Tips for Better Classical Guitar Playing

Every week I search the internet for material that could instruct, inform or inspire intermediate level classical guitarist like myself.

It is getting harder and harder to find material that I haven’t already included in my site content at some time or another. My main sources have dried up considerably of late, but I guess that folk like Simon Powis and Bradford Werner are so well known that most amateur players subscribe directly to their sites and don’t need me to curate their material.

In my search this week I rediscovered classicalsuitar.org and although it appears to have been dormant since 2018, its content remains useful. In 2009 Christopher Davis wrote a post entitled 21 Tips for Better Guitar Playing. Most, if not all 21 ideas are covered, often in more detail, by other bloggers and teachers, but it is handy to have them all together in one concise form. So, it’s worth reading through his list at https://www.classicalguitar.org/2009/11/21-tips-for-better-guitar-playing/ and then spending some time viewing his other offerings. Thank you Chris.

 

Milos Karadaglic favourite CG pieces

ClassicFM recently interviewed Mios Karadaglic and asked him to speak about his five all-time favourite guitar pieces. They are Astorias, Concerto de Aranjuez, Koyunbaba, Lute Suite No 2 in C min, and Blackbird (not realy a classical guitar piece).

Three of the five are very well known, but Koyunbaba by Domeniconi and Blackbird by the Beatles may be less familiar to many.  Here they are played by Milos himself.

VLOG

 

A Vlog is a fairly recent use of youtube and other video platforms. The word ‘vlog’ is an abbreviation of ‘video blog’ and it is really just the visual equivalent of a normal blog post.

Matthew McAllister  has been vlogging for a while now as part of his youtube channel .

The other day I came across a new classical guitar vlog by Merce Font  that looks promising – have a look and see if its helpful.

 

Spot Practice: A lesson by Dave Belcher on Classical Guitar Corner

Some time ago, I came across this article on Classical Guitar Corner on Spot Practice that I found very helpful. Dave describes Spot Practice as:

‘Spot practice is a lot like slow practice, but with one important difference: while slow practice reduces the tempo to give your fingers more time to make the movements they need to make and to identify problems you couldn’t notice when playing at faster tempos, spot practice removes tempo as a factor altogether.

Here’s how spot practice works: when you get to a tricky spot in a passage (something slow practice should have helped you identify as a trouble passage!) we want to STOP. Completely pause right at, say, that difficult left-hand shift. Then take it step by step, without the tempo: (1) Determine exactly the movements your fingers need to make to get from where they are to where they need to go; (2) Begin to prepare your fingers over the strings they are going to go; (3) Shift positions and carefully and in a relaxed manner place your fingers to land the shift; (4) Repeat. That’s it! The point here is to give your fingers the time they need to make that shift accurately’.

To read the full article on Spot Practice and view the video, just click HERE

Xuefei Yang

Xuefei Yang plays Xodó da Baiana by Dilermando Reis. The video was made for the Starface TV documentary show on Phoenix TV, for the episode featuring Xuefei. She is playing a Greg Smallman guitar.

Xuefei is an extraordinarily talented classical guitarist. Watching her video performances, I am always taken by her dexterity and apparently effortless fluidity, even in the fastest of movements.

According to her official biography, ‘Xuefei was the first-ever guitarist in China to enter a music school, & became the first internationally recognised Chinese guitarist on the world stage. Her first public appearance was at the age of ten and received such acclaim that the Spanish Ambassador in China presented her with a concert guitar. Her debut in Madrid at the age of 14 was attended by the composer Joaquín Rodrigo and, when John Williams heard her play, he gave two of his own instruments to Beijing’s Central Conservatoire especially for her and other advanced students.’

Here she plays Cavatina at the BBC Proms In The Park 2018 on Titanic Slipways , Belfast, accompanied by the Ulster Orchestra.

Allan Mathews and Matthew McAllister on Barre Technique

Allan writes; ‘Bar chords are strenuous.  They take strength and endurance.  They are hard to get right and easy to get wrong. But there are ways to make them more likely to work.  If we use our bodies well, bar chords can be, if not comfortable, at least doable’.

It’s hard to execute Barre technique correctly and I have found them very difficult in certain positions. So, any help with this appreciated… Thanks, Allan and Matthew

 

Alex Tsiboulski plays Vals No 4 Op 8 by Barrios

 

I found this stimulating performance on The GSI site. Alex was born in the Ukranian, but he now lives in Australia. It’s not just his face and body that is expressive because this extends to the way he phrases and performs the music. A truly accomplished classical guitarist.

You can find many of his performances HERE

Some current classical guitar compositions

 

Some time ago, I exchanged emails with Jim Giddings of Denton, Texas. Jim composes music for classical guitar, much of it with a decidedly Latin American flavour. The difficulty level of his pieces is mainly Intermediate with a few more suitable for the advanced beginner.

All his music is available free of charge and HIS SITE  is worth visiting to browse through his collections. To get an idea of what his compositions sound like, go HERE.

Yulong Guo a.echoes Classical Guitar

Yulong Guo Front

Of the four instruments I imported from China, I have sold two, given away one, and have the best of them all still for sale …at cost.

Yulong Guo recently won second place at the 2018 Festival Internacional de la Guitarra de Granada. He is China’s premier luthier and he designs and makes beautiful concert grade guitars. The A-Echoes Double Top Classic Guitar is a fine example of his art and craftsmanship.

I am making this guitar available at cost because I have decided that Classical Guitar SA will be a non-commercial service to the amateur guitar community.

Click HERE for full details of this beautiful guitar.