Please start by downloading the new version of volume D03
that I updated today.
If you are new to the course, please read this
message to familiarize yourself with the conditions for participating in the lessons. You should also read the first message in lesson 1, where you will find advice on how to make the most of your study time and on the methods of practising that I recommend.
Today, we're going to work on a series of exercises.
In these right hand exercises, you will work on getting a smooth join between notes, that is to say that you will end one or more notes at the exact moment that you start the following note (or notes).
- page 102 ex. 51 to 55.
Exercises 51 to 54 are for the fingers of the right hand. The (x) sign indicates that the right hand finger is resting on the string (and damping it). Exercise 55 is for the left hand: lean the left hand finger over to damp the adjacent string at the same time as you play the new note.
- page 87 Jean-François DELCAMP (1956) EXTENSIONS
Play this left-hand exercise trying to leave your fingers in place on the strings as long as you can, as I show you in the following video. If the stretches between your fingers feel too much for you, you can make it easier for the left hand by using a capo so that you play on the higher frets which are closer together and your fingers will not have to stretch so far apart. Avoid bending your left wrist, as this not only hurts, but also hinders the mobility of your fingers. Aim for the position (of the guitar neck, your elbow and your shoulder) which will allow you to play without bending your left wrist, as shown in the following video. You will be able to play this exercise more effectively if you place your left thumb below your ring finger, i.e. below the third fret.
- page 65 Mattéo CARCASSI (1792-1853) VALSE opus 59
The first 8 bar phrase is made up of short elements, it is fragmented. The second 8 bar phrase is all one block, and therefore forms a contrast with the first phrase. The third phrase repeats the first. The fourth phrase is a synthesis of the first two phrases, it is made up of two elements of 4 bars each.
- page 50 Fernando SOR (1778-1839) EXERCICE II opus 35
Sing one voice and play the other. Find the best places to breathe while you are singing.
In order to mark the beat yourself, you need to count the smallest rhythmic values out loud as you play, as indicated on the score: "1 e 2 e 3 e 4 e 5 e 6 e" ("1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6" in English)
Using a metronome is useful, but it is only a temporary crutch to lean on. You will benefit far more by counting the beats out loud as you play than by using a metronome. Internalizing the rhythm allows us in time to achieve both freedom and discipline when playing, that is, to be a musician.
If counting the smallest values out loud seems difficult, or very difficult, to you, it only means that you have to persevere, or persevere a lot more. Keep at it with determination until it becomes easy and natural for you. When, after having practised it long enough, this exercise of counting out loud while you play becomes easy, then you don't need to bother with it any more.
When you start working on a new piece, start by working very slowly, concentrating on precision. The essential thing is that you should play the music perfectly, that your rhythm should be precise, your sound well controlled, and your playing musical and expressive.
Speed will come with your new skills acquired in time through work. You should not worry about speed when tackling a new piece. At the beginning, such a preoccupation would only hinder you in your progress. It is only once you have mastered the piece within the comfort of a slow tempo, that you can start to think about playing progressively faster until finally you reach the right tempo.
I recommend that you read these two pieces, very similar to the one we've just been studying:
- page 48 Fernando SOR (1778-1839) VALSE n°1 opus 51
- page 64 Mattéo CARCASSI (1792-1853) ALLEGRETTO opus 59
I advise you to work on all the exercises and both pieces for one week. From December 14th, please record and post your recordings on the forum for exercises number 9 on page 87 and number 54 on page 102, as well as for the VALSE on page 65.
The work I'm asking of you is difficult and requires you to be both organized and disciplined. It is certain that you will struggle to get your fingers to perform the exact movements required for the exercises. In order to succeed in this, you need to make the same movements several dozen times daily. The goal of these exercises is to strengthen and stretch your finger muscles, to make your fingers stronger and more agile. Put in plenty of work, every day, on the difficult parts, focus on them and play the easy parts only occasionally.
To get the best out of your practice time, split it up into 15 minute sessions, and leave your hands to rest for at least 30 minutes between sessions. If your hands hurt, leave them to rest for an hour, the time it takes your body to eliminate the lactic acid in your muscles, which is the main cause of muscle pain.
I thank Geoff (GeoffB) who has helped in the translation of my lessons into English.