"The Principles" & "The Path" are your keys to mastery of the guitar!
No matter HOW long you have tried to learn guitar!
Since the release of "The Principles" in 1998, we have received reports of incredible progress from students all around the world. We now receive tons of emails on a daily basis. We began to post many of these but at this point there are simply way too many to post!
Below you can read what "The Principles" are making possible for all levels and all styles of guitar students. We want to thank you all for taking the time to write to us and be sure that every one of your emails are read. Here are some of our favorites!
I got the Principles DVD 1 and the Principles book almost a year ago. The number of revelations opened to me by your words and work is indescribable.
Practicing in the manner described in your book and DVD greatly helps with technique and the physical barriers to playing well. The level that has been opened to me so far covers finger movement/body awareness, etc.
I must admit, that since doing no tempo posing, slow tempo practice, etc, I have on occasion noticed that my awareness of the time, rhythm and place in progression, has "magically" improved. I truly appreciate everything you have done for MY instrument in your quest for answers. I feel in my heart that this is not just a "talent" thing, not something unattainable by mere mortals such as myself. Thank you.
Your friend and devotee,
I ordered "The Principles" back in the fall of 2001 and I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get this email out to you.
First of all, let me tell you a bit about myself: I am not the eternally struggling student that your Q&A sessions seem to deal with. I have been playing for 17 years and hold a BM in jazz guitar performance and I feel that I've always done pretty well, thank you very much.
I had been working on improving my fingerstyle technique and repertoire when an internet search uncovered your essay, "Changing from Guitar Student to Guitar Player: The Importance of Having a Repertoire" at staffordguitar.com, and I just couldn't believe how well thought out and well written your ideas were.
As I progressed to the Guitar Principles site and read several more of your essays and responses to student's questions I was really excited by what I had found because like yourself, I have a love of teaching.
Currently I am teaching 28 private students each week and I'm looking to expand the time I have available for teaching. The biggest thing that I am getting from "The Principles" is how to improve my teaching and get better results from my students.
As I'm sure you have seen with your own students, introducing even a single one of your concepts into a pre-existing lesson seems to instantly change the student's idea of what they need to do and how to do it.
I think the understanding part of each Tool and Foundation Exercise is a big part of what's missing from most approaches. Some of the concepts in "The Principles" are not new, but the difference is in how clearly you have put them all together, leaving nothing to chance. And of course, as one grows as a musician, the book's depth grows too. Needless to say I have been using "The Principles" in my own practice sessions. Great job!
First, thanks for the book. I showed it to my teacher, Steve Bondy, who earned his MA in guitar from the University of Denver under Iznaola, and he was very impressed. One of his comments was that it was in some respects a very detailed and precise treatment of topics that Iznaola also treats, but in much more general terms.
If you know Iznaola's students, and the reverence in which they hold him, that's probably the highest praise imaginable, (insofar as pedagogy of the guitar is concerned). He said he
Personally, I have found your book very helpful, and I mean this by an objective standard: my playing is improving, and is a lot easier. More for less!
This means a great deal to me; more perhaps than I can express.
Thank you again. You are an admirable teacher and thinker--and since I'm a school principal, I know whereof I speak.
My story is basically the same as most people's (I think). Im a young guitar student who studies by himself and now for 1.5 years. I consider myself at the moment a rock/blues electric guitar player and a beginner. I never went to music school or played other instruments. I just have listened to music and that saved, and saves, my life everyday. Especially when I was a teenage years (Im 20 years old now).
When I picked up the guitar for the first time I knew right away that there is a much deeper thing going it. I studied with various sources...the biggest help is the internet of course (because I found the Guitar Principles this way), then books, videos etc. Not from real players or teachers, yet. But none of them teached the things that was the most important of them all and that's the stuff that "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar" covers and that's the deeper stuff I was looking for from the beginning.
I have worked with the book for a month or so, and it really has given me great awareness. With the help of this book I can finally learn how to really study songs and master them. Before that I just practiced various exercises and that really exhausted me and when I had some energy left, I studied songs which, of course, sometimes never happened. I practiced scales and didnt know what I was doing and why I was doing the things I did. It's like jail, I was locked into those scales which I practiced a lot and for what? I dont know. It was a horrible feeling. Now I know it's all about music and having fun, not working with exercises that only burn me out in order to get me "monster technique" to play fast licks. The key is just to unlock tension and I can do whatever I want.
In other words the book can be called "How to become a Genius". Like you said, I can use this book and your essays in other aspects in life, not only just guitar. I admire you so much! THANK YOU for sharing your knowledge with the rest of the World!
PS! You now have a fan from Estonia. Thank you.
Firstly can I just say a HUGE thank you. I bought your book and it has
Anyway, after reading your articles on your site...it was like you were talking to me!
The situations you explain all seemed to relate to problems
Since reading the book several times and in many different places (I take
THANKYOU THANKYOU THANKYOU :-)
I must say, playing the principled way, relaxing, taking it step by step, concentrating, and MOSTLY Body Awareness is starting to REALLY sink in. I feel my fingers differently now than when I used to 4-5 months ago.
It's amazing, my inactive fingers stand relaxed and ready like an army, ready to execute my next order, it's simply breath taking, being able to play with such relaxation and confidence. I would like to thank your parents for having put you on amongst us.
Thank you ever so much and please keep enlightening us ever so much more!
All the best,
Just wanted to let you know I have now been playing guitar for just over
I must admit, it took me some time to completely "give myself" to the things you were enforcing but I would like to say how glad I am that I did!!
It's like second nature for me to use the "Tools" and "Exercises" (probably because I "UNDERSTAND" the truth that lies in them!).
Prior to purchasing The "Principles", I had picked up a lesson book by Troy Stetina (someone you hold in high regard).
I found that once "The Principles" were truly applied with attention and intention his lessons became easier and the problems I was having within those lessons were isolated, and addressed accordingly (thanks especially to that little but powerful tool you call "posing")!
I continue to improve and develop on the guitar but most of all I have "FUN" as I WORK toward getting better. Thanks again for all of your insight and commitment to helping so many of us see the light in a world blanketed by so much darkness these days!
I got "The Principles" about a month ago and have been very busy working with them but I had to stop to write and make some comments. With great knowledge comes great sorrow, and as I turned the pages of your book, I realized that I had been missing out on critical ways of thinking about the "playing mechanism" for years, and that I was stuck at a plateau for the last several years because I was trying to "fight" my way to better technique rather than relax into it.
Of course this feeling also meant that I was receiving Great Knowledge, so my sorrow passed and I became a believer. The hints that were given on the website were really born out in the book. The whole vibe of "The Principles" is great for disarming players, even ones who have been playing for many years such as myself, and getting them to just think critically about how they're practicing.
What I find happening as a result of thinking about relaxing and implementing some of the tools (Posing is by far the most powerful for me) is that my left hand has become much more relaxed, my fingers are hovering closer to the fretboard as I play, moving more independently, and my legato technique is becoming very "liquid". I mean very noticeable in a month!
Now there are times, since I keep "The Principles" out while I'm practicing from other books, when I spend much more time just holding the shape of notes that I want to play lightly and relaxing, letting my fingers, hand, arm, shoulder, body relax into being stretched to the shape while I alternate between floating my arm and then making it heavy and squeezing the notes of the shape out. The "bang for the buck" is amazing because it seems to be bleeding into all areas of my playing.
A friend/musician who I respect runs a studio. He told me recently he noticed "something different" about my playing. I showed him "The Principles" right before the band went into the studio.
When I came out about half an hour later, he was sitting in the sound room strumming his guitar with "Extreme Attention". The book was open to that page in the office. We spent the whole breakdown talking about how your approach gives the missing ingredient in how to "fix problems" that no other book pays enough attention to.
When I thought about it some more, I realized that the approach is very similar to what I was taught about striking in martial arts classes. To throw a fast punch, you must relax your forearm, upper arm and shoulder while keeping your fist tight. If you tense those arm muscles, you can't snap a punch out and back quickly because the tension acts as an opposing force. Those same tensions play against you in the mechanics of guitar playing.
Many books I've used in the past had small sections about technique and they talked about staying loose and practicing slowly, but "The Principles" answers fully the questions that I've asked for years and only gotten partial answers about. "The Principles" doesn't just say "play lightly", it codifies the things, including specific exercises, that need to be done to play with a lighter touch.
Although I've managed to play fast and cleanly at times through sheer "forcing" of my fingers, I'm making far better progress now by what I call "making a maximum effort to make no effort at all". No more white knuckles for me!
Most players I know have, like myself, played for many years and gotten very good but are amazed at the seemingly effortless, slinky hand motions of the top technical players and wondered how they do it. "The Principles" first broke down my mind's resistance to how I looked at mechanics, and now it is helping to break through all the unnoticed (or rather, ignored) tensions that have blocked my fingers from playing at the next level.
I'll always keep your book open, no matter what else I'm practicing. Even when working on things from other sources it's like having a master standing next to you at the dojo whose presence keeps you mindful of all the things he's taught you.
Thanks for writing "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar". I am a brand new (two months old) guitar student, and the book has been extremely helpful to me in some very specific ways.
I am 55 years old, have been a trombone player for 43 years, playing jazz as a weekend warrior. I have wanted to start learning to play jazz on the guitar, and have been encouraged by the guitarist in one of my bands, who has turned out to be my teacher.
I was mostly self taught on trombone, and only within the last few years learned about the impact of body tension on performance. I have many bad habits, it turns out, which limit my facility on my horn. When starting guitar I was hoping I could get off on the right foot, and not spend time practicing mistakes. Your book has been great.
Although I do not think of myself as particularly gifted with coordination, the no tempo practicing, posing, and really paying attention to each movement, have helped me progress in this early phase of learning fingerings, scales, chords etc.
Most important is how your approach has helped me mentally. I am over the anxiety about being too old to learn this instrument. I have been able to give up, most of the time, my old interest in hurrying to master the ax. Instead, I spend a lot of time in each session paying attention to my body, relaxing, and letting go of the surprising amount of tension which seems to want to creep in. Your Rotating Attention is also helping my bone playing. In fact, it seems so helpful I am recommending it to my therapy clients as a technique for them developing awareness of stress held in the body.
I'm having a great time, and am looking forward to 25 years plus of guitar playing.
I received your book 4 days ago and am now using your methods- less strain more gain. Already, I know what has to be done in order to improve on my practice techniques.
By the way if you remember the email I sent regarding pains in my elbow, well you will be pleased though probably not surprised to hear that the problem has practically gone away!!
I do the Foundation Exercises with the emphasis on being totally relaxed and being aware of where to find the method to induce the feeling required.
I'll keep in touch periodically but for now, many thanks and I will recommend your book to anyone who will listen.
Regards and good wishes,
I got my book just two days ago and ever since I have been reading it, I have been laughing out loud nearly every paragraph, with absolute delight.
Every mistake I have ever made is in your book. So I am approaching things as an absolute beginner even though I have played for many years.
I haven't even picked up my guitar since getting your book and I already think it was well worth the cost.
One recommendation: Make a video!! It would go so well with the book to actually see you applying your techniques. The pictures are great but live action would be even better. I'd buy it in a heartbeat!
Thanks again and I'll drop you a line as soon I get around to actually picking up the guitar, but it's so difficult to put the book down.
I saw the newsletter about the July 6th Workshop that I attended and all the praise that you gave to my technique. Well, I'd say that it was simply a demonstration of how powerful your book is that I've been working with, particularly the "Crutches" and "Butterflies".
No doubt, your book is a revolution in guitar learning techniques and I'm just thrilled these days with the thought that I'm one of those fortunate guys who started learning guitar with your revolutionary method.
The New York workshop was a great help to me, especially for my right hand. It was always difficult to visualize the sequence of correct movements of a rest/free stroke, just by reading (even though you have gone to extremes while detailing them in the book). But, now I know exactly what a rest stroke is, and a free stroke, and the proper way to perform it.
Also, meeting such a variety of players, and gaining from their skills and knowledge was a really great experience.
I've just joined the Mel Bay group on your site, and am working on the 1st-String Etude on page 8, something which appears soooo simple now. Probably I'd have never even bothered to work on it if I was not aware of "The Principles". But, now I know how important it is to practice this small piece with "Correct Practice".
Many many thanks for providing these revolutionary Understandings/ Tools/ and Exercises in learning the
I bought your book in January 2002 and read it through entirely a couple of times. I am from France (South East) and am a beginner player. I often read and re-read particular sections depending on the issue or problem I have with a new or existing passage.
I have to say that your book has completely changed my view on learning guitar and music. It has given me more enthusiasm about the guitar and has removed a lot of the frustration I had in the past. Basically, before reading your book I thought that learning guitar was about talent and practicing as much as I could until I got the passage right. So from time to time, I could play a passage well, and at other times I made lots of basic mistakes such as missing the string.
When I worked with your slow and "No Tempo Practice" I realize that I did not know my fingers very well! It might sound funny but from time to time I would "Pose" in a chord position and ask myself: can you lift the ring finger without moving the other one? Surprisingly, I am amazed that the index moves instead of the ring finger. It is only with attention that you speak about in your book, that I got it right. This happens with new chords and especially, with chords requesting 4 fingers like C9b.
Your book also, makes a good emphasis about attention and intention. In fact this is something we do instantly when we are kids and forgot about while life goes by. So again, since I am practicing using your "Principles" and especially paying attention to each finger's position, this has improved my playing ability, greatly.
I would now really like to find a teacher in France who knows about your teaching "Principles" as my teacher is focusing more on playing than learning. In other words he plays what I can't and then tells me to practice more! Thank you for your book, Jamie!
I've had your book for a few months now...and thought that I'd drop you a note to let you know what effect your publication has had upon my playing.
Before I begin, it might be helpful for you to know a little about me. I've been playing for roughly 20 years. I took formal lessons for the first three to four years. Over the past 16 years, I've largely been "self-taught"-(books...recordings...videos, etc.). I've played acoustic and electric...played in bands...and worked as a solo artist.
Most people might think that after playing guitar for 20 years, I'd be able to spot "trouble" areas...easily. Not so! After reading Chapter One, I discovered that I was experiencing a significant amount of pain when playing certain passages. In conjunction with this I also learned that "muscle memory" has a HUGE impact on the way we play.
After taking a close look at my playing, I discovered something that I learned 18 years ago was causing me all kinds of grief "today". Way back when...I was learning a relatively simple song called "Spanish Romance". The way that my teacher then taught me to play a specific bar had "trickled" into other aspects of my playing.
Rather than taking the time to figure out a "better" way to play that passage, I had simply forced my fingers to do something that they didn't want to do! Thanks to your book...I've corrected that specific problem!
Interestingly enough, at the same time that I purchased your book...I also bought your CD "Touched To My Tenderness". Coincidentally, the second song on the CD happens to be "Romance" (the same song that I mentioned in the earlier paragraph)! Imagine my surprise when I discovered the connection! The way that you played this song is nothing short of incredible. The tone...brilliant. The dynamics that you employ are breathtaking. In fact, the entire album is great.
Anyway...thanks for sharing your musical discoveries!
I just wanted to praise you on such a great learning tool...thanks for all the insight and the wonderful book!!!! I got a guitar for Christmas in 2000. For the first year or so, I just played around with it looking up tab and "playing" what I found. But for some reason I could not play as well as the original composer of the music!
So I found your website while searching the Internet for guitar sites to start a serious learning process. I read a lot, if not all of the testimonials on your site. I thought to myself, if there are this many people praising you for what you wrote in a book, and it has tremendously helped them to play the guitar...I need to get it. So I ordered your book in the winter of 2001, and was very pleased at how fast it arrived.
I understand that patience is an absolute necessity if you want to play the guitar, and play it well. So I practiced everyday for awhile and found myself to be one of those people that needs to be shown what to practice, along with "The Principles", so I am now working with a guitar teacher. I am very pleased to say that with the teacher giving me things to practice, and then practicing them using the Foundation Exercises you have created, I have progressed as a player very rapidly in the past 2 months.
I, myself, have noticed the progress. Now, I'm practicing at least 2 hours a night after work!! That is something I never did before. Also, I'm slowing down and concentrating on what I am doing wrong and correcting it. I want to thank you personally for such a great book, that is easy to understand and applies to everything in life...not just the guitar.
I have turned many people to your website so that they could see what I am talking about. Many thanks for the great book, the essential practice tools, and your wonderful website that I visit at least 3 times a week. I am getting better and better and look forward to reading more from you and progressing to my next level as a player.
Thanks for all that you do!!!
Thank you VERY much for sending the book so quickly. I received it last week and read it from cover to cover. I can't begin to tell you how much it has helped me already. I've been playing for about 10 years and most of the time felt like I was banging my head off a brick wall. "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar" will increase/expedite my development as a guitarist ten-fold.
Please accept my gratitude, the book is fantastic!!!
Using your book, "The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar", I have nailed a lick in two days that I gave up on two years ago!
It's the finger tapping intro from Mr. Big's 'Green Tinted Sixties Mind' at 102 bpm.
I used the "play two-three-touch" approach in your book, and it worked wonders. I made another test and found a fingerstyle lick that was pretty tricky and I nailed that in 1 hour.
"The Principles" is the best investment a guitarist can make.
I'm going to start promoting your book by word of mouth here in Canberra.
All the best,
P.S. Your CD is Fantastic. You're such a good player; you make the music feel good.
I am the guy who once wrote to you from Iran; you replied to my call for help, I bought the Principles and you did kindly post it to me all the way from US to Iran.
I am sure you know it better than anyone else that your book did entirely change my way of looking at this intriguingly attractive instrument. Your book was, is and will always remain the "turning point" of my musical life.
Without having the least intention to exaggerate the importance of the Principles, I must say that your book is more of a "movement" and the "insight" you introduced to the guitar playing world equals the insight introduced by the European intellectuals to the dogmatic world of the 18th century. I am convinced that my comparison holds true in sustaining not only the enlightening similarities of the two movements but their effects and outcomes too:
- After the Enlightenment man's way of looking at the world changed forever
- After the Principle it is almost impossible to view and conceive the guitar learning mechanisms/approaches/processes the same way we used to do in the past
Fortunately, you didn't do what most writers do these days: sell the book and goodbye! Your newsletters are coming to us regularly to well establish and reinforce the "insight" you had brought, by the Principles, to the corner of our rooms , to the most intimate moments of the constant endeavors of our musical lives (just as a periodic rain refreshes and guarantees the growth of crops once planted in a field). We read your newsletters and thank you very much for the attention you pay to the healthy growth of the seeds you've sown in the once barren lands of our minds. Thanks for not leaving us.
I am learning to play the electric guitar, my teenager plays the violin
I am always amazed by your infinite wisdom. Your newsletters (may I call
Not only have your newsletters improved our playing ability, but they have
Thank you very much for sharing your gifts of knowledge, talent and
You are a wonderful gift to everyone that you touch.
I began teaching a beginner 3 weeks ago and everything is going really
It's an incredible thing to have a complete proven method to teach the
So, again, I have to thank you for the Principles! I'm look forward to
You "may not know how to play the guitar", but you have wonderful insight into the human mind. How does one position ones self to be able to see so well?
I fear I have limited myself greatly by my own beliefs and attitudes. In my never ending quest to be a better guitar player today than I was yesterday I have found I have had to change my beliefs before I could change my playing. When playing a scale I believed the fingering should be this way with no thought to doing something different. But I have found new notes and new hope in trying different fingerings. Hey stop, what was that I just heard, back up, that’s not supposed to be in this scale but I like the way it sounds. Where can I work that in to a solo somewhere? If I change the fingering now I’m in a better position to move here or do that. Without an open mind and the right attitude I would never have found these eureka moments.
It’s all part of me now and I welcome it. For I may not know how to play the guitar either but I can’t wait to try.
P.S. I’ve heard you play and it’s wonderful, thank you.
This is a very big thank you for the book guitar principles and the amazing service you provide with the guitar principles website.
It’s fair to say that for all my guitar life, which consists of around 17 years, (god that’s scary) I have never reached my full potential. I’m generally a pretty nervous and impatient person and that definitely impacted my playing for all these years.
Through bad practicing habits, bad teachers, a lot of impatience and enormous amounts of tension, I have never reached my full potential as a guitar player. I’ve always had the desire and determination, but as you know, that’s certainly not enough to achieving your goals as a guitar player.
In the last couple of years I joined a cover band and started getting regular work playing local pubs which I loved but also struggled with. To the average person, I probably wasn’t a bad guitar player but in front of someone who had some musical knowledge, you could see and probably hear that I struggled in a lot of areas. I loved being on stage but hated that fact that most nights I had so much tension that even the simplest of open chords where a struggle to get through.
I was so frustrated that at one stage wanted to quit guitar altogether. Last year whilst traveling, I discovered your book through the internet and since then I haven’t looked back.
Once my travels were completed, I sat down with your book at the end of last year and totally changed all my practicing techniques. I started applying the principles and the changes were almost instant. On the weekend I played my first gig with the band again...boy was I a different player! I still have a lot of work to go but the tension that I used often play with was almost gone and for the first time I was able to let the music take hold of me which was truly a fantastic experience.
Thank you Jamie, I am so happy I finally now have the confidence to live my dream as a musician.
Hello and just a note to convey my heartfelt 'Thank You' for the wonderful material you and Guitar Principles team send me weekly. There are times when I eagerly await these newsletters and other vital bits of information.
Jamie, a friend gave me your Principles course. I have been a hack hobby musician all my life. I have taken guitar, harp and cello lessons. I asked my luthier friend..."how do you find a good teacher?" He replied, "Good question, let me know."
I want to tell how blown away I am by what you’ve accomplished. You are clearly a great artist and a world class master teacher. What blows me away is your ability to transmit your concept your, approach (I say approach but I don’t really know what to call it...system, course, technique, philosophy, science, path, way) and your generosity and willingness to pass on what you’ve worked so hard to discover.
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