Guitar Masterclass Question

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Juanito
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Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by Juanito » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:00 am

I've been playing the classical guitar for two years now, but haven't learned to read musical notation because I was in a hurry to play music (I started at 49 and didn't want to take too long). So I've learned all the pieces I know using guitar tablature. I am currently and slowly learning some fairly involved (for me, at least) pieces like Tarrega's Gran Vals and Capricho Arabe.
As a serious but "under-educated" student of classical guitar, I have one question. Would it be a good idea (or would it be possible at all) for me to someday take a classical guitar masterclass even if I cannot read notation? I would practice my chosen piece for a long time and master it as best I can before I did the masterclass. i would provide a copy of the sheet music along with tablature to the maestro so we can be on the same page when discussing parts of the piece.
My question is theoretical for now...no opportunities yet for guitar masterclasses where I am. But I want to know if I can benefit from a masterclass even if I can't read music. Or would a maestro flat out refuse to teach me because I can't read notation?

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Julian Ward
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by Julian Ward » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:14 am

Hi - no not really. You are picking very advanced music for somebody that has only been playing for two years. That is the problem - tablature encourages you to play pieces beyond your capabilities, hugely missing out on vital development of technique and musical understanding. That is why learning the guitar and reading music together at the very same time is absolutely the best way to do it and this is the same for all instruments. The very best advice I can give you is stop with all the tablature immediately and start with easier pieces, learning to read music. A few years later you will be able to play Grand Vals and Capricho Arabe properly. A good teacher would be your absolute best bet too!
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Juanito
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by Juanito » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:23 am

Thank you for your reply, Julian! Just to clarify, I do study with a teacher now, and specifically requested that we start with tablature so I can learn to play and not lose interest learning to sight read. And I don't necessarily plan to play such difficult pieces -- was just giving some indication of what I am studying now. I can play pieces like Lagrima and Adelita and pieces of that level decently, or so my teacher tells me. Perhaps I should just shorten my question to : can a tablature reader benefit from a guitar masterclass?

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tormodg
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by tormodg » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:29 am

Juanito wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:23 am
can a tablature reader benefit from a guitar masterclass?
Anyone can benefit from a masterclass. But it does depend on what you want to get out of it. It has little to do with your ability to read music. But if you ask, "will I get more out of a masterclass if I can read music", I think my answer would be "YES". :casque:
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astro64
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by astro64 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:50 am

It is normal to provide the instructor with a copy of the score of the music you are playing in the masterclass. I am not sure a score in tab would go over well.

Juanito
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by Juanito » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:46 pm

Thanks for your answers! I really agree with Tormodg above, that a masterclass should have little to do with reading music. At the same time I recognize that notation conveys so much more information than tablature can, and that reading notation can enhance learning so much more. But I'm 51 now and in a hurry to learn how to play music, not how to read notes! :lol: For now I will consider myself a guitar playing lutenist who doesn't play the lute :lol: , stick with learning more pieces that I enjoy via reading tablature, and keep trying to learn notation on the side.

celestemcc
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by celestemcc » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:14 pm

True: master classes aren't about reading music. But now's the time that you learn it. Thing is, most teachers of masterclasses will expect to be given a score in standard notation for them to refer to; for most this is easier in notation than in tab. If you can arrange in advance to play without notation and the teacher is amenable, then go for it. Otherwise, you're playing, so you won't have a terrible time learning to read. It's really not that difficult, and you'll deepen your understanding of what you're already playing. Ultimately it's a necessary skill for a classical guitarist who's serious enough to take master classes.
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:23 pm

One can learn a great deal from a materclass simply through observing others being taught. When a class comes up simply apply to attend as an auditor rather than as a performer.

Meanwhile - and whilst acknowledging your stated reasons for not so doing - I concur strongly with those advising you to learn to read music. Age has very little to do with it. I have directed students in their seventies and older who have all progressed faster and enjoyed more music through engaging with notation.

It's not "easy" but it's certainly not rocket science either - so don't be put off - really, any fool can do it.
Juanito wrote:I really agree with Tormodg above, that a masterclass should have little to do with reading music.
Sorry to disagree Juanito but you're hardly in a position to be able to judge what a masterclass should or should not deal with. As it happens I have performed in masterclasses where my score was indeed presented in tablature - however, the conversation around the work pertained to music theory in just the same way as it would for notation.

Juanito
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by Juanito » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:28 pm

Not disagreeing here Mark -- I have always known that learning to read notation is the best way to know a piece, even as I rely on tablature. In fact, I do rely on the notation above the tablature to at least help me learn the rhythm of a piece I am studying.
But your post above now makes me ask an additional question. I've always thought that a masterclass is a class taught by a virtuoso to a pupil who may or may not be an expert yet but who is at least serious and passionate enough to have signed up for the class and is willing to play in front of others. The purpose of a masterclass is to help the pupil play a particular piece better. Am I wrong?
Does one have to be a music major or have a very deep understanding of music theory to take a masterclass? I don't mean the Julian Bream or Segovia type of masterclasses...that's obviously for musicians of a very high caliber. I'm talking about the guitar society masterclasses given by maestros even to children and to relative beginners in front of, say, their fellow members in a guitar society. Or are the latter not really considered a masterclass? Again, I am not trying to argue. Just trying to learn what it means.

musicbyandy
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by musicbyandy » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:39 pm

Juanito wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:00 am
Would it be a good idea (or would it be possible at all) for me to someday take a classical guitar masterclass even if I cannot read notation?

But I want to know if I can benefit from a masterclass even if I can't read music. Or would a maestro flat out refuse to teach me because I can't read notation?
I think that it would be a good idea for you to someday take a classical guitar masterclass if you cannot read notation.

I think you can benefit form a masterclass even if you can't read music. I don't think a maestro would flat out refuse to teach you because you can't read notation. If you intend to register for a masterclass, I recommend that you contact the maestro in advance of registering and explain that you cannot read notation and ask if the maestro will teach you in masterclass.

Juanito
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by Juanito » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:22 pm

Thank you for your reply, Musicbyandy! When I feel that I have learned a piece of sufficient importance to performance level, I will take your advice and ask the maestro should an opportunity arise.

Jack Douglas
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by Jack Douglas » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:46 pm

You sound like an enthusiastic student and are seeking to improve. Personally, I feel like your teacher is doing you a disservice by either encouraging you to learn such advanced pieces as Capricho Arabe and Grand Vals using TAB. I understand how good it feels to tackle a complex piece, but working on and playing such pieces can lead to hand injuries and missing many basics that are required for you to build a sound foundation.
I was about your age, a couple of years older, when I started learning to play classical guitar and read notation. I signed up for a master class after a year or so and played Carcassi’s Etude in A, one of the very first pieces beginners should take on. The Master Class teacher knew immediately that I was a beginner and met me where I was, then gave me inspiration to try a couple of new ways to interpret/perform the piece. He pushed me to play a short section in a higher position that I could read which inspired me to learn more.
Go for it, but learn notation and choose a piece that you can read in notation and play.
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Juanito
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by Juanito » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:08 pm

Just to clarify, Jack...my guitar teacher, who is classically trained, has been trying to teach me to read music. I am the one in a hurry and who requested that we study in tablature. And I am studying the difficult pieces on my own, bit by bit, just playing with them even as we formally study pieces that are more my level. We do follow a graded curriculum. And yes, I am trying to learn how to read notation. But I also want to play pieces that I want to play. And thanks for your reply!

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lagartija
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by lagartija » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:22 pm

I could not read notation when I decided to take up classical guitar at age 54. I really did not know anything about playing an instrument.

My teacher started me with some pieces that had both notation and tab. (Sanz) Soon, I found that the tab was “getting in the way “ and put pieces of paper over it so I only looked at the notation.
I do not regret at all the time taken to learn standard music notation. It really did not slow me down at all and I was then able to play pieces that were not available in tab.

In a masterclass, I have often been given alternate fingerings for a particular passage by the instructor. Notating that on the score of standard notation was easy; both fingering versions were easily followed side by side and I could try them .
It really did not take long to learn. :-D
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Juanito
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Re: Guitar Masterclass Question

Post by Juanito » Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:26 am

Thank you Lagartija. That's very encouraging -- I will put more effort into learning to read notation, which should make my teacher happy. Or maybe, just for the sake of notoriety, I can start another thread titled "Reading Guitar Music in Tab: A New Perspective" :lol:

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