Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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mac1012

Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by mac1012 » Sat Aug 13, 2016 9:29 am

Hi I am just looking for some advice on my progress and learning note positions.

I think taking into account time spent away with work etc I have probably been learning about three weeks.

I am enjoying learning the classical guitar and I am making some progress , at the moment I am learning the C scale in first position and a basic version of green sleeves which I f I played on my flute would probably take me ten minutes to learn.

I am finding myself pausing as my brain processes where my left and right hand fingers go next , I experienced this when I learned piano but find it hard going at times on CG , I can play the C scale up and down fairly fluently its more when I am sight reading and going to different notes in a piece of music that I start pausing and sometimes have to work out where my left fingers go and have to "set" my fingers.

Is this common when you start learning and hopefully get more fluent and better at sight reading as time goes on ?

many thanks Mark.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:48 am

Hi Mark. Three weeks! - may be an eternity in politics, but next to nothing in terms of instrument learning.

My guess is that precisely because you already have experience reading on flute and piano, this is colouring your expectations for guitar. You have the advantage that you know the treble clef well already, but my experience is that often good readers of other instruments take longer than they expect to 'get' how it works on guitar, not least because unlike piano at least, its not exactly a linear, logical instrument.

As an adult, you have the advantage of being reflective of your own mental processes, so I suggest you integrate your experience, your expectations, and put them into a perspective. In short, yes what you are experiencing is very normal, the weird features of the guitar will start to seem logical in time.
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mac1012

Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by mac1012 » Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:59 am

Thanks for reply Stephen , what you say is correct as the guitar does seem a bit all over the place lol , although with the C and G scales I have been learning there does seem to be a kind of pattern. I think its not so much knowing where the notes are its more that my left hand fingers sometimes don't always hit the right string as I sometimes have to feel my way so to speak. I know where the note is in my mind its just my fingers don't hit the spot smoothly but hopefully in time my accuracy will improve !!

I hope I am not trying to make the flute sound easy lol , note location for flute is fairly straight forward but getting a good tone playing scales across the three octaves and relying on the shape of your mouth and air speed for the changing registers and having the flute balanced in your hands with the mouth piece held to your lips at a precise location and having no visual marker to know where the mouth piece is that's where the difficulty lies !! but having thought about it when I first started flute carrying out all the above i have just mentioned was really difficult whereas now it seems second nature.
Last edited by mac1012 on Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:05 am

Yes, also very standard thing to find, I fear! I suggest this kind of thing is partly why its such a good idea to aim to memorise scales, then you start off watching your fingers closely to make sure they behave, then in due course start to look away, when you have more security. However this does mean practising it quite a lot in a sense of insecurity, as you seem to be finding, but I'd guess you should find it quite quick to to memorise because you already understand the notes, are familiar with the pitches and of course the order of tones and semi-tones.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)
Simon Ambridge 'Hauser' (2018)

fralexis

Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by fralexis » Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:26 am

Mark,

Don't get discouraged. It is hard, no doubt about it. I have been taking weekly lessons for over a year and a half and still am a rank beginner. It takes a long time to learn classical guitar. I had played other instruments before, but none of them are as difficult as guitar! The learning of notes at all positions on the fretboard is intimidating, but with practice and a good dose of stubbornness you will get it. It comes slowly, but it definitely does come.

Alexis

mac1012

Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by mac1012 » Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:40 am

I think I would be classed as a rank beginner lol I doubt after a year and a half you are still at my standard if you are there is something wrong !!

I do enjoy playing my flute but I like the CG for different reasons , one is I can play at unsociable times , two I do find the breathing and posture on the flute physically tiring at times , I know the CG can be challenging but not physically like the flute ... well for not for me anyway. three , well I just like the sound of the CG and its rhythmic nature and its a bit more forgiving than the flute 8-)

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Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by lagartija » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:33 pm

I remember very well my frustration when I first started to learn to play guitar. You have an advantage, since I was also learning to read music in addition to where that note was on the fretboard.
From your description, there are two things that seem to be the problem; where is the note on the fretboard , and how do you place your finger accurately when you are not looking.
I had exactly the same problems and as others have said, this is perfectly normal in the beginning. Putting your finger on the wrong string for the note you want to play can be caused by not knowing the proper fret and string for the note, and also (if you are not looking) a change in the position of the guitar. I remember every time I first sat down for a practice session or changed to a different chair, the angle I held the guitar changed slightly and that caused me to miss the string I wanted to fret. The advice that Stephen gave, to memorize the scale and for a while look at where you are placing your fingers, worked for me. Also, to help cement in my mind where the note is on the fretboard, say the note name out loud as I played it. By looking at my fingers, I developed a clear mental picture of what pitch was associated with that position, as well as accurate placement .
I was still occasionally flummoxed by a really different chair height when I made a large shift up the fretboard, and missed my target strings. Until I get "indexed" into guitar in that situation, I still have to look briefly when making a large shift.
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mac1012

Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by mac1012 » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:52 pm

thanks for encouragement , yeah I pretty much know where 75% of the notes are in first position and I am trying to follow the music score and work out where my fingers go , certain notes are dialled in as you call it but some are not ! I was kind of thinking how do you get to the stage with all the different combinations of notes where you can move smoothly but hopefully in time it will become automatic , I remember it being similar when I was learning chords on my acoustic years ago , but there seems to be more muscle memory needed for single notes and combinations !

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Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by celestemcc » Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:14 pm

It *does* become automatic, promise. Just like it did with chords... those first chords are SO difficult, moving one to another, right? and then suddenly one day, you go from G to C to D and back without even thinking, and then suddenly every new chord becomes easy? Same WILL happen with the individual notes. Time and practice. It does get ingrained after a while. Remember also: the guitar is not the easiest instrument! So be kind to yourself, you will get there~
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robert e
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Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by robert e » Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:19 pm

What everyone else said, but also:

Don't neglect arpeggio studies. They train your hands (and mind) in a different way from scales, and are as essential for developing accuracy and precision.

You're right, there are probably as many subtleties to master in the interaction of fingers and strings as there are in the interaction of mouth, breath and mouthpiece. Excuse me for stating the obvious, but having body, arm and guitar neck aligned the same way every time will help enormously, so it's best to get the posture and posture discipline down first.

You don't say whether the score is fingered or if you're trying to read through and find the notes on the fly. The latter is way more difficult on the guitar than many other instruments. To state the obvious again, the traditional approach is, crudely put, to work out the choreography first, then work to make the movements clean, smooth and musical. Even with a simple melody, that can take a beginner a long time. But the next one will come quicker, and the next...

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Paul Janssen
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Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by Paul Janssen » Sun Aug 14, 2016 2:04 pm

Something else to consider in addition to what others have said. I can't think of too many occasions where, as a guitarist, we actually have to be able to sight read. This is perhaps different to what you as woodwind player or pianist may be used to. But in reality, sight reading and guitar playing don't really go hand in hand. With that said, obviously the more proficient we become at reading, the quicker we are able to learn new repertoire. But I doubt we will ever encounter real life situations where we are expected to be able to perform a piece on first sighting. At least that's my experience.

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Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by BugDog » Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:52 pm

It helps if you can be systematic about it. There are lots of method books out there that present the fretboard and the associated notes in a logical and practical way. The Sagreras method available free from this site has gotten good revues. Also be aware that there are some guitar specific notation that'll have to be learned at some point. Again something a method would help with.

At three weeks into the process I think a method book would be the way to go.
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Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:41 pm

Paul Janssen wrote:Something else to consider in addition to what others have said. I can't think of too many occasions where, as a guitarist, we actually have to be able to sight read. This is perhaps different to what you as woodwind player or pianist may be used to. But in reality, sight reading and guitar playing don't really go hand in hand. With that said, obviously the more proficient we become at reading, the quicker we are able to learn new repertoire. But I doubt we will ever encounter real life situations where we are expected to be able to perform a piece on first sighting. At least that's my experience.
Well, anyone involved with an ensemble might, in principle, be asked to read a part at sight in concert; let's say half of guitar 3 is missing, and there are loads of guitar 1s, the obvious thing is to get a couple of them to read the guitar 3 part.

And that's quite apart from the thing of playing say duets with either another guitar or another instrument or voice; they bring along a new piece to a rehearsal and want to try it out ... you sight read it!
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)
Simon Ambridge 'Hauser' (2018)

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Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by Paul Janssen » Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:11 am

Stephen Kenyon wrote:
Paul Janssen wrote:Something else to consider in addition to what others have said. I can't think of too many occasions where, as a guitarist, we actually have to be able to sight read. This is perhaps different to what you as woodwind player or pianist may be used to. But in reality, sight reading and guitar playing don't really go hand in hand. With that said, obviously the more proficient we become at reading, the quicker we are able to learn new repertoire. But I doubt we will ever encounter real life situations where we are expected to be able to perform a piece on first sighting. At least that's my experience.
Well, anyone involved with an ensemble might, in principle, be asked to read a part at sight in concert; let's say half of guitar 3 is missing, and there are loads of guitar 1s, the obvious thing is to get a couple of them to read the guitar 3 part.

And that's quite apart from the thing of playing say duets with either another guitar or another instrument or voice; they bring along a new piece to a rehearsal and want to try it out ... you sight read it!
Stephen, you are of course correct. In principal both of these events could occur (more so your second example). And I am certainly not trying to discourage anyone from becoming a proficient reader. I guess I meant for solo performances, it is highly unlikely that a guitarist would ever just get up and play a piece they have never seen or played before in front of an audience. After all there is already so many other things to worry about, why would anyone put themselves under this added pressure?

Serdar Basaran

Re: Advice on learning notes and becoming fluent

Post by Serdar Basaran » Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:41 am

I agree with the suggestion following a method book, to make sure things are in an experienced/tested order of development.
That might depend of the individual, I have to admit, that is me at least.. I feel more secure following a method and feeling the progress associated with the book.

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