Watching a great musical performance one can be left in awe at the effortless mastery that is demonstrated. That effortlessness is not there because of the Master title, but it is there because through hard work, and patient practice with attention to detail a performer has mastered the effort required to play their music.
The same is said for any movement with sports or artistic endeavor such as painting or drawing. The effortless motion comes from muscles working together, coordinating without dysfunctional tension and a clear focused mind. You feel this in golf or baseball when you hit that sweet spot without excess strength, or feel the power in motion with swimming, rowing or running. If you read any books or listen to any music teacher, they will always talk about slow methodic practice. Sometimes they may or may not say something very important to you. They will tell you to “LISTEN”. Not only is it important to put in the leg work and method into your practice, you must move beyond the mechanics and listen to the sounds that you are creating! This is where the feel in the music comes. Listen to how the tone and clarity of sound changes with your touch. Each person is different, with different build in their subset of muscular structures and body shapes. Each person has different areas where they build up and focus their tensions. We all breath, but at our own pace. Therefore it’s not possible to express an all encompassing manual for effortlessness. Teachers give you the absolute best advice and methodology to lead you toward the mastery of movement, and they can point out issues and direct exercises to help refine the technique, but ultimately it is up to the individual player to listen to the subtleties of their body and their interaction with the instrument to develop the proper touch and tone with effortless mastery.
Lots of books on the subject of mastery use such grand images of effortless mastery which is the goal for any top performer . Seriously though, for the amateur and casual player, this may seem to be a very lofty ideal to chase after. Most people hardly have the time to spend with their families, much less with their instrument. So why bother? Why does the golfer spend time on the driving range, or on the putting green on the odd weekend? The answer is the same for guitar. First it’s the enjoyment of doing an activity that makes you feel good. Secondly, there is the challenge. For some it is to challenge yourself to be better at doing something that you enjoy that brings satisfaction. There are also those golden moments where you hit that sweet spot, where you get that feel and touch the sweet spot where the music just sings and you truly find your expression in a single moment in time. Finally and sadly the most under realized aspect of classical guitar playing is in sharing.
People regularly get together in groups on the golf course, or find a tennis or racquetball buddy that they get together with. For classical guitar, this happens very little. Most people isolate themselves either to their living room, bedroom or basement for practice. I would suggest for any classical guitar player to look for any opportunity they can to share their music, especially with other classical guitarists, but also with non-classical guitarists.
One aspect of golf people talk about is getting out in the fresh air, walking down the greens with good friends. Classical guitar needs this as well. There’s nothing better than some fresh air, wonderful flowers, refreshing breeze in the air, and classical guitar. Golfers have their golf club to retire to for a snack or a meal. The same is there for classical guitar with a picnic or BBQ, except you don’t need to worry about membership fees!