CGC 079 : Playing With Ease – David Leisner

//CGC 079 : Playing With Ease – David Leisner

CGC 079 : Playing With Ease – David Leisner

David Leisner has authored a book entitled Playing With Ease : A Healthy Approach to Guitar Technique and it draws upon his extensive experience and investigations into body mechanics and guitar playing.


David shares a number of insights in this interview but if you would  like to read more from his book you can purchase it from:


Developing an understanding of how our body can best interact with our instrument is not only crucial for a healthy and long life in music but it will also remove obstacles that might be impeding our playing.


I hope you enjoy this conversation with David Leisner!

2018-11-18T13:56:04+00:0016 Comments


  1. william a gifford November 19, 2018 at 12:29 am - Reply

    Hi Simon,

    Good to have the opportunity to hear a new approach to practice from a global heavyweight. Always very enlightening to hear how others have managed to make their own way by finding a different approach along with mentoring for the global classroom.

    Well done.


    Bill Gifford

    • Simon November 19, 2018 at 9:05 am - Reply

      Thanks, Bill. Glad you enjoyed it and yes I agree it is great to hear different approaches.

  2. Joy Soobrayen November 19, 2018 at 12:43 am - Reply

    Thank you Simon for sharing this very insightful podcast. The advice of David will be particularly useful to me who has just undergone surgery of my cervical spine. My situation worsened because of bad postures. When I’ll get back to my guitar practice soon, I’ll certainly pay particular attention to all these useful pieces of advice. By the way, I’ve ordered the book which will be another useful companion. Thank you again.

    • Simon November 19, 2018 at 9:06 am - Reply

      Hi Joy,

      Glad to hear that it might be useful but of course, I am sorry to hear of the situation with your spine!
      Thanks for joining us the other night.

  3. what November 19, 2018 at 6:16 am - Reply

    Excellent podcast.
    So then I listened to David’s playing – and ordered Playing with Ease immediately.
    Thank you David.
    Thank you Simon.

    • Simon November 19, 2018 at 9:05 am - Reply

      Great! I hope you enjoy the book.

  4. Cipriano Pinto November 19, 2018 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Hi Simon

    Only recently started learning to play the guitar.As one who has practiced Tai Chi for many years huge benefits can had in keeping the mind and body relaxed and removing tension,and one can enjoy playing the guitar.

    Kind regards

    • Simon November 19, 2018 at 9:07 am - Reply

      Hi Cipriano,

      Thank you for the comment, yes I can imagine that Tai Chi would have a wonderful effect on the body.

  5. Michael Clunn November 20, 2018 at 7:10 am - Reply

    That was definitely a much different approach to guitar, and in a way very refreshing to hear. Very excellent interview with great questions that really explored the topic. Classical guitar rarely gets anything new and exciting like this; and now we have a great inside look! Thank you Simon!

  6. Peter Webb November 20, 2018 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Very interesting podcast. I agree entirely about the importance of relaxation, which is something that took me many years to work out. None of my teachers even mentioned this – even though it’s vital. Eliminating tension in the body is the key to doing anything well, which IMO means letting the subconscious mind take over. Tension (like facial grimaces) occurs when the conscious mind starts trying to tell the body what to do – which never works. Experiments using brain monitoring have shown that people who are learning to do something use a different part of the brain (the conscious mind) to when they’ve learnt how to do it (the subconscious mind). It’s the subconscious mind that knows what to do when you’ve learnt how to do it and the trick is to prevent the conscious mind interfering. That’s when you forget what note to play or hook your tee shot into the lake.

    That’s why I’m a bit wary of over-analysing the mechanics of playing the guitar – or anything for that matter. I also wonder if David is “over-medicalising” the various problems that people have playing the guitar. I wasn’t even aware of the condition of focal dystonia but it does match a condition that I have in my right hand when the third finger (especially) tends to retract towards the palm – very annoying. Maybe I’m wrong but I just think this is a bad habit that I’ve acquired because of tension rather than a neurological condition.

    However it’s a very interesting podcast and it’s given me a few things to resolve.

  7. Bruce Donehower November 20, 2018 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Just back from a walk and listening … Very helpful and interesting podcast. Thank you, Simon and David. When I was younger, I ran into quite a few of my fellow guitarists and a few lutenists who had practiced themselves into physical incapacity. No one knew much about what was going on, on the somatic level. Methods like Rolfing and Feldenkrais and Alexander were just hitting the discussion. Jump forward a few decades, and the somatic approach is now quite well in the discussion. David’s insights will help spread the wisdom. But I also think that in order to truly benefit from the insights one needs to practice something like Tai Chi, proper yoga (David is right: I know lots of people who injured themselves with a bad teacher), Aikido, or any meditative somatic discipline that guides attention to the body and breath in a centering way. Being with the guitar will be better, in my experience. Also, fascinating discussion of the left hand mechanics — in particular thoughts about the “heavy left arm” method of laying weight on the fretboard as opposed to what David describes.

  8. Bonnie Stenstrom November 21, 2018 at 3:32 am - Reply

    Simon, thank you for doing this podcast. Having had many friends have to stop their classical guitar studies due to various arm injuries, I’m aware of how important it is to use the body in a manner that is conducive to playing with ease and am always eager to try and improve my own approach to this important topic. I just purchased the book and look forward to learning from David Leisner’s forty years of experience, personal and otherwise, investigating this arena. Also congratulations to you for the photography work!

  9. Donna Zitzelberger November 24, 2018 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this podcast, Simon. I ordered the book and look forward to studying David’s work.

  10. John Rabinowitz November 24, 2018 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    What a great interview. It’s so interesting to me that David said the first place that shows tension is in the face…when I review my own videos for submission to CGCA I first close my eyes and just listen. During the second listening when I let myself view the video I’m alwasys noticing that I am pursing my lips or my eyebrows are arching etc. and say to myself, “why are you making that face?” Now I know. I have ordered the book and look forward to more revelations. Thank you Simon and David. JR

  11. Derek Mansen November 27, 2018 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    This book sounds like it was written specifically for me. Ordered! Great interview Simon.

  12. Linda Tsardakas November 27, 2018 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    Wonderful interview! I have heard of David Leisner’s experience with focal dystonia and how he cured himself. His book must be full of sound advice and very valuable information – I just purchased it and look forward to reading as soon as it arrives.

    About those meet-ups you mention In the introduction to the podcast Simon – the community at Classical Guitar Corner is truly special and members have met at various locations in the U.S. But don’t forget those “mini meet-ups” abroad…in Germany for example. It’s great to meet members in person wherever possible.

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