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.
The schedule of a student in the third year:
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 15 minutes to repeating each difficult passage 6 to 12 times. I'll indicate these difficult passages to you by highlighting them in yellow.
3 days when you can devote 40 minutes to studying the guitar, made up of
- 15 minutes practicing the difficult passages (highlighted in yellow),
- 15 minutes repeating the individual phrases (indicated by phrase marks) several times in succession (3 to 6 times)
- and finally 10 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, 2 hours 45 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 40 minutes
Tuesday 15 minutes
Wednesday 40 minutes
Thursday 15 minutes
Friday 40 minutes
Saturday 15 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.
To begin the course we will firstly look at, or relook at, 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) 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.
D01 p26 n1 - Delcamp Polyphonie - Apoyando
D01 p26 n2 - Delcamp Polyphonie - Apoyando
D01 p58 n15 Buté - Apoyando - Rest stroke
D01 p58 n16 Buté - Apoyando - Rest stroke
Once done, we will continue studying an exercise and 4 pieces, among the simplest in the volume D03.
- Page 86 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.
D03 p86 n1 - STRING DAMPING
D03 p86 n2 - STRING DAMPING
D03 p86 n3 - STRING DAMPING
D03 p86 n4 - STRING DAMPING
D03 p86 n5 - STRING DAMPING
- Page 5 Giorgio MAINERIO (1535-1582) SCHIARAZULA MARAZULA
This piece is a passemeze that uses two chords, those of A minor and G major. GWIN AR C'HALLAOUED in volume D03 is based on the same chords. Also in volume D03, BRIAN BORU'S MARCH is similarly based on these two chords.
The bass accompaniment is so simple and functional that I recommend it as a model for anyone who wants to begin working on improvisation.
To start work on improvisation, play the following bass part :
| A E | A E | A E | A E | G D | A E | G D | A E |
and use your free fingers to improvise over a melody over it.
First improvise a melody over the bass made up of whole notes (semibreves). When you've mastered the improvisation of a melody composed of whole notes, start using quarter notes (crotchets), which is more difficult. Finally improvise over the bass a melody made up of whole notes, quarter notes and eighth notes (quavers). We will not go any further in this third year course.
D03 p5 Giorgio MAINERIO - Schiarazula marazula
D03 p5 Improvisation 1 - Passemeze
D03 p5 Improvisation 2 - Passemeze
D03 p5 Improvisation 3 - Passemeze
- Page 9 Guillaume MORLAYE (1510?-1558?) GAILLARDE
Here William Morlaye constantly plays on the ambivalence in the pattern of accented beats. The rhythm is based at the same time on two measures in 3/8 time (ie 2 strong beats for a total of 6 eighth notes) and also on one long measure in 3/4 time (ie 3 strong beats for a total of 6 eighth notes). This practice, already common in the Renaissance, has been in constant use by composers right up to our own time. These changes in the rhythm are called hemiola. A hemiola refers to the insertion of a triple rhythm into a duple rhythm, or vice versa.
D03 p9 Guillaume MORLAYE - Gaillarde
- Page 45 Ferdinand CARULLI (1770-1841) ARPEGGI
Two simple pieces, perfect for an introduction to arpeggios. In these arpeggios, only your fingers move, be sure to keep your right hand in the same position.
D03 p45 Ferdinand CARULLI - Arpeggi di 3 note
D03 p45 Ferdinand CARULLI - Arpeggi di 4 note
- page 63 Mattéo CARCASSI (1792-1853) ANDANTINO opus 59
This andantino is a small masterpiece of brevity. For my part, I damp the resonance of the bass strings and I suggest you do the same. To damp the resonances, I rest my thumb on the string when I play with the index finger and I rest my index finger on the string when I play with the thumb, as in this video example.
D03 p63 exercice andantino
D03 p63 Mattéo CARCASSI -andantino opus 59
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 26 du volume D01 : Jean-François DELCAMP (1956) POLYPHONIE - Apoyando
- page 45 Ferdinand CARULLI (1770-1841) ARPEGGI
- page 5 Giorgio MAINERIO (1535-1582) SCHIARAZULA MARAZULA
You can download the scores of the course here: Scores for classical guitar - D01, D02, D03
Je remercie Geoff (GeoffB), Dan (dng) et flameproof, qui ont aide à la traduction de mes cours en anglais.