"Key Turning Motion" - It's all in my head!

TLDR; I started out trying to implement a DBX using the “motorcycle grip” motion. Switching to the “key turning motion” has worked much better.

I’m a couple of years into my alternate picking journey, and I’m greatly indebted to Troy and CTC for introducing me to Andy Wood and the whole crowd of excellent Knoxville musicians including Uncle Ben Eller. I’m a three-time attendee at Andy’s Woodshed camp and have gone to two other gigs with Andy and guests at Open Chord Stage in Knoxville.

Anyway, a few months back Uncle Ben included mention of the “key turning motion” in one of his YouTube posts, and that sparked me to try it instead of the “motorcycle grip” motion I had adopted upon seriously pursuing a DBX picking motion. This has made a significant improvement in my accuracy and a non-trivial increase in speed for crosspicking, 1NPS arps, etc.

I think what happened early on was that I saw the slo-mo videos of Andy’s mechanic, and interpreted it as one integrated motion including both translation and rotation (if I recall these terms correctly), and tried and failed to follow his example. So I pursued translation and the “motorcycle grip” motion.

Ben’s suggestion lead me to try something similar to Andy’s motion as the sum of two motions rather than one continuous integrated motion but the result effectively is the same, an arc that goes into and comes out of the strings during the translation.

One person’s view.

Glad to hear you’re seeing improvement. Very simply, Andy’s motion is just the hand moving back and forth with no arm or key turning motion involved. It does not feel like anything is turning, and is best learned (we think) by just moving the hand sideways, fast, while playing a phrase that requires double escape, without actually trying to “do” anything special.

When people say “key turning”, they usually mean forearm motion which is when the arm itself turns/wiggles. This feels very different, like you are doing something twisty to cause it. When we said “motorcycle grip” in our older lessons, this is also what we were referring to. Same thing, more or less. (Oversimplifying but more or less.). All the techniques that use firearm joint motion feel “twisty”, for lack of a better word. Andy’s feels like the total absence of that.

It’s not really possible to know from a written description what motion you’re making, but if you’d like to film a clip we’re always interested in seeing what people are up to!

You can also make a platform critique for more targeted feedback from us if you’d like.

Perhaps my “key turning” is more “attitudinal” than physical. I’ll take a video and post it under Technique Critique.

I won’t create a new topic for the videos. Here’s some fragments. These were all done in one take with no attempt at perfection. Thanks @Troy and @tommo for any comments in advance. I’m very happy with my progress!

Beaumont Rolls:

Glasgow Kiss:

Leather Britches:

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Nice pickin! Yeah to me I can see your forearm appears ‘stuck’ to the guitar body, so…no key turning happening :slight_smile: If thinking about it that way helps though…no harm I guess!

Ok here’s the slow exaggerated-motion version of my movement that I use for the first few warmups. What do you call this?

To me that looks more like that motorcycle rev form. But I should probably stop commenting lol! I have been known to think I see forearm rotation when the motion is flex-stension/reverse-dart-thrower so I am not a reliable source.

The thing I do know is, if it can go fast, good! If not, bad!

From what I can tell that absolutely has forearm motion along with wrist extension.

I think there’s a lot of range there between 902 and forearm rotation where you get some things that are barely noticeable as motorcycle rev because of so little forearm movement and vice verse (not as much wrist extension vs forearm movement) so it’s easy to get thrown off.

Thanks for these clips! And nice work on the experimentation. This is how you make progress, by constantly trying new things until something suddenly works.

The first three clips are all wrist motion. There is no key turning or “motorcycle grip” motion there because there is no forearm joint motion happening. It is just the hand moving back and forth.

The last clip looks like the motion we see players make when they try to “do crosspicking”. This almost never works, because it’s a simulation they can only do at slow speeds, and also contains extra joint motion (forearm) that they may not even make when going faster. Can you do that motion fast? If not, you can get rid of it, it’s only going to waste your time. Again, this is true only if you can’t do it fast. If you * can * do it as fast as the other clips, then it’s just a second motion and it’s fine to work on it.

Finally, just to be sure you are on the right track, when you do the motion from your Beaumont clip, do you sense any arm tension or speed limit? Ideally you shouldn’t. You can test this by trying to go faster than the Beaumont clip. You should be able to keep speeding up while maintaining a feeling of smoothness. As you get faster, you may not hit all the notes, and the motion may flatten out or hit wrong strings. But that’s ok, that’s the test — to make sure it never feels tensiony and there is no hard speed limit.

FYI not sure if you know about this, but if you want guaranteed feedback from us (the instructor team), you can make critiques on the platform now.

This is a help to us because these critqiues are organized by title and date, and we can quickly reference previous ones to chart your progress. It’s included in your subscription.

a) No, I can’t do the “exaggerated motion” faster, and don’t intend to. I use it to remind my wrist how to move this recently-learned motion. At some point I can discard this entirely.
b) It sounds like I have achieved something like the motion used by Andy Wood. A couple of years ago when I tried to emulate Andy’s motion, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t tell my wrist “move in this shallow arc”. At that point I decided to use two motions, wrist deviation and the “motorcycle grip”. That was an improvement, but with a plateau. Upon the suggestion of the key turning motion, I instructed my wrist to try that, along with deviation. It sounds like I “failed” in the sense that I’m not really doing “forearm rotation”, but I “succeeded” in terms of finding a worthwhile DBX motion.

BTW this is lunch with Andy last week getting ready for Woodshed 2022. I’m on the left. He’s saying “go practice”.

The discarding should happen now. The two motions are not similar and much like training wheels, doing the wrong one doesn’t generally work as a way of “working up to” a better one. I understand it may seem that way, because you stumbled across both as part of a general process of experimentation. But that’s because you followed a process that produced many new ideas. This is good! But now that you know which one works, the only way to get better at the correct motion is by doing the correct one. This is true even if you fail to “remember” it on occasion. The recall is part of the learning. But do that by feeding your motor system the best facsimile you can do, not a known lesser version. That’s how it learns best.

Again, just to make sure no effort and time is wasted, it’s important to test the good motion by making it go fast. A truly efficient motion will not cause tension when sped up. If it passes the test, that’s great. Then you have something you can work with.

Great photo! We saw Andy in NYC a little earlier in the year. Great guy, one of the best.