Time sure flies. I can’t believe November is just a few days away. Even though I graduated many years ago, fall still feels a bit like back-to-school time for me. Every fall For the past several years I have enrolled in the free classical guitar study program over at Delcamp.net.
This year is no exception, except that I am getting a little bit of a late start. The 2015-2016 courses are already in full-swing. But the great thing about Delcamp is that you go at your own pace.
The Delcamp study program is really great and I recommend it to anyone who is serious about learning to play classical guitar. The course work is interesting an increases very gradually from simple exercises to more complicated and beautiful classical pieces. Also the members of the forum are all nice and very helpful.
Another amazing thing about the Delcamp forum members is that it is a truly international community of musicians. Last year I got to work with guitarists from India, China, Serbia, the UK and many other places around the world. It is inspiring to exchange musical tips and encouragement with such a diverse group.
The conditions for registration are available on the forum: http://www.classicalguitardelcamp.com/
This year I am looking forward to registering four the Level D03 courses. If you decide to sign up, let me know what level you are in and I’ll be sure to leave feedback on your videos.
In a previous post I talked about the Florida Guitar Foundation and their monthly Classical Guitar Open-Mic Nights. The performances are held at the Miami Conservatory of Music in Coconut Grove. Last week was my first opportunity to go and perform. Well, I did it!!
While the night was very casual and informal, it was still a stage with a mic and an audience, so it was a lot like a real performance. I wouldn’t say that I was nervous, but I sure was rusty.
I always forget how hard it is to START playing. I mean, you walk up, introduce yourself, maybe make a joke or comment and then there is a second or two of absolute silence. Ugh! I hate that silence. The audience is just staring at you and you have to just GO… Start!
With rock music you can usually unleash a KRRRRANNNGGGG chord to shatter the nerves and then dive right in. No such luck with classical guitar. You are supposed to be 100% beautiful sounding from the first note. Oh, brother.
I’d say my performance at the open mic was a solid 70% beautiful. I played two short pieces: “Andantino” Op.241 by Ferdinand Carulli, and “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams. These were two of the very first pieces I learned on the classical guitar and I have been playing them for a long time. At Gables Guitar Studio I can make these pieces sound great. I mean I have worked on them to the point where I can really dig in. I can manipulate tempo and dynamics, and make artistic choices as far as phrasing and direction… I can do all that when I play AT HOME. Being out there in front of people, even in this informal setting, is very different.
Right before I started the Carulli piece I had a moment to center myself and I could feel it. About 30% of my brain was just unavailable. I have performed in front of people enough to kill most of the actual fear that I used to feel. My heart rate and breathing were normal, and my hands were steady. But that part of the brain still always kind of shuts off when it’s go time. Maybe that part of the brain still feels all that fear and I’ve just gotten really good at blocking it out when I need to.
Either way, the mental block prevented me from being present on stage this time. Without presence any hope for a true performance was squashed. Whatever part of my brain is needed for interpretation, and nuance was all walled-up. Instead I merely recited my two pieces essentially from muscle memory. While this kind of performance squarely placed me in the chump category, this is about as good as I could have hoped for this time around. This was, after all, my first time on a real stage playing solo classical repertoire. I consider it a success having made it through without crashing and burning (which was a very real possibly here). Still, If I am ever going to become comfortable enough to become a truly present classical performer, I have to get more time in front of audiences. I will keep swinging hammers at that mental wall in the hope that it will break.
So its back to the rehearsal room to prepare to do it again next month. I have been going over my repertoire book during my practice time trying to decide what I might play at the next classical guitar open mic. Right now it looks like I’ll probably try to play “Lagrima” and “Romanza de Amor”.
Who knows though? Things are also progressing really fast for me lately, especially in terms of technique. Maybe I could have a complete flamenco falsetta by then. That would be awesome. Time will tell.
If you are interested in performing at the next open mic, it will most likely be held at the Miami Conservatory of Music:
Miami Conservatory of Music
2911 grand avenue
suite 400 A
miami, fl 33133
They haven’t announced the date yet, but when they do I’m sure it will be posted on the Florida Guitar Foundation website.
Just wanted to send out a quick update to let you know that I’m participating in a Coupon promotion over at Coral Gables Love. If you’re not already a reader of Coral Gables Love, it is a blog that promotes local businesses in the Coral Gables area.
Coral Gables Love has been adding some internet-only coupons to their site for some of the coolest local shops and restaurants in the Gables (including Gables Guitar Stuido). I’m offering a coupon for a FREE intro class through the end of June 2015. Current guitar students aren’t eligible, but I would really appreciate it if you’d help spread the word. Tell a friend or just keep it in mind in case somebody in your life it thinking about trying guitar lessons.
AND if you are in the Coral Gables area, go check out Coral Gables Love. There are already a bunch of coupons for places in town that you might enjoy. You may want to bookmark that CGL coupon page because it gets updated frequently and I happen to know that a lot more coupons are on the way!
ALSO Coral Gables Love is going to do a profile on Gables Guitar Studio’s new location soon. If you are interested, stay tuned and I’ll announce it here when it comes out.
We have exciting news! Starting on Saturday, February 28, 2015 Gable Guitar Studio will be offering private guitar lessons on Saturday. Many of our students have requested weekend lessons and we are happy to report they are now available. If you have been interested in guitar classes but have not been able to schedule them during the week, this is your opportunity to snatch up a time slot on Saturdays. Read more >>>
Well, the second chapter in this ongoing video series is complete. I recorded demonstrations of every etude and exercise in LESSON 2 (pages 15 – 22) of William Leavitt’s “A Modern Method For Guitar, Volume 1“. And all of the videos can be see over at the Gables Guitar YouTube channel. Once again I invite all guitar students to use these videos as play-along tracks during your practice time.
Since these are a lot of short videos, be sure to click on the video playlist for LESSON 2 so that you can easily find the play-along demo for the page you are currently working on.
If you happened to stumble on this blog post and are thinking about jumping into this method book, I strongly suggest you do NOT start with LESSON 2! Start with LESSON 1. Bill Leavitt’s Modern Method series is extremely challenging and it is very easy to under estimate these early chapters. Intermediate guitarists are notorious for hastily trying to skip steps only to quickly become frustrated by their lack of progress. The ghosts of Page 1 will haunt you for… well, for as long as it takes you to go back to page 1 and sort out whatever it is you missed! The “Modern Method” series is not for guitarists who are looking for short cuts. Unless you believe, as i do, that the SHORTEST way to great guitar playing is to stop running around looking for short cuts (there aren’t any) and simply do the necessary work to build and strengthen your fundamental skills as a musician.
Also, you will certainly progress faster if you using this material in regular weekly guitar lessons with a qualified instructor. As I revisit this material to make these recordings, I am reminded of how many hundreds of little tricks I’ve had to learn just to manage these initial chapters. The advantage you will gain by working through this material with someone who has already done it is so important. I would argue that it is simply the only way to get through this book in a reasonable amount of time.
Good Luck and I’ll let you know when LESSON 3 is ready!
I’m excited to announce the debut of a new video series on the Gables Guitar YouTube channel. This new video series is going to feature guitar exercises and etudes from the classic guitar method book: “A Modern Method For Guitar, Volume 1” by William Leavitt. I will record a short video for each (and EVERY) exercise in Volume 1.
If you haven’t already purchased this classic book, you can pick up a copy at Amazon.
I am recording these videos to help all of you students who are studying from “A Modern Method For Guitar, Volume 1”. My recommendation is that you try and play along with these videos during your practice time. Hopefully playing along with these videos will be a lot like practicing with me. It should be a really excellent and fun way to ensure that you do these exercises so you can continue to progress in your guitar playing.
I’m working on the videos from subsequent lessons and I will be releasing the LESSON 2 playlist very soon!
What’s great about having the videos on YouTube is that you can access them from anywhere on your smartphone, so hopefully this makes it easy for you to use these videos during your practice time.
There will be a LOT of videos in this series (about 20 per Lesson)! I’ll post some updates here on the blog as each chapter is released. You can also subscribe to the Gables Guitar YouTube Channel to stay up-to-date on this and other video series I’m working on.
To get the most out of the LESSON 1 videos, try to keep in mind the following:
You MUST allow your technique all the time it needs to develop. What this book calls “Lesson 1” can require 1 – 2 MONTHS for experienced guitar students to get a handle on. I don’t even introduce this book to students unless they’ve been playing for over a year. You will progress FAR more quickly if you limit yourself to 3 or 4 videos per week. Just repeat those 3 or 4 until you can consistently play along with all the videos comfortably and perfectly. There is no way to cram these skills. There is no substitute for putting in 15 – 30 min a day (EVERY DAY) for many consecutive weeks. This is precisely the challenge that separates skilled guitarists from the dreamers.
Good luck and I hope playing along with these videos encourages you to practice these exercises! And I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at our next lesson!
Congratulations Linda! You are the winner of the Tara McPherson Bright Eyes Poster giveaway. We will be contacting you to coordinate the pick-up of your beautiful new poster. If you missed out on this opportunity to win a fantastic poster, keep checking in for other contests on our blog or facebook page.Read More >>
We are rock poster collectors here at Gables Guitar and we would like to share our love for art and music with you. We are kicking off our rock poster giveaway series with a beautiful poster by Tara McPherson featuring the bands Bright Eyes and The Faint. If you are not familiar with these bands these are two song we recommend to get you started: Bowl of Oranges by Bright Eyes & Your Retro Career Melted by The Faint. Keep reading for ways to participate Read More >>
Most of the schools ended classes last week and we are all ready to enjoy summer vacation! Get a head start on your guitar skills this summer by signing up for Private Guitar Lessons. We encourage our students to take advantage of their extra free time and come in to the studio for additional instruction and practice time. Read More >>
Steer clear of boring old ties this year. This father’s day give the gift of guitar lessons! We realized that many dads have been dreaming about playing the guitar since they were teenagers. This year you can realize that dream. Give them a gift certificate for guitar lessons at Gablse Guitar Studio. We are located near Miami in the heart of Coral Gables.Read More >>