In the classical guitar world, there seems to be a lot outdated instructional advice. And while this type of information can be helpful for some, the road to technical and music fluency can be traveled much quicker when you are supplied with modern technical ideas combined with scientific thought.
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Taking a nod from modern teaching techniques and new approaches, you'll learn all of the tools you need to build your classical chops from the ground up.Begin the Course
In the classical guitar world, there seems to be a lot outdated instructional advice. And while this type of information can be helpful for some, the road to technical and music fluency can be traveled much quicker when you are supplied with modern technical ideas combined with scientific thought. Evan Taucher introduces us to to some of the tools he'll be using in his course that helped him build his chops from the ground up.
Before we play any notes, let's get back to the basics of just sitting with the guitar and exploring proper body alignment. While it's tempting to skip this section, it's important to know that even Evan revisits these concepts periodically throughout his career, and it almost always results in a breakthrough after reconsidering this information!
Aligning your right hand might be the most important part of setting up your playing position when starting classical guitar, especially if you’re coming from playing another style of guitar playing. Preparing your fingers is essential to making sure you develop a consistent and accurate movement and sound on the guitar.
Nails are the way that classical guitarists make a louder and more clear and accurate sound. That being said, it is actually possible to play without them, but with using nails, you also learn to use the flesh of your fingers in conjunction with the use of nails. Having nails can only add possibilities. It’s important to understand that people’s nails come in all sizes, shapes, and strengths. And not just nails, but how the tips of our fingers are shaped . In this lesson, Evan is going to show you his method of shaping nails that helps you determine what shape might be right for you.
Now, lets talk about some perspectives about sound and our instrument. Perhaps the three most important characteristics of a good sound are consistency, the direction the string is pushed, and the release of the string. Of course in many ways, tone is a personal preference, and in this lesson, we get get a close up look of Evan's preferences!
The rest stroke is a critical part of plucking hand technique, as well as a key component of the sound we get from our instrument. Evan shows us what a rest stroke is, and how to execute it properly.
Free stroke is when a plucking hand finger is free from any obligation of resting on the next string. After releasing the string, it floats back into position without touching other strings. Since we often play complex pieces involving lines running simultaneuously on several strings, we must be able to play melodies without involing any other strings than the one we’re playing on.
You can think of the idea of not alternating fingers as trying to walk down the street while just using your left foot. It’s impractical. That being said, walking takes us quite a while to learn as children, and we all fell down a lot! And it takes a lot longer before we can run. The sky is the limit when it comes to speed, but contrary to popular belief, its not so much about how fast you can move your fingers, but about establishing a fast reflex and controlling how far you let your fingers move through the string and the distance to which they release to.
Not releasing tension, or not quickly relasing tension after plucking in the right hand may be one of the most common limiting factors guitarists have. Holding tension creates all sorts of problems musically and technically. You can bump into other strings by accident, you make larger, inefficient motions, and this leads to a technical limitation. When you relax quickly, you pluck again quickly. Fortunately, this is something easily trained, and you will notice the results everywhere!
Now we come to our first etude. This etude encompasses all the concepts and techniques we've talked about so far in the series. Evan teaches the etude, and gives advice on how to approach the more difficult sections.
The right hand thumb can be used for a variety of tasks - it’s definitely the most versitle of the right hand fingers. It’s mostly used for bass lines, but is also used to play parts of chords, full chords and also melodies. We must train the thumb to do quite a few tasks!
In this etude it’s important to make a musical line out of the repeating thumb strokes. It’s all too common to just pluck away with no musical thought in the bass line. Since we are using very few other right hand fingers, we should be able to focus on creating a beautiful line with just our p (thumb) finger. After all, that's the bass line! If it's practiced diligently now, your ear and mind will be focused on this for years to come!
Guitar, from its origins was and is all about patterns - in the left and the right hands. It’s quite a unique instrument in that way. That being said, there are a few patterns we need to master by practicing them every day. In this lesson, you’ll see how practice of these patterns pays off quickly as they are used in the example piece and all throughout the classical guitar repertoire.
In this etude you have a mixture of some of the arpeggio exercises that we practiced in the previous lesson. This etude is quite beautiful and should prove to be a great way to practice these patterns in the context of music and reap the fruits of your labor! Of course, they aren’t exactly the same patterns, but the skills that you built from careful practice of the previous exercise will lead you to play this a lot more smoothly!
Now that we’re getting a bit more complex with adding the left hand into the mix, it’s important to talk about some of the fundamentals of this hand. These concepts are fairly intuitive, but are shockingly overlooked by most teachers and self-learners. This is an effective way of learning how the pressure that is applied to the strings should be distributed. Let gravity do the work and not just your muscles!
It’s time to start developing some good habits regarding where we place our fingers. On the guitar, we unfortunately have to be very careful about how we place our fingers due to the strings being so close together. Let's join Evan as he gives us all the pertinent information about left hand finger placement.
One of the most valuable ways to train our plucking hand to be efficient is by practicing preparing our fingers on the strings before plucking the string. What this does, is it elimates any excess movements between right hand strokes. It’s important to do this exercise extremely slow to make sure you are preparing your fingers as fast as possible!
Now Evan is going to teach you one of his favorite pieces by M. Carcassi. This is a particularly useful piece because it combines and rapidly alternates between repeated notes and arpeggios. Working on this will ensure that you develop both your repeated notes and your arpeggios at the same level.
One of our biggest struggles as classical guitarists is balancing the voices. Imagine a piano, it’s pretty easy to make the left hand louder than the right or vice-versa. But on the guitar, That balance all has to happen in our right hand. Therefore, we must practice bringing out specific notes in a block chord, so that you are able to account for any situation!
In an ideal world, we would only have to cross the strings in the easiest way, where our natural hand position compliments the way we move from one string to another. However, in reality, we always have tricky passages where not-ideal string crossings are necessary. Here are several exercises we can practice to make us experts at all forms of string crossings.
Quality Slurs (hammer-ons and pull offs) are an essentail skill for guitarists to develop in order to play legato. The most common problem with slurs is uneveness. So, when we begin to play fast, it sounds off rhythmically. The way to remedy this is to practice with a metronome starting very slowly!
In general, we can think of descending slurs as a left hand rest stroke through the string. However, we don’t stay resting on the next string, we just touch it and go. It’s a sort-of snapping motion. If you’re an electric guitar player, this will likely be a fresh concept for you. With electric guitar, sustain is so long that we don’t often have to snap off the string like we do on classical. The snapping motion is essential for a long sustain and an equal quality sound compared to the articulation.
This subject is something guitarists obsess over. We play an instrument that is unusually difficult to play scales on. Scales are all about the perfect coordination between your left and right hand. Many other instruments rely on far less variables. The saxophone, or any wind instrument, you just keep your breath going, and move your fingers. On the guitar, we must coordinate our left and right hands perfectly to even produce a note
We might have heard the advice that practicing scales in bursts is a good idea, but we lightly grasp the concept. Why is this a good idea? Because we can only begin to imagine being able to play fast and build that facility if we can at first play a burst fast. And what does playing a burst fast mean? Coordinating our left and right hands perfectly.
“Buzzing” is a fantastic way to measure how much pressure you’re applying in your pieces, and it’s a great exercise for mindful practice. Most of the time as guitarists, we’re oversqueezing especially in the early stages of playing. Some, their whole career without special attention. Oversqueezing is a huge limiter in developing speed and control, and leads to fatiguing quickly when performing.
How your fingers traverse the fingerboard vertically is directly related to how smooth and legato you are able to play. It sounds too simple, but the grace that you have when moving from note to note is imperative to connecting lines, especially when you have several lines at once. You may be able to connect a single melody very well, but what happens when you involve other fingers? Let’s find out!
The mythical tremolo! As they say, tremolo encapsulates most guitar technique. If you have good arpeggios and scales, you’ll likely have good tremolo technique in no time. Tremolo is all about right hand coordination and control. One of the biggest problems people have in tremolo is with the timing and preparation of the thumb. This lesson attempts to solve that!
Now let's take a look at rasgueados, which is when you flick the strings from the opposite direction than usual. It creates a percussive and aggressive sound. Even if we're not flamenco guitarists, us classical guitarists can benefit greatly from practicing these!
AMI scales are trending once again - about 20 years ago, it was much more rare to incorporate these. Essentially, it’s a way to play faster without increasing your i-m speed. It does come with some HUGE difficulties, though. Join Evan as he examines these difficulties and helps us get over these hurdles!
In this lesson, Evan gives us some practical advice for overcoming performance anxiety, something that he himself has struggled with in the past. The key is to have a performance mindset when you're practicing!
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I appreciate how he clarifies and gives information to you. The method of taking small steps so you remember important concepts is in my opinion the best way to learn. A strong foundation is crucial.
The teacher and the whole program to this point are spot on for my level of expertise with a classical guitar. Looking forward to the rest of the program.
Very good addition to the classical Guitar Style, I love to see more courses from Pamela , Voris and Evan. on the classical style. thank you Jamplay. Congratulations.
Very good teacher with clear explanations.