Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

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Gadam

Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by Gadam » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:22 am

I am learning classical guitar from a very good teacher since a few months.

But so far he has been teaching me to read and play one classical piece after the other. I learn a piece, play it and forget it in a month as I keep moving on to newer pieces.

I spoke to him about this and he says 'for our purposes' what we are doing is enough.

I feel like there might be things like 'music theory', the fundamentals, the constructs, the why of what I am playing.

What do others think about this? If there is more I should learn, please suggest what they are and how I can ask my teacher. I am sure he is an accomplished player and will be able to teach me anything.

Thanks!

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George Crocket
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Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by George Crocket » Thu Mar 10, 2016 8:43 am

I am pretty sure that for many players it is enough to learn the technique and musicality required to play, assuming the ability to read notation. Certainly the skills required are complex enough to make progress slow for the average learner. So they will likely want to devote most or all of their time to that, at least in the early years.

Curiosity about music theory may well come to many, especially after some technical facility has been developed, or if there is a background of experience with other instruments. It then becomes a question of how best to learn. Doubtless teachers can let us know if they are equally adept at teaching theory as they are at teaching technique. But no matter how good your teacher is, for most of us understanding music theory requires quite a lot of reading.

For other players, however, music theory is just not for them. Perhaps especially for younger or less experienced players, the subject may seem a dry boring diversion from the joy of playing.
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Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by simonm » Thu Mar 10, 2016 8:46 am

More information needed to make any judgements in my view. Are you using a book or individual pieces of music? Have you discussed sitting position, hand position? Does he write fingerings for the piece of music? Are you playing rest stroke, free stroke? What pieces have you played so far?

p.s. I agree with George that music theory is not everyone's cup of tea so the teacher might only go into depth with it, if asked directly.

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Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by robin loops » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:06 am

By reading a lot of new material and moving on you will strengthen develop your technique and your reading. When both of those things improve, going back over the material you've played so far will be easy and at that time you will be able to play much more than if you'd spent time just 'learning songs' (rather than learning how to read songs and the technique needed to play them). When it starts to come together it is really cool. Be patient.
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Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by kloeten » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:57 am

Indeed more information is required to anwer your question. It may very well be that your teacher has a plan in mind for you but has not fully shared that yet. Would be good to ask him what the longer term plan is. However from your post I understand you are only playing for a couple of months, so it may be very hard to predict how you will develop, and the teacher may want you to focus on what's on your music stand today and simply enjoy.

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Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by riffmeister » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:22 pm

It really helps learning scales, chords, and music theory. But of course the bottom line is the music....the pieces you play.

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Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by Debussychopin » Thu Mar 10, 2016 4:29 pm

I would say if you are learning to sight read , reading and understanding the relation of the sheet music to the fretboard, that should be enough of 'music theory' for now until you get deeper into understanding music.

However, if you are just playing what the tabs say, or just syntactically 'memorizing' where to place your fingers for the piece you are playing (thus forgetting them after working on one piece for month or two) is not efficient way to learn classical guitar or any musical instrument.
You dont want to be in a learning form of just 'reinventing the wheel' each time. Each piece and further into your road you should be getting more understanding of music and how that applies to your next piece and so forth.

Gadam

Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by Gadam » Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:00 pm

riffmeister wrote:It really helps learning scales, chords, and music theory. But of course the bottom line is the music....the pieces you play.
That is what I exactly feel. I am able to play the pieces well after a week's practice, but I have no idea of musically what I am paying (well, i can identify a few chords in the piece) or why we have those elements in the piece. If you do not understand the fundamentals, and basic constructs, how would you later on improvise or interpret or even use the skill to play other songs in classical style?

Gadam

Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by Gadam » Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:15 pm

Some other questions that have been asked:
Are you using a book or individual pieces of music? Individual pieces of music. But he might be getting them off a book.
Have you discussed sitting position, hand position? Yes.
Does he write fingerings for the piece of music? Yes.
Are you playing rest stroke, free stroke? Free stroke. Initially we did some practice lessons for rest vs free stroke.
What pieces have you played so far? I have been playing for around 6 months now. (that is classical guitar only; I have owned a guitar for over 10 years now but nothing academic/professional or serious) Here are some pieces I remember from top of my head: Lessons to identify notes on each string, Ode to Joy, Andante, Andantino, Packington's Pound, Greensleeves, Opus 31 book 1 etc.

Yes I am learning to sight read, and relation of sheet music to fret board.
I don't think the teacher has a long term plan that he is not revealing right now, and I do not know enough to go and ask him 'THIS' is what i would like you to teach. (Im sure this question has been asked before but-- is there a book that can supplement my learning/understanding given the situation I have described?)

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Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by Steve Kutzer » Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:40 pm

The other extreme would be to do nothing but drills, scales, arpeggios and never learn a single piece.

I think either extreme is the poorer choice. But maybe you can add these other items to your practice and let the lessons proceed along the repertoire path.

Only thing I'd suggest is to try to maintain at least the favorites of what you've already learned.
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Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by riffmeister » Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:45 pm

Gadam wrote:
riffmeister wrote:It really helps learning scales, chords, and music theory. But of course the bottom line is the music....the pieces you play.
That is what I exactly feel. I am able to play the pieces well after a week's practice, but I have no idea of musically what I am paying (well, i can identify a few chords in the piece) or why we have those elements in the piece. If you do not understand the fundamentals, and basic constructs, how would you later on improvise or interpret or even use the skill to play other songs in classical style?
How long have you been playing guitar? From my own experience, it took me years of playing to really internalize elements of rhythm, harmony, structure, and how all that plays out on the fretboard in order to improvise effectively.

I would suggest just taking a few pieces and intentionally dissecting them for all of their elements. And as an exercise for honing your fretboard knowledge, play them in completely different positions than how you first learned them, and maybe even in a different octave.

Jeffrey Armbruster

Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:57 pm

Learning this instrument is like eating an elephant: you can't do it in one sitting. Some teachers start at the hoof, others the trunk. Personally, I think that playing a lot of different pieces at the start is a good thing. Every piece poses a new challenge and set of technical problems. A lot of pieces=lots of technical challenges. Plus it's more fun than just doing straight drills, or putting your playing on hold in order to learn theory.

But I'm entirely self-taught and have only been playing for two years or so, so take that into account! I'll defer to more experienced players.

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Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by Moje » Fri Mar 11, 2016 2:34 am

"Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?"
Short answer, your teacher isn't doing anything out of the ordinary. Theory lessons don't come free with CG lessons, it doesn't sound like you're getting shorted.
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Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by JCguitar » Fri Mar 11, 2016 2:48 am

Learning pieces, playing them for a month, and then forgetting them is not a productive way to learn. Once you learn a piece of music you should keep reviewing it and keep drilling it week after week month after month, so that it becomes a part of your permanent repertoire. Your repertoire is the foundation of music and pieces that you draw upon to advance your skills and ultimately move on to the next level. By forgetting pieces you've learned in the past, you're forgetting the foundation that you've already laid out. Additionally, you should learn challenging scales, arpeggios, slurs, and other techniques to supplement the pieces that you're learning, in order to push your technique to the next level up.

By cycling through previously learned repertoire, continually memorizing it and drilling it, plus by emphasizing technical exercises outside of the pieces, you'll be able to press on to the next level of playing in the next level of difficulty. Otherwise, you may be stuck in an endless loop of playing pieces at the same level without really being able to progress or draw upon the foundation of techniques that you previously learned.

Additionally, you should study music theory. This is to help you understand how chords, harmonies, and formal structures of Music are all built. This will allow you to understand the pieces much more quickly and fluidly, and ultimately allow you to learn pieces much more quickly. It seems counterintuitive, but by understanding music theory you will be able to play the guitar better and to learn pieces much more quickly. It's as simple as that...

Jeffrey Armbruster

Re: Is just playing classical pieces enough to learn classical guitar?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Fri Mar 11, 2016 4:03 am

"Once you learn a piece of music you should keep reviewing it and keep drilling it week after week month after month, so that it becomes a part of your permanent repertoire."

The op has been playing for six months. How do you advance if you keep drilling your first studies month after month so that they become a part of your permanent repertoire? His teacher has him moving on to the next piece because he'll learn something new. Month after month of Packington's Pound is likely to make anyone quit at the beginning.

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