Videos of Pat O’Brien’s Teaching

Patrick O’Brien was a much-beloved teacher and performer. An accomplished musician, he played lute, theorbo and guitar, and to some degree, most plucked-string instruments. But he was most revered as a teacher. Inspiring and generous to a fault, he helped many players afflicted by musicians’ injuries and repetitive stress disorders. The videos of Pat’s teaching that are collected on the LSA’s YouTube channel were recorded by Pat in the early 1990’s as part of his rehab work. They were not originally intended for public viewing, but now provide a rare window into his wisdom and insights.

For articles from the Quarterly, Journal, and other resources, visit the Pat O’Brien Instruction page.

Pat O’Brien talks about muscles controlling the lateral movement of fingers. He introduces and demonstrates the concept of adduction and how to develop the adduction muscles to counterbalance those of abduction which we use in everyday life.

Pat O’Brien discusses and illustrates left hand position and what to consider in finding a way to hold the guitar. He also discusses the problem with the concept of 1-finger-per-fret for beginning students. Not just for guitarists!

Pat O’Brien works with a guitar player on right-hand position and use.

Pat O’Brien works with a guitar player on left-hand position and use.

Pat O’Brien continues the discussion begun in the previous video of how the left hand works. This one includes a discussion about factors that go into coming up with a way to hold the guitar.

Pat O’Brien answers questions posed by a guitar player on topics concerning both the right and left hands.

Pat O’Brien teaches a jazz guitar player whose over-practicing has caused his left hand to go numb from carpel tunnel syndrome. This video is more narrative than instruction, but includes some close-up demonstrations. Both the conversation and demonstrations are very instructive.

This video starts with short performances from two students who suffered from focal dystonia. It is part interview, part demonstration, and there is a description of what the transition to a new technique has meant for each. The interview section has Pat O’Brien asking questions so one of the students can tell his story of healing. Included in the topics covered is how the wrong instrument can get a player into technical trouble.

Pat O’Brien shows a player of the banjo how to use the right hand. Fascinating discussions.

Pat O’Brien demonstrates step-by-step the set-up and use of the right hand.

Pat O’Brien discusses mostly topics pertaining to the right hand. The reference instrument is guitar.

If you have found this material helpful, please consider making a making a donation to the Lute Society of America in memory of either Patrick O’Brien, whose teaching lives on in these documents, or Douglas Alton Smith, through whose efforts this material has been gathered. Your donations will be used to support scholarships to LuteFest, our biennial week of music making, lectures and instruction, in their names.