We are going to talk about the minimum time you need to devote to the study of the guitar, about the position for holding the guitar, and finally about some techniques, exercises and pieces.
Timetable for the fourth year student:
In order to progress, you need a little time each day for 6 days of the week. Here is the minimum necessary for players of this level :
3 days when you can devote 20 minutes to repeating each difficult passage 9 to 16 times. I'll indicate these difficult passages to you by putting a box (a rectangular border) around them.
3 days when you can devote 50 minutes to studying the guitar, made up of
- 20 minutes practicing the difficult (boxed) passages,
- 15 minutes repeating the individual phrases several times in succession (3 to 6 times)
- and finally 15 minutes playing the piece or pieces in full.
Note that you must play for 6 days of the week. If you combine all this time into one day, that is to say, 3 hours 30 minutes in a single day, you will not make progress and furthermore you will risk injuring yourself by making demands on certain muscles for too long. Divide up your practice and play a little each day.
Spend most of your practice time on the parts you have trouble playing: difficult passages, difficult phrases. Only play pieces the whole way through once or twice a week.
So we understand one another properly, here is an example of a timetable where sessions alternate between 15 and 40 minutes:
Monday 50 minutes
Tuesday 20 minutes
Wednesday 50 minutes
Thursday 20 minutes
Friday 50 minutes
Saturday 20 minutes
The position for the classical guitar is the product of past experience. The classical position enables us to reduce effort to a minimum, and has arisen from a compromise between the needs for stability, comfort and the efficient use of both hands.
The principles of this position are:
sitting position, back straight, shoulders level,
the guitar rests on whichever thigh is on the neck side.
We raise the head of the guitar level with our head, with the aid of a footstool or of a support placed on the thigh.
The hand which plays the strings is placed over the sound hole, the elbow rests on the edge of the body of the guitar, level with the bridge.
The arm on the neck side is bent to bring the hand up to the height of the shoulder, the thumb is placed behind the neck, beneath the second fret and behind the third string, the fingers are over the strings.
Try to achieve relaxation, from the shoulders right down to the hands.
Finally, choose a chair of a height that allows your thigh to be horizontal, so that your guitar will be supported in a
stable manner. If your thigh is angled in one direction or the other, your guitar will slip and interfere with your playing.
Let us start with a little exercise to warm up the hands:
bend the fingers several times from the first (large) joint
bend them at the middle joint
bend at the middle joint until the fingertips touch the palm, then (maintaining contact with the palm) draw the fingertips as far up as possible before stretching the fingers out again.
Slide the thumb along the length of each of the four fingers in turn
Slide each of the four fingers in turn along the thumb.
Next we will look at, or revise, pages 26 and 58 of volume D01
- page 26 of volume D01 : Jean-François DELCAMP (1956) POLYPHONIE - Apoyando
- page 58 of volume D01 : Jean-François DELCAMP (1956) BUTÉ - APOYANDO - REST STROKE - APOYANDO
These exercises will work upon the technique of simultaneous rest strokes (apoyando) with the thumb and index finger, and also with the thumb and middle finger.
The rest stroke is a way to play the string with a finger movement which plucks the string and then continues to move until it comes to rest on the adjacent string. Working on this technique will allow you to discover the best position for your plucking hand (the right hand if you are right-handed).
If you are already used to plucking the strings with free strokes, the simultaneous rest strokes with the thumb and a finger will seem difficult to you, even impossible. But be assured, with patience and perseverence, this difficulty will be resolved in 30 minutes. I know from experience that the first tries are truly discouraging, particularly for adults. It is for this reason that I wish to reassure you in advance, take heart, you will be able to do it.
Let us now look at some exercises from volume D04.
- Page 126 Jean-François DELCAMP (1956) STRING DAMPING
These techniques are essential in polyphonic playing. Guitar playing is unique in that we must stop the resonances, in particular those of the open strings. Without these string damping techniques, polyphony is blurred by dissonance.
Finally, we'll look at 4 pieces, pages 65, 87, 91 and 102.
- page 65 Giuliani, Mauro Allegro opus 50 n°13
In these arpeggios, be careful to maintain the stability of your right hand. The right-hand fingering is typical of arpeggios in that the "a" finger plays the first string, the "m" finger plays the second, the "i" finger plays the third, and the thumb plays the 3 bass strings. In this piece, the melody is in the bass.
- page 91 Tárrega, Francisco Estudio ostinato, en la mayor
To bring out the two voices in this little piece, play legato for the melody in the bass, and staccato for the repeated phrase (ostinato) in semiquavers (16th notes).
- page 102 Foret, Stéphanie Bretonneuse
Bars 17, 18, 21 and 22: the small quavers (8th notes) with a line through them are acciaccaturas http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory23.htm#grace . Here the acciaccaturas are played by sliding rapidly with the finger indicated from the small note to the normal-sized note. The line linking the two notes represents this slide.
You will see that each phrase consists of a total of 8 measures. The bass line is made up of two notes: A (the dominant) and D (the tonic). Bretonneuse is in the Dorian mode. Vary the tone used so that you never play two phrases in succession with the same tone.
I ask you first to work on all these exercises and pieces for one week and then to post your recordings on the forum for:
- page 58 (D01) : Jean-François DELCAMP (1956) BUTÉ - APOYANDO - REST STROKE - APOYANDO
- page 126 (D04) Delcamp, Jean-François Terminer - Fermare - Damp – Apagar
- page 91 (D04) Tárrega, Francisco Estudio ostinato, en la mayor
- page 102 (D04) Foret, Stéphanie Bretonneuse
I thank Geoff (GeoffB) who has helped in the translation of my lessons into English.
Exam qualifying submissions:
BUTÉ - APOYANDO - REST STROKE - APOYANDO
Terminer - Fermare - Damp – Apagar
Estudio ostinato, en la mayor
Hello! I am very excited about this year's class. There are some really beautiful pieces in this year's book.
I am looking forward to seeing some familiar faces from last year's D03 lessons as well as meeting some new people.
I decided to go ahead and submit my progress on this lesson's pieces and exercises even though some need some work. The Estudio Ostinato by Tarrega was a bit challenging for me because I need to develop more strength in my right hand, little finger. I am not quite able to do the big stretch in measure 5 but am working on that too. This exercise is definitely good for that. I will keep working on it and will hopefully produce an improved version before lesson 2 starts I am still working on control will executing the slide while playng the Bretonneuse by Stephanie Foret. The damping technique is still something that I have not mastered, so the exercises are useful for me. I should probably continue to practice these beyond this lesson.
Here are my 1st take submissions for lesson 1. Any suggestions or tips for improvement are appreciated.
Thanks so much!
Welcome to the class!
for being the first one to post!
Good job on the slide. Nice tempo and clearly played. Did you intend to play the chords at the beginning with a broken strum?
I'm not sure if that's the correct term. I will look at Professor Delcamp's version again. It's not something I had noticed while learning this piece.
Your control of the tone sounds excellent. You executed the staccato vs. legato technique nicely. This is something I need to work on. The piece is meant to be repeated, which I'm sure you already know.
Nice recording quality both in audio and video. Putting my crappy laptop work to shame!
Your separation of melody from the harmony was really pronounced in the Foret piece-better than mine. Congrats. Don't rush the slides so much. You'd be surprised at how much you can make the slide sound without losing time.
You pointed out not letting the lower voice ring in the Tarrega study so I know you're well aware-but I'm also sure you know that's the main focus of the study as it's a pretty boring little thing otherwise. I was experiencing the same difficulty. The fix (for me, anyway) was a simple one-I was pressing WAY too hard with my left hand to try and sustain the half notes. As is usually the case, a good technique will go a lot farther than some extra muscle. Try that?
I can't comment much on the drills. I haven't done them on account of an error on my part. I didn't print them like I did the pieces I've posted. I'm doing lessons for the first time on my laptop which runs Windows 8. While recording the camera 'app' is always fullscreen. I can't view the PDFs! Again... During a few of yours however I'd like that mic not blocking your RH. I try to always have both of my hands in frame for these lessons, as we're getting to the level where advice is often keying on visual clues as often as audio. In fact-I'm wondering if there's a RH issue that seems to make your high E a lot louder than other strings (in general, not just the exercises).
As for your feedback. Embarrassed face number three! I totally missed the Tarrega repeat! I'll fix it soon. Blame it on the cold medicine I'm taking?? The strumming of the chords I think came from the fact that the Foret sounds very much like a Renaissance piece to me-which would make that style-appropriate. However, since I see a 2006 on the score I think I'm off by a few hundred years. Similarly, Mr DelCamp plays block chords. I'll work on that change as well.
Thanks for listening! It's usually so hard to post things after just one week!
Postby Catherine Livingston » Fri Sep 26, 2014 4:05 am
Thanks so much for the suggestions! They are very helpful. It is hard to post after just one week. I never feel ready by then. I think it's best though because I haven't memorized the pieces by then and the mistakes can be more easily unlearned. The Tarrega study will be my main focus over the next couple of weeks. I definitely have to do some strengthening exercises for my left hand. I need to practice the right hand technique too. I'll also work on those slides on the Foret Piece I thought your submissions sounded great after 1 week.
Nice to see you all again after the long break. Especially for Mark, I haven't seen you before so welcome to the forum.
I haven't got a chance to record my practice but actually I have started for a week. Hopefully I can post my recording in the next few days.
The start of this class is really not an easy one, especially with that stretch exercise. It's really painful to learn. I'd like to know how everyone overcome this difficulties.
I can see some confidence in your practice, I bet you've been playing for awhile.
Your Bretonneuse sounds good, but if I have to comment, you might want to maintain your tempo in terms of consistency. I notice that your tempo gets faster on bar16. You can also work on the damping if you pleased.
As for ostinato, beside what Cat's has mentioned, it is fluid and it sounds good too. It seems to me that you can stretch your fingers without so much efforts.
It is nice to see you again.
Take your time with ostinato, don't force when you feel pain. Give it a rest 2 or 3 mins and start again, you could it. You can also try to put capo on fret 2 or 3 - that's how I approach it.
Your Bretonneuse sounds good and you are playing it quite fast too.
ps: I notice that you are not following the fingering advice. I don't know about you but I think the advice makes sense to me.
I'm so glad you are continuing with DO4 this year! Thanks so much for the feedback
Yes, I am practicing the Ostinato daily and hopefully it's improving. I think my strength is
slowly building but the stretch is still difficult. I purchased a used guitar recently and the action
is higher +the neck is a bit thicker which adds to the challenge. I like the tone though. It's
a Kenny Hill Player with a cedar top. Taking breaks is a good idea. I don't want
to injure myself this early in the year. Which piece did I
not follow the fingering advice? Was it Bretonneuse? I will take a closer look. I tend to
sort of memorize things and can get off track. I'm looking forward to hearing the submissions
from you and the others in the next week or two.
Cat it looks like you're making the same fingering alteration that I do. That is, we play the F spanning measures 9-10 with our index/1 finger rather than the indicated 2/middle finger. Playing the F with 2 seems to require an unnecessary turn of the wrist and also makes playing the C at the start of measure 10 a bit trickier. This also means that when the F is returned to in measure 10 it its played with a mini two string barre across the E and B strings.
yes, I was talking about Bretonneuse.
In my opinion, the half tone G (since the beginning) is played with 3 instead of 2 so that you can use 2 for F at bar10. If you notice Mr. Delcamp plants his 1 all the way through the first passage and 3 all the way to bar10. C at bar11 is also half note and it will ring again at bar 12, so you can't release 2. This is also good exercise on LH, you'll know what I'm talking about when you try it.
I'm not saying that you have to strictly follow his way but I think he has purpose. You can also use Mark's approach with mini barre, if you like.