Attention all Private Lesson Students at Gables Guitar Studio:
Hopefully I have told all of you individually by now, but I want to make sure that I mention our upcoming move officially here on the Gables Guitar blog. So here goes:
Effective June 1st, 2015, Gables Guitar Studio will move all business to our new address:
224 Palermo Avenue
Coral Gables, Florida 33134
This new location is very near our current location. It is less the a half mile down Ponce (see the map for more detail). I believe that you will all find this new space to be more convenient as we will be able to offer you FREE PARKING. Our new building has a small parking lot in the alley between Palermo and Catalonia Avenue.
We plan to finish moving all the books and equipment this weekend so that lessons can begin at the new space as soon as Tuesday, May 26th. So this week, classes will be held in the current space as usual and then next week we will see you at 224 Palermo.
The new address is not hard to find but you might want to allow yourself a few extra minutes of travel time next week if you aren’t familiar with the area. Of course if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me directly: (305)582-6881
Thanks so much and I look forward to showing you all our cool new space!
Recently I’ve been listening to a guitar oriented podcast called “Classical Guitar Insider” with Bret Williams. The format of the podcast is basically a one-on-one conversation between host (and guitarist in his own right) Bret Williams and guest from the world of classical guitar. Usually the guests are noted performers, composers or well respected guitar teachers.
Williams’ hosting style seems strongly influenced by the likes of Marc Maron and Bill Burr. Similar to Maron’s WTF, Williams’ approach is not to interview his guests, but just to get them talking; to reveal some candid glimpse of their personality. For the most part Williams succeeds in doing this. Over the past 2 years Williams has released over 50 episodes of Classical Guitar Insider.
I have only listed to about a dozen episodes so far but I have found each one fascinating. The guests, while they are all connected to the world of classical guitar, are all very different personalities. They all come from very different backgrounds and, even though they are all professional guitarists, they have had very different careers. And so far all the guests have been very generous with their insights into everything from performing, to teaching, to composing. They also discuss favorite (and not-so-favorite) pieces of guitar repertoire.
I think the part I like best is when these world-class musicians discuss how they came to be professional guitarists, going all the way back to their experiences as young guitar students taking lessons. I find this very interesting as a guitarist and a teacher to find out not just what they know, but how they came to learn what they know.
In short, “Classical Guitar Insider” lives up to it’s name. You get an inside look at the world of classical guitar through conversations with the professionals who are the fabric of that community. I definitely recommend this podcast to anyone who is interested in the world of concert guitar.
All 52 episodes (and counting) are available for free at
Bret William’s Website
One of the most difficult aspects of learning to play classical guitar is developing strong, well manicured fingernails on the right hand. Much of this difficulty arises because no two guitarist hands are quite the same. What works for one guitarist’s nails may not be right for another guitarist.
Having said that, I can tell you that the most common complaint I hear from first-year classical guitar students is that their nails aren’t strong enough. Many guitarists struggle with nails that either break too easily during day-to-day activity or that wear down too quickly to allow for enough daily guitar practice.
I too struggled with this issue. This is another one of those cases where guitar lessons can focus on turning a weakness into a strength. I used to think that my fingernails just weren’t genetically up to the task of proper classical guitar playing. Not just that they seemed thin and weak, but the shape of my nails also seemed to not match up with what more experienced players’ nails looked like. Now, after years of research, trial and error, the nails of my right hand are very strong and (as a result of the increased strength and thickness) my nails are much straighter than they used to be.
Let me now share with you a few EXTREMELY VALUABLE tips that I learned along the way. What follows is not a comprehensive guide to guitarists’ nail shaping. For that I refer you to your guitar library which hopefully contains the standard books which cover this topic (by Noad, Shearer, Duncan, Tenanat, etc).
1.) REVLON TREAT & BOOST – I think men can still have a hard time learning the importance and application of product to their fingernails because historically this has been thought of as a feminine thing. Well toss all those gender-normative stereotypes in the garbage, cause this stuff works! This is sort of like a clear coat of nail polish. I have tried many similar products and found Revlon’s Treat & Boost to be by far the best. At around $7.50 a bottle it is about twice as expensive as the Sally Hensen product that I know a lot of guitarists’ use. But in my experience it is totally worth it. I apply this to all five fingers of my right hand once a week and a bottle generally lasts me about 2-3 months so that $2 /month isn’t going to break my bank account.
2.) ESSIE MATTE ABOUT YOU – This is a Matte finish top coat that I apply after the Treat & Boost. I started off applying this for purely aesthetic reasons. The Treat & Boost leaves your nails pretty glossy and I didn’t like how that looked. Especially since I only use it on one hand! So I started putting this on after. Once it dries it looks as if you have no product on your nails. It also feels like it adds another layer of protection. This is the only matte finish top coat I’ve tried. There are others out there which may work better. But this one works great for me.
3.) Gloves and general cautiousness – Once your nails get into the proper shape for guitar playing they become very sturdy. But while they are growing into the shape there is a very high risk of getting chipped or dented which can prevent them from forming a strong shape. So it is very important that, while your nails are growing out, you take care of your right hand. I have a few pairs of BMX biker gloves – one in my home, one in my car, and one at the studio. This way if I am ever tempted to get into some manual type work, I ALWAYS have some protective gloves at my disposal. Aside from manual work, I avoid using my right hand to do most day-to-day things: opening doors, pushing elevator buttons, pulling wet clothes out of the washing machine, etc. This kind special care is most needed while your nails are growing out. Now that my nails are in good shape I don’t have to be quite so careful.
4.) Other Guitar Styles – Many guitarists aren’t just learning to play classical guitar. When I first started to seriously study classical guitar playing, I was also trying to develop technique & repertoire in rock, jazz, and folk fingerstyle genres. Particularly rock and folk fingerstyle playing can take a toll on the right hand nails that purely classical players don’t have to deal with. The steel strings of a folk guitar will really tear up your nails until you figure out the correct shape and stroke. Also right-hand tapping techniques used in rock and metal can cause horrible dents in your nails. My advice is to take it easy and be very carful with these styles. Pay attention to how they affect your nails. Maybe try using finger picks or Riconails to protect your natural nail until you develop the proper shape/stroke. Most importantly, don’t give up. It is entirely possible to become proficient on all styles of guitar. There will be setbacks as you learn but your nails will grow back and you will learn to be more careful.
For whatever it’s worth, I think it is best to develop the proper shape and stroke on classical guitar. Once you’ve really got it down, you can then apply the classical right hand technique more or less exactly to the folk guitar with minimal wear and tear to the nails. This doesn’t work so well the other way around.
So those are some hard-won tips that I had to learn through painful trial and error. I hope that they help you if you are trying to grow out your nails for classical guitar playing. If you have any questions/comments on this subject please leave them below.
Spring break in South Florida is like summer with better weather. I hope that you all are making the most of your holidays. A lot of my guitar students are jetting off with their families to far corners of the globe. Some are heading to tropical locations while others are going up North for last chance at late-season skiing and snowboarding.
But for those of you sticking around town there is plenty of fun to be had right here in Miami. And I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least try to encourage you to use some of this sudden increase in free time to PRACTICE GUITAR. I know for you beginners it’s not as appealing as spending the day at the beach, but remember that practice is just the necessary step to many more rewarding things such as performing music.
Again this year I am proud to see some dedicated students are using their days off to come in for additional lessons. While one guitar lesson per week is sufficient to maintain progress, I have found that students who are able to certainly benefit from attending classes more frequently.
If you do decide to pick up a few extra hours of guitar instruction over the next few weeks, you should know that I’ll have time-slots available from 8:00am-7:00pm on weekdays AND I still have some times open on Saturday mornings. As always, please call/txt/email me ahead of time so that I can find you a place on the schedule.
OK. Well here’s to everyone having a fun and safe spring break and please don’t forget to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
This year give the perfect gift of Guitar Lessons! You’ve been racking your brain, surfing websites, and window shopping; but nothing jumps out as a great gift. Don’t fret – we’ve got you covered at Gables Guitar. Get a gift certificate for a pack of 4 private guitar lessons. A 4-pack gives the recipient a month of the best guitar lessons in South Florida right in the heart of Coral Gables.
Get the perfect gift this Holiday Season by giving the Gift of Private Guitar Lessons! Do you know someone who owns a guitar and doesn’t know how to play it? Maybe you are thinking of giving someone a guitar; private lessons are the perfect addition to get them started. Maybe you’ve been thinking about learning to play the guitar. This is the perfect time of year to get going!
As a guitarists, we have two main jobs: PRACTICE and PERFORMANCE. I like to think of any accessory that helps make practice or performance easier as a tool. When it comes to guitar accessories there are a lot of products on the market and, while I consider most of these to be amusing or optional, there are a few accessories that I consider to be part of a guitarist’s Essential Tool Kit. Read more >> (more…)