Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Re: Does picking speed come from the Wrist or Elbow?
Having studied Alexander Technique for 6 years, I have now developed an almost hyper-awareness of how the muscles in my body work (or don't work). It's just one of those side effects of Alexander technique.
I stopped playing guitar for almost 5 years due to back/neck/hand problems, and after taking it up again, it became clear to me that good picking technique is an ultimately personal thing, as we all work mechanically differently from each other.
The important thing from an AT point of view is not to tense up any of the muscles involved (which is pretty much every muscle in your body in one way or another) and that comes primarily from the way you hold your head and neck. So if you get it wrong there, the rest is doomed anyway. So for me, good picking technique is having my neck free and being super relaxed. This in turn enforces good posture which is crucial for any guitar tecnique for me, and good picking technique is inevitable in this case - either everything is free and fluid or its not.
This raises an interesting phenomena that I have recently started experiencing: that good technique is not necessarily a case of burning notes for hours on end, but naturally develops with good posture and use of the body. I can testify to that because after taking up guitar after a 5 year absence, my picking speed was faster and more fluid on that first session than it was 5 years previous. Granted, I'm no robopicker but I'm not too bad.
Getting back to the poll subject, I use both my elbow and wrist, aiming for the position of mechanically least resistance at all times.