I've spent a good chunk of today with my nose buried in the Escuela. On more detailed study I find my original opinion very much unchanged... it's a much better beginner's book than the Neuvo Methodo. But once again, the Nuevo Methodo absolutely RULES for the intermediate to advanced player. It might actually be the best method in my collection, including the more modern ones.The big issues with the 1843 Nuevo Methodo as I see them are:
1) Complete lack of beginner's study. Aguado seems to more or less abandon the idea altogether. He introduces concepts as if talking to a beginner, but gives only a tiny handful of playing examples at that level. Contrast that with the Escuela in which fully half the book is in the first position.
2) Very little theory.
3) The transition to sight-reading in the higher positions is too abrupt.
4) The music, while generally very good to superb, is all written by one guy from one era.
However, this book could be the basis for an incredibly effective course of study. I'm drawing up a tentative plan for my daughter since she is so taken with Aguado right now, and it could work for others as well. Here's an outline:
1) Work up to the book. Some of this can be done using a great deal of what is in the earlier stages of the Escuela de Guitarra, although supplementary material would be needed. I think the Nuevo methodo is best tackled by a student who is a solid level 2 or above. I notice that lesson 10 (page 23 of the Tecla edition) is in the level 2 bridges book, although the Bridges version simplifies the rhythm by eliminating the dotted 16ths. Not cool! There's no reasons level 2 player can't handle dotted 16ths. Or if you really don't think it's level 2 material, put it in the level 3 book instead of screwing it up. Rant over.
2) Include lessons on theory and harmony with numerous practical examples. The best theory treatise I've seen specifically for guitar is a doctoral thesis by Jefferey McFadden, but it's written for college level guitar majors, NOT complete beginners. The teacher is, for the moment, on his or her own.
3) A teacher must evaluate the studies in the back of the book, and know when to insert them into the curriculum. Not all of them are advanced.
4) Between lessons 15 and 16 (page 26 in the Tecla edition) some supplementary sight-reading study needs to be added to ease the transition to playing above the first position.
5) You would want to supplement Aguado's pieces with works from other composers and eras. My plan is to use a lot of the stuff from Solo Guitar Playing (whatever you think of Noad you have to admit the man knew how to pick repertoire) and maybe some material from the Bridges books.
6) Some occasional modification would be needed to take account of modern technique... but actually it's damn little. Aguado was 95% of the way there in 1843.
That's pretty much it. In his introduction to the Tecla edition Jeffereys says:
...anyone who studies the book and successfully works his way through it will probably have received the most solid grounding in technique that any book can give him.
I agree. Throw in a little supplementary reading and some additional repertoire and you're there. I'd be hard pressed to think of any other method I could say that for.