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starting classical guitar


musicalhair

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Hey,

 

As some might know, I'm in a "woodshedding" phase where I'm working on my classical playing: going over studies and etudes that I either fooled around with or never bothered with, and in general just getting back to basics and rebuilding a foundation. Partly I'm doing this because I got real undisciplined in my playing, partly (now mainly but I've been planning this major woodshed thing for years now) because I put the guitar down for a while, and partly because I'm going to go back to school in some capacity.

 

Anyway, I was thinking about the idea that if anyone wanted to start playing classical stuff their are people here that know about it. I'm not going to call anyone out but there are plenty of people far better than I, but in the spirit of sharing and of community I thought we could talk about some studies and etudes and all and for people that have never done any of these (Sor studies, Giuliani etc) we could give them the idea to go ahead and start and help each other slug our way through them.

 

No reading, not a problem just want to learn.

 

If this sounds good, post it here. I think through the combined resources of the forum threads and PM's, anyone could get a real good handle on a broad range of little studies and maybe even a piece or two.

 

I'm off to see Mike Menkevich about a guitar now and I'll check back later,

 

Logging off :wave: (Hey, Miro) ,

 

Musicalhair-- who is not-- nor is he claiming to be-- qualified to "lead" this expedition, if I were claiming it, I'd title this thread the "Donner Party".

check out some comedy I've done:

http://louhasspoken.tumblr.com/

My Unitarian Jihad Name: Brother Broadsword of Enlightened Compassion.

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Step one: grow those fingernails. I play mostly nylon string these days, not just classical though. I think classical technique is worth learning, but it takes a lot of patience. I think I've finally mastered Recuerdos de Alhambra after years of trying to develop a good tremelo technique. And no, I'm not talking 'bout whammy bars!
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Originally posted by Philidor:

Step one: grow those fingernails. I play mostly nylon string these days, not just classical though. I think classical technique is worth learning, but it takes a lot of patience. I think I've finally mastered Recuerdos de Alhambra after years of trying to develop a good tremelo technique. And no, I'm not talking 'bout whammy bars!

And...learn how to shape them (fingernails) and maintain them.

 

RdlA is a very good tremelo study, but it is definitely not a piece to be tackled by the beginner. It is probably RCM grade 8 or 9 (I can't remember for sure, but I can go back and look at my syllabus). In fact, I don't think I'd encourage even trying to learn effects like tremelo until at least the 3rd year of study. If you can't play an even, clean triplet pattern, you'll never be able to play good, even, clean tremelo. You hear an awful lot of people with an uneven "loping" tremelo...a result of trying to rush the process. I have heard some rather appalling renditions of RdlA and Estudio Brillante and even Leyenda by people who really should be concentrating on learning basic technique rather than trying to master virtuoso music.

"And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her."

~Paris Hilton

 

BWAAAHAAAHAAHAAA!!!

 

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Originally posted by musicalhair:

Hey,

 

As some might know, I'm in a "woodshedding" phase where I'm working on my classical playing: going over studies and etudes that I either fooled around with or never bothered with, and in general just getting back to basics and rebuilding a foundation. Partly I'm doing this because I got real undisciplined in my playing, partly (now mainly but I've been planning this major woodshed thing for years now) because I put the guitar down for a while, and partly because I'm going to go back to school in some capacity.

 

Anyway, I was thinking about the idea that if anyone wanted to start playing classical stuff their are people here that know about it. I'm not going to call anyone out but there are plenty of people far better than I, but in the spirit of sharing and of community I thought we could talk about some studies and etudes and all and for people that have never done any of these (Sor studies, Giuliani etc) we could give them the idea to go ahead and start and help each other slug our way through them.

 

No reading, not a problem just want to learn.

 

If this sounds good, post it here. I think through the combined resources of the forum threads and PM's, anyone could get a real good handle on a broad range of little studies and maybe even a piece or two.

 

I'm off to see Mike Menkevich about a guitar now and I'll check back later,

 

Logging off :wave: (Hey, Miro) ,

 

Musicalhair-- who is not-- nor is he claiming to be-- qualified to "lead" this expedition, if I were claiming it, I'd title this thread the "Donner Party".

I think it's a great idea. I'll see what I can dig up without violating copyrights....the link that Picker posted is a very good resource.

"And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her."

~Paris Hilton

 

BWAAAHAAAHAAHAAA!!!

 

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I can't really help you Musicalhair, my approach to classical is totally undisciplined. About half of my playing is classical or at least nylon string fingerstyle, but I don't really play many exersizes or studies. I only play a few scales as a warm up and to check my tone as I start playing.

 

I basicly only play a piece if I have heard it and really want to learn it. That means my motives are totally musical, not concerned with technique or showing off. It probably means I'll never be a performing classical guitarist but it doesn't matter to me. I am not going to do a tremolo study since I don't like the sound of tremolo pieces. I know this limits my playing but I play for my own enjoyment so its really not important.

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Like all styles of music, many roads lead to Rome - you just have to work at whatever suits you best. I mentioned tremelo as an an example of the patience required to learn classical and how rewarding it can be, it's definately not a good starting point for beginners.

I learnt classical pieces back in my busking days along with all kinds of styles of music. No formal training, but I put a lot of time into learning and playing, still do. Once the classical bug bites you, there's no turning back - there's always some new challenge that you're endeavouring to come to terms with (which is true of all other styles of course).

For beginners, you can't really go past Romance. It's simple to begin with and gradually increases in difficulty. It's one of those pieces that sounds a lot more complex than it is, it's great to practise on because it focuses on some basic principles of classical playing and, from a buskers point of view, impresses the punters enough to throw some money in your case.

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Originally posted by Philidor:

Like all styles of music, many roads lead to Rome - you just have to work at whatever suits you best. I mentioned tremelo as an an example of the patience required to learn classical and how rewarding it can be, it's definately not a good starting point for beginners.

I learnt classical pieces back in my busking days along with all kinds of styles of music. No formal training, but I put a lot of time into learning and playing, still do. Once the classical bug bites you, there's no turning back - there's always some new challenge that you're endeavouring to come to terms with (which is true of all other styles of course).

For beginners, you can't really go past Romance. It's simple to begin with and gradually increases in difficulty. It's one of those pieces that sounds a lot more complex than it is, it's great to practise on because it focuses on some basic principles of classical playing and, from a buskers point of view, impresses the punters enough to throw some money in your case.

Yep. There are several pieces named "Romance" or "Romanza" by different composers, but I assume the one you're talking about is the anonymous "Romanza", or "Romanza de Amour", or "Romance"...that's the one that most beginners want to learn. It's actually a RCM Grade 5 piece, but it's one that could be tackled a little earlier. This one isn't particularly difficult to get under your fingers, but to make it musical is a whole different story. It's very good for teaching and exploring phrasing, dynamics, and musicality...and it's a great triplets exercise.

 

For the absolute beginner, one of the best things to do is to take the studies (Sor, Carcassi, Giuliani, etc.) and play them as compositions, not just exercises...make them musical. Start with the first ones and go to the last ones. Some of them get fairly complex, and some of them make beautiful performance pieces. Plus, they will (along with a good teacher) instill solid technique. If a beginner just HAS to go over his head, Romance (Anon) isn't a bad one to do it with. The techniques used are pretty basic.

 

One of the WORST mistakes a person can make as a beginner (if they want to be a good CG player, that is) is to get too impatient and try to tackle pieces that are too far beyond their playing skill level. It's not that they are going to damage their hands physically or destroy the guitar or anything like that...it's that they will engrain bad habits..they will be forced to try to use techniques that they are not ready for..the basics aren't there yet upon which to build those techniques. Once an improper technique becomes habit, it is very difficult to correct. Bad technique will absolutely limit development.

"And so I definitely, when I have a daughter, I have a lot of good advice for her."

~Paris Hilton

 

BWAAAHAAAHAAHAAA!!!

 

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Originally posted by Sasquatch51:

One of the WORST mistakes a person can make as a beginner (if they want to be a good CG player, that is) is to get too impatient and try to tackle pieces that are too far beyond their playing skill level. It's not that they are going to damage their hands physically or destroy the guitar or anything like that...it's that they will engrain bad habits..they will be forced to try to use techniques that they are not ready for..the basics aren't there yet upon which to build those techniques. Once an improper technique becomes habit, it is very difficult to correct. Bad technique will absolutely limit development.

:thu: I think that would be relevent for all styles of guitar playing. I found that out the hard way :)
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For the absolute beginner, one of the best things to do is to take the studies (Sor, Carcassi, Giuliani, etc.) and play them as compositions, not just exercises...make them musical. Start with the first ones and go to the last ones. Some of them get fairly complex, and some of them make beautiful performance pieces. Plus, they will (along with a good teacher) instill solid technique.
There is a Cd by Segovia-The Segovia Collection Volume 7-Guitar Etudes (MCA Classics MCAD-42073) that has him playing studies by Aguado, Sor, Giuliani, Coste and Tarrega. Some of them are incredibly simple beginners pieces but Segovia really demonstrates how beautiful they can sound.

Trying to match his tone and phrasing on even the simplest studies is an incredible and humbling lesson in musicianship.

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I'm glad to see the responses, I was half afraid this thread would drop like a rock to the bottom of the page in an hour. But, no offense intended, I expected like all of you guys to be on board! Almost everyone that posted was someone that I was thinking of when I said "I'm not going to call anyone out". I was hoping for more of our younger or more beginner crowd to chime in. As "we" all know, the benefits could be great for anyone.

 

Maybe I sound a little like my grandmother when I was a kid telling me how important it will be for me to learn how to play Croquet, how important it would be for networking and meeting people, and not to mention how fun it is. We never actually played croquet so I know next to nothing about it. I'm wondering how old someone has to be to even know what I'm talking about in this analogy.

 

Hey Yze, I dont' know if you do any fingerpicking but if not or if very little I'd imagine that that would be the only real skill you'd have to develop. Since you teach a lot I would think you'd benefit a lot especially from going through the time-tested studies and minatures of Giuliani, Carcassi, Aguado, Sor, Tarrega and all the others. The Brower studies and the Villa Lobos and a lot of the more modern composers/teachers are still subject to copywrite so while we couldn't freely share them here, we could talk about them. Dude, you really should check out those, esecially the Browers and you'd really get a kick out of the Angelo Gilardino "trancendental etudes". I really think both as sources for inspiration for your own playing and for stuff to use while you're teaching, that the classical stuff is something you should at least get familiar with at some point.

 

As always, you guys make great points. I've got to run right now but I'll check back later and post more comments, as I'm leaving some things out I wanted to say.

 

That Giuliani link is wicked, thanks. There is also a similar Sor site. And Sas, you are so right about basic skills before things like Estudio Brillante. I mean, Estudio Brillante is basically just "arpeggios" and chord forms: piece of cake, right? :D What the heck is so hard about it? The answer is the same answer as it is for so many bits of music and for everything else in art: the difficulty lies not the execution of the instructions (the notes on the page) but in the transformation of those instructions into the act of creating beauty. Even Monk refered to his music in terms of beauty, and in some sense-- and in sometimes a twisted sense-- beauty is always the goal.

check out some comedy I've done:

http://louhasspoken.tumblr.com/

My Unitarian Jihad Name: Brother Broadsword of Enlightened Compassion.

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A little off topic but an here is an interesting quote I heard last week. It was a promo spot for the NFL, showing a guy catching a touchdown pass. The quote was "An amatuer practices till they get it right, a pro practices till they can't get it wrong".

 

I think this applies to classical guitar as well. I am definately an amatuer, I can over a period of years get to a point where I can play a song halfway decent, and record it if I can fix things. I could never really perform professionally, I make too many mistakes. I just don't have the dedication to practice 6 hours a day, or to play the same song more than once or twice a day. Most world class players probably can play their songs backwards, and rarely make mistakes or get lost.

 

I am not saying that all it takes to be a world class guitarist is to be able to play without mistakes, but audiences expect pristine performances as well as some type of unique individual style. I have heard some famous players get lost or make small mistakes, but they know the material so well they recover seemlesly, and most people don't even notice the mistake. Anyway, I just loved that quote from the NFL and have been dying for a chance to use it on this forum hehe.

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As pointed out somewhere, playing classical guitar is not necessarily any more difficult than other styles of playing, it's possible to go at your own pace and adjust your level of skill as required.For those who already play in other styles, there may be some resistance to altering what they already know as far as posture and hand position, and...yes... the dreaded footstool etc are concerned. But once that resistance to a different concept of playing is overcome, playing classical style is within any guitarists reach.

As the author of this thread made it clear that the purpose is to encourage players who are new to classical guitar, lets not put them off by making it sound too complicated. Here's an idea...how 'bout we all - for the duration of this thread at least - take the tuxedos off? :)

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Classical is just as complicated as electric or so i find. it all depends the piece you want to learn and how much time you put into it as well as your skill lvl...

 

I, for one, started of learning a bit of classical ' novice ' pieces like for instance, the already mention Romance by anonymus ( or andres de segovia ) was i think my third piece... before that i did ' Romeo and juliet ' and before that the simple version of ' Joyful Joyful We Adore thee ' ( bethoveen ) followed by For Elize ( bethoveen )

 

and i think that all of the pieces i know or at least should know romanza is by far my favorite along with greensleeves... so classical is not any harder than electric.. finger picking is for an electric guitarist as hard to learn as picking is for a classical guitarits ( trust me, i know grrr darned picks. )

 

=) all and all, its just a matter of practice!

I Am But A Solution In Search Of A Problem.
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"An amatuer practices till they get it right, a pro practices till they can't get it wrong".

 

I think this applies to classical guitar as well. I am definately an amatuer, I can over a period of years get to a point where I can play a song halfway decent, and record it if I can fix things. I could never really perform professionally, I make too many mistakes. I just don't have the dedication to practice 6 hours a day, or to play the same song more than once or twice a day.

Good point. I've got the bad habit of being so tired of some pieces by the time I've worked them up to a passable level and memorized them that I just stop playing them rather than polishing them. Then, when I'd like to play them again I have to start memorizing all over or try and play from the score!
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It's true in jazz too - you don't have any business playing "Giant Steps" at tempo if you can't play strong simple blues or rhythm changes!

 

And then there's the patience factor in pop music, too, if you want to have polished arrangements. As I'm finding out trying to get a coffeehouse project together!

 

We may end up doing an occasional unaccompanied guitar solo or jazz tune, and nothing gets you humble faster than realizing you are actually going to perform the tune onstage in the near future! Even if it's not a sophisticated audience, they can tell you if really butcher something! (Reminding of that old Beatles album cover....)

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That is an excellent quote, I'm stealing it.

 

I agree classical isn't in and of it self "harder" than anything else, but just like everything else it adds to your playing something other things can't. Blues will add it's one thing, spending a similar amount of time with jazz standards or modal jazz stuff will impart it's influence on you too. No one is better or worse than the other, each has it's own value.

 

On that Giuliani site, I haven't gone through all of it but some are not exactly joys to read, but some surprised me and look good. Regardless, they are free and so much of it is great music either for learning or for performing. The Opus 48 reads very nicely from that site. Opus 48 has some great studies, no 1 sounds really nice (though I dont' know how instructive it is as it doesn't really stay with one thing very long, but the music good), no 2 is a good "finger knots" study I played in college but haven't since them but I liked it a lot, no 5 is a great "arpeggio" study and a real "standard", if that one is tough there is a later one in A (no 12) that is easier. The scale run study in D (no 11) is also nice. No 15 is nice but I never played it very much, No 17 I used to play a lot.

 

Opus 50 has a lot of nice little tunes in it, nos 1 and 3, 6. 7, 9, 10, 12, 13 (especially), and 26 I remember doing. Those were like the first things I learned on classical guitar.

 

Opus 51 number 15 is really nice, but I think that is the only one I've played from that.

 

Opus 100 number 12 is a lot of fun to play.

 

I love so much of his music.

check out some comedy I've done:

http://louhasspoken.tumblr.com/

My Unitarian Jihad Name: Brother Broadsword of Enlightened Compassion.

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Originally posted by Braxat:

I, for one, started of learning a bit of classical ' novice ' pieces like for instance, the already mention Romance by anonymus ( or andres de segovia ) was i think my third piece... before that i did ' Romeo and juliet ' and before that the simple version of ' Joyful Joyful We Adore thee ' ( bethoveen ) followed by For Elize ( bethoveen )

Funny you should mention that.

 

My first (and only, really) exposure to classial guitar was a piece by Bach that was offered by my 12th grade Guitar teacher as an alternative to a written exam to pass the class.

 

Don't remember the name, although I remember still most of the fingering like it was yesterday... suffice to say I passed with this piece, although I butchered it terribly...

 

In A minor, starting at the low A string:

ABCDEF G#FEDCB C-E-A D-G#-B (8ve) ABCDEF G#FEDCB CABCDE (F)EDCBA BGABCD (E)DCBAG (I forget the rest, but you classical guys will probably know it as it sits...)

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Guys,

 

1. Ah, the Giuliani studies! I love those. As annoying as they are.

 

2. I have no fingernails. Is this a HUGE problem for classical guitar? I have a bad habit of biting my fingernails, so there is no way to fix this. Do I say no to classical guitar (I've dabbled a bit, but not extensively) or do it my own way?

Shut up and play.
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Revo--

 

Look into your heart, and follow what it tells you. Just kidding..

 

Now seriously: yeah man, only YOU can decide. Do you like the projection and articulate tone of fingernails? Remember you don't have to have them grow too long--you'll always be playing w/ your flesh, though.

 

Do you prefer the sweeter sound of your fingertips?

 

It's a matter of musical/tone taste, your musical needs, and the feel you prefer.

 

Fernando Sor (Sors) played w/ his fingertips and hated the fingernail sound. His good friend Dionisio Aguado advocated the use of fingernails. Francisco (Francesc) Tárrega used his flesh, too, and his fans and pupils criticized Andrés Segovia, Regino Sáinz de la Maza and others for using fingernails.

 

I started playing at 15, and I did bite my nails every once in a while. I grew out of it. It's an easy habit to break--unlike illegal drugs, coffee, or eating too much junk and/or fast food. Also, you can use disgustingly-tasting enamels on your nails, designed precisely to "train" you not to bite your nails--and probably give you throat or stomach cancer, too :P .

"Without music, life would be a mistake."

--from 'Beyond Good and Evil', by Friedrich Nietzsche

 

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Hehe Revolead, I used to bite my fingernails down to my wrist. I still can't grow normal nails as they don't extend to the fingertip like most peoples. But it was easy to stop biting them once I realized I wanted to learn classical guitar. I will still chew on my right hand nails, football games are the worst, but I haven't bitten off my playing nails since I started 20 some years ago. I went cold turkey and I am still tempted time and again to chew on my nails but now that playing is a big part of my life, its pretty easy to stop myself.

 

You don't have to grow nails to play classical. There was a big debate 100 years ago about which sounded better, fingers or nails. I think nails won out but that doesn't mean fingers are out of the question. But technique is much easier with nails. The volume and tone of all the major players is made by nails. This would give you an opportunity to break the habit, give growing your nails a try. If you stick with classical I think you will be glad you tried.

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It's an easy habit to break--unlike illegal drugs, coffee, or eating too much junk and/or fast food.
Hell no, it's not! Not for me, anyway. I think its gross every time I do it, and yet, I still do it. I don't know why I cannot stop, but for I'm hoping one day I'll wake up and say to myself: okay, it's time to quit.

 

Gruupi,

 

I still try every now and then. But with school I have little time anymore to genuinely pratice. I work 30 hours a week and go to school 3 days a week, so it's hard to find time for anything, much less classical guitar. On that note, this summer, I practiced hybrid pick/fingerstyle guitar a lot, and it has yielded some great results. I suppose I just need time.

Shut up and play.
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I know what you mean Revolead, it is exteremely hard to break the habit. I started at a real young age and din't stop till I was 25. I had dabbled in classical a few times but didn't really pursue it much because I didn't like the music all that much. When I finally "got" Bach, it changed my perspective and I realized I wanted to play classical guitar really bad. I tried playing with fingers but it just didn't really work out. I just woke up one morning and said I would never bite my playing nails again. I allowed myself to chew on my pinky left hand nail if I was really nervous, and a couple of times I chewed on but didn't bite them off. I still have the habit of pressing my nails against my teeth but not enough to even nick them.

I guess if you want something bad enough its easy to make changes. Its like any other addiction, it can be beat. Its like when Miles Davis decided that he couldn't achieve his musical goals while addicted to heroin, he just gave it up. Nail biting probably isn't as addicting as heroin, but its not just something that goes away. If I hadn't had strong motivation I would have chewed down to my elbow by now.

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Originally posted by MILLO:

Revo--

 

Now seriously: yeah man, only YOU can decide. Do you like the protein and articulate flavor of fingernails? Remember you don't have to have them grow too long--you'll always be eating them w/ your flesh, though.

 

Do you prefer the sweeter taste of your fingertips?

 

It's a matter of culinary preference, your dietary needs, and the fiber you prefer

Just another way of looking at it... :freak::D

 

Brought to you by the Misquote King! :thu:

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