February 24, 2007
A little bit after I arrived to Southampton after Christmas I decided this would be the year I would go and take some time every day and dedicate it to the study of music theory and playing an instrument. Since I had played the classical guitar for a few years when I was about 10 (which means I knew nothing about it!) it was a nice instrument to play (although the piano was also a possibility). Anyway, there’s a reason why in at the end of the day I sticked to the guitar.
When I was a kid, my mother (hope you’re there thinking about me mum, I’m surely thinking about you) used to take me and my brother to a beach in Sesimbra. One day, I remember perfectly (it’s surely one of my oldest memories), I say a full-grown man playing the guitar under a big sun umbrella to his wife and kids. Well, for some reason, I thought I would want to be able to exactly that one day: Play to my family, and that thought stays with me up until today (it’s funny how some simple events and people we never knew and probably never will know can change our lives for ever).
Well, this is the year. So, I talked with a PhD colleague of mine which plays the piano, and the classical guitar and has a huge knowledge regarding classical music, mainly because his father was a professional pianist, and he advised me on how to learn the classical guitar. I knew only one thing: I didn’t want to pay a guy huge amounts of money for him to teach me, what I could learn with a lot of patience and time by myself (and it happens that I have both!). So, my colleague, John, borrowed me his concert classical guitar and I bought a bunch of books which I’ve been reading daily with some time for practising in the guitar. Another of my aims was not just to be able to play some tunes but to know the theory behind the thing. I prefer playing a very simple tune and know the theory behind it than playing a very complex, shine and popular tune without knowing the basic concepts of tempo, rhythm, harmonics, etc. So I got four books:
- The AB Guide to Music Theory Vol 1, by Eric Taylor – to study the theory behind the music.
- Solo Guitar Playing: Book 1 (with CD), by Frederick Noad – which is a tutorial from beginner to advanced guitar playing which will take me about 2 years to go through.
- Aaron Shearer Learning the Classic Guitar: Part 1 and Learning the Classic Guitar Part 2which will serve as a reference guide to playing the classical guitar, as well as music reading, positioning, nail care, etc.
Now, I’ve already done quite a bit of exercises and I’ve played some very simple things along with arpeggios from Noads book. One of the most things which surprised me enormously is was the importance of nail care and surely they do all the difference. Just by trimming them appropriately and having them at the correct size changed my plays completely. It was a huge improvement! :-)
Well, I’m really happy with my development in the last two months (almost) and hopefully I’ll be able to play something more complex later, who knows even post some recorded plays from me! heheh (that should be something!)
Now I’ll leave you with some references to Kent Murdicks videos at YouTube (which knows pretty well Shearer’s method). Enjoy:
- Positioning the Guitar
- Rest Stroke
- Free Stroke
- Left Hand Part I
- Left Hand Part II
- Left Hand Part III
On more two music related references, I found MusiXTeX a very nice typesetting solution for music and on software Rosegarden is a dream come true. Obviously I don’t compose anything as of yet but it is useful as a metronome and as a checker, i.e., as a way to check that I’m playing the exercises correctly. I copy the exercises from the book to rosegarden and I follows rosegarden’s play. I can then obviously increase the number of beats per measure as I get proficient on a given exercise. It’s very, very good!