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Guitar Talk with Tony Cox
Lesson 1: Memory and Practice

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Accomplished acoustic guitar players are everywhere these days. There’s a whole calendar of festivals dedicated to them and as they mingle and influence each other, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for one to arrive with a totally individual ‘voice’. Tony Cox, however, may just have managed this. His guitar style has as distinctive a South African tang, with added tones from his native Zimbabwe, as his accent.

Rob Adams 
The Herald - 2009
Winner of SAMA 2003 with china
Winner of SAMA 2003 with Matabele ants
Winner of SAMA 2008 with Blue Anthem
Nominated for SAMA 2015 with Padkos
Lesson 1: Memory and Practice
Muscle memory

There's an odd phenomenon that always crops up with my beginner students and it can last well into the intermediary stages unless addressed early.

When one learns something new on the guitar, the conscious mind is very active in learning that technique, trying to understand the mechanics of it and finally being able to play it and put the music in it. The student will then feel very happy that they've finally come to grips with that technique and several months will go by.

Technique

In this time the conscious mind is no longer involved with the technique and muscle memory has taken over.

Muscle memory is important but only part of the whole. Generally the novice finds a tempo that they're comfortable with and they tend to stick to this tempo whenever they play. There's a feeling of great satisfaction of something achieved. Then teacher comes along and says play that thing at 50% of your normal tempo. What happens? The entire thing breaks down, fingers are tied, the brain is flummoxed and the student keeps apologising saying stuff like, 'this is ridiculous, I was playing this perfectly just last night!'

Practice

This is obviously not a good way to learn and your technique will abandon you if nerves come into the mix such as playing for a live audience.

Whereas, if you took the time to master the technique and understand once and for all the mechanics involved, even if you are nervous you still consciously know what the technique involves and how it is put together and your live performing will be solid.

An excellent and thorough way to learn any technique is to be able to play it at any tempo. If you've been practising a lot at full tempo, test yourself to see if you can play it at half that tempo. If it all holds together then you're on the right track.

Tony Cox​

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Lewes Guitar Festival has been delighted to invite guitar maestro Tony Cox toperform twice at our festival over the last few years - he's simply an entrancingperformer who has that special knack of engaging all his audience while at the sametime delivering a highly skilled and entertaining show. Highly recommended.

Laurence Hill 
Festival Director, Lewes, UK - 2006

Tony conjured up varying moods and layers of emotion and swept the audiencealong from American Blue Grass to the camp grounds of Shongweni, to theturbulence of life on Zimbabwe’s farms.

The Highway Mail 
SA - 2007

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