quivering is not a micro tension
issue and is not uncommon when holding out
the hand and fingers while doing the finger
independence routine.
 
The slight trembling will go away quickly if you don't
lock your fingers straight out and rigid.  Relax them,
with a slight bend to each finger and rather than having
the fingers outstretched in the same plane as the top
of the hand, let them drop slightly so the fingers and
hand top form a slight "V" shape.  Slight however,
just a relaxed feeling, just shy of having to make an
effort to drop them more.
 
I would avoid holding the right arm up with the left
arm, if I understand your question.  You don't have
that luxury when playing so we don't want to
create any crutches along with the exercise.

=========================================

[Q]
 
I will try and be as brief as possible. I know you are very busy.
I just spent the last 3 hours on lesson 1.
 
1. I'm finding no matter what the tempo, the 'm' finger independence
 is the most difficult. Is this common? The 'a' finger wants to move
sympathically with it. I do pretty well with it but at the very beginning
of the motion, the 'a' finger wants to travel along with 'm'. Even off the
guitar doing the "palms down move the fingers down and up test" or
just tapping/stroking on my desk produced some discomfort. I have
noticed this prior to your lessons. In fact I had implemented an 'a-m-a-m'
exercise to try get more freedom there. I think I am seeing some progress
just in the time ive been practicing today. My understanding is that our
hands are built in such a way that the tendons and the way they are
connected to the fingers produce this difficulty naturally. Is this true?
 
2. With that in mind, the little finger works in sympathy with the 'a' finger.
Ramos advocated a conscious effort to keep the little finger next to and
touch the 'a' finger until it was second nature to do so. Any thoughts for
the little finger?
 
3. With the next lesson in 2 weeks, should I work only on this #1
study until then?
 
I know I'm just getting started and this will take some time
 
Thanks for all you do!

[A]
 
RH finger independence is so key that you
simply must not proceed onto  Lesson 2 until
you are comfortable with your brain's ability to
control it.  I don't know anatomy well enough
to know the obstacles but from experience
and my exercises away from the guitar, it's a
brain programming issue and can be overcome.
I even recommend not moving the pinky with the
annular finger to only further get the brain in gear
with controlling finger independence.
 
Try it and you'll see what I mean.
 
My approach is always from a purist vantage point
and I do that for the reason that if you eventually
adopt a purist view of technique, not dilluting it
down with playing music during this woodshed period,
you will always hold that "ideal technique" in your
mind as achievable and it will carry you through the
dark moments when you might feel that a Specific
technique required in a piece of music is a real bugger
and may seem impossible.
 
The lessons are a building block process and be glad
for every single moment spent in the beginning because I'll
send you back to Lesson #1 if you e-mail me in Lesson
#5 with a problem that stems from a lack of mastery
with Lesson #1.
 
Stay with the open B string, play very loudly, full round
tone, minimal movement always.  Playing loudly will
cause the tension you mention initially until your hands
are used to the task but what will happen is that as the
speeds increase throughout the lessons, the loud play
will force your RH and RH fingers to find their ideal position.
 
And it may be different than what you are used to.
 
But here is a very important point to Lesson #1.
 
I also would like you to find that tone on the B string that
makes you feel as though your guitar could not possibly
generate a more pleasing, hypnotic sound.  Let yourself
get lost in that sound while maintaining full concentration
on the technique parameters of minimal movement, etc..
 
Find that point of relaxed tension and take a 20 minute
break every 40 minutes.  Tendinitis is not the goal and
it hits suddenly after 24/7 practice sessions.
 
There is much more but for now this is good.
 
=========================================

[Q]
 
Your last newsletter was great. The clarity on the
plant- pressure- release thing... Im glad to let that go!

Thanks again

Your passion is obvious and shines through like a laser.
Honesty and Integrity are what people are hungry for ..not to
mention the TRUTH!

Have you ever thought of licensing "certified Sakari instructors"
 
Also, what ideas do you have for teaching young children?
 
[A]
 
I have thought about certified Sakari Method teachers
and have been asked several times about it.
 
My current thinking is that until I finish my next two lesson
series which will complete "The Sakari Trilogy Method", I won't
have a total program for a teacher to go through in
order to take all my ideas to their logical conclusion.
 
But when I have that and have had all three series
available with students who have gone through all three,
I would like to start a certification process.
 
I  want to establish a new standard for learning
classical guitar even if it's the last thing I do.
 
I feel strongly about this goal and it is very much my life's
work at this point, particularly with the huge success rate I
am seeing with hundreds of my online students.
 
As far as children, I think my method requires too much
attention span to follow step by step but I have had
several european inquiries about modifying my method
to suit children.  And I believe it is possible,  but I would
never offer it without a test group of children first.
 
It would be a condensed version of all three lesson series
put together and I would view it as possibly a two or three
phase learning processs with college degree candidacy
as the goal for those who wish to go on without the
encumbrances normally associated with student skill levels.

=========================================

[Q]

I'm still on the first discipline...[after a long time] It seems
like I'm having trouble with phase 5 the sextuplets section...

Some days I do it good, other days not so good, and some
days I really have to warm up,  to get it good...I'm starting to
wonder if I  have the natural  reflexes to go that fast with no effort...

The fact of the matter is that not all human beings have the same
type of reflexes... What is your reply to this fact?  If there is a
magical solution can you please let me know?    Thank You.

[A]
 
Thanks for writing to me about your concern.

There isn't any magical solution and I agree that
not all human beings have the same reflexes.

One of the benefits of my method is that unless
you go through a systematic approach to technique
you will never get to the point of realizing
what deficiencies you have, why you have them and
how you can overcome them, if you want to.

Most guitarists play music to learn and most people do
have limitations but all they are left with is the
question "why" when it comes to not
being able to overcome a hurdle.

Phase 5 Column 1 has a range of metronome markings
from 42 to 58 for playing sextuplet figures.

If you just can't get past Phase 5 but you can play
sextuplets at MM 52, then I would move on to
the next Discipline.  It may be that in the second
discipline, you will be able to get past Phase 5
and move into the higher skill levels of Phase 6.

This will reveal another important bit of information
about your inability to do so in the first
discipline and I'll be able to identify that for you.

Eventually, after you have completed all of the lessons
for each of the Disciplines, you will have a solid
technique and a real way to pick the pieces of music
that you can actually play without struggling with
pieces that you can never play.

Which is one of the real goals of my method.

You will know exactly why certain pieces are unattainable
"for you".  If a piece contains passages of sextuplets
at 60 or its equivalent of sixteenths at MM 88,
you can simply say, " I can't play this piece" and you
won't have to waste your time of trying to
learn it.

Most players just don't have this sort of knowledge
about their skill levels and they struggle with pieces
for years, never realizing that they will "always" struggle
with them until the end of time.  It is an all too common
scenario.

But there is a wealth of beautiful music at Phase 1 - 4
skill levels to learn and you can learn them with
the confidence of knowing you "will" learn them
and be able to play them well.

A much preferable place to be.

I hope this helps you and my advice is to move onto
the second discipline right now.

Keep me posted on your progress.

***************************************

"The Masterful Player" is already inside you" 

All you have to do is remove the excess physical movements and emotional / intellectual pre-conceptions and the percentage of practice time perspiration will dimish dramatically.

Pablo Picasso, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein are all famous for saying,
 "Genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration".

Michaelangelo, on the other hand, simply said, "The sculpture is already inside the rock,
all you have to do is remove the excess stone." 
This perhaps is the most important
metaphor about learning classical guitar that you'll ever hear.

Remember.....just holding a Classical Guitar doesn't make you a Classical Guitarist any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.  If you don't get in touch with yourself and your Creative Spirit, it will never happen but implement the right procedures in the proper order, only the sky will be your limit.  That's what my Method is really about.  Developing your "technical style" in such a way that your technique becomes effortless, uniquely yours and your musicality has the tools to blossom.

Remove the physical obstacles, the "excess stone", that "you" uniquely have and boil your finger skills down to the essential levels and practicing will become so dramatically efficient, you won't believe the progress you can make in just a short time.



Be sure and revisit this page as new Q&A sessions
are posted weekly.