beginners technique books

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
tonyb
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beginners technique books

Post by tonyb » Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:13 am

Interested in your opinion of best beginner technique books. I'm currently using Aaron Shearer's " Learning the Classic Guitar", part one (Mel Bay), it has only line drawings but large clearly written text. A teaching of his is " Precede each movement you make on the guitar with a clear aim " To me it can mean focusing on a particular aspect of a movement (ie relax fingers) rather than an over-generalized aim, or wish such as 'play a good chord'. Another of his books has photos. Good book?

Laudiesdad69
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Re: beginners technique books

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:39 am

Tony, I read your 3 posts and I have to say that the Aaron Shearer book is good. However, if you are a total beginner, I would suggest getting a qualified teacher. Also, if you do get a teacher, the silent guitar probably isn't going to work out so good for lessons. You will need a real guitar (they can be had for as little as $200 with a solid top.) Just my two cents. Good luck and see you around the forum.

tonyb
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Re: beginners technique books

Post by tonyb » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:34 am

I live in apt,i like it dead quiet and must provide that to neighbor also. I'm a senior citizen--if i learn ten chords before i die, Success! Thanks for suggestion.

Todd Tipton
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Re: beginners technique books

Post by Todd Tipton » Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:57 pm

For a rank beginner, I second the Shearer books. I also second the advise of a competent teacher (no easy task sometimes). However, if one simply doesn't have, can't get, etc. a teacher, I find Shearer's books to best give some of the advice needed (whether or not that was his intent).

There are a few things I might recommend in addition to Shearer. Sagreras Guitar Lessons Book One. You may find book one somewhere, or you may find the Mel Bay Books 1-3 for a slightly higher price. Either book is fine. The first 37 exercises are very worthy and can begin supplementing Shearer once you are reading on the first 3 strings. I wouldn't take exercise one lightly. It is of paramount importance. From then, I would skip to lessons 9-15. Then lessons 17-23. Once shearer takes you through the forth and fifth strings, you can then go back to lessons 2-8 and 16.

Once a student begins working on the fifth and sixth strings of Shearer, you can gradually begin working on the final lessons 24-37. This is a major accomplishment and you should allow the process to take as long as it takes. As Shearer repeatedly advises, don't rush ahead.

A word of caution, a problem, a solution, and some encouragement: Yes, I highly recommend Shearer. I can not overstate that. I alone am responsible for hundreds of his books being sold. And that is for a very good reason. However, yes here it comes...

However, once a student begins working on the fifth or sixth string (and maybe even the fourth) the material becomes too unnecessarily difficult far too quickly for the left hand. This is a problem. For a student without the guidance of a competent teacher, this can lead to serious frustration. When you get there, or if you are already there, relax. Chill. It isn't you.

A student has worked hard developing some good study and practice habits. They are beginning to understand reading. They are thrilled, and so are the listeners, to securely play their first solos such as Serenade, Slavic Dance, etc. Petite Valse is a wonderful piece, a confidence booster, and really highlights the best the guitar can give with the new skills just learned. But the LEFT hand? If a student didn't already begin feeling the trouble in Two By Two or Music Box, they will begin feeling it soon after. Yes, these pieces are important. They are very important. But, the learning curve begins to get too steep.

Instead of feeling frustrated, a student should really recognize that they are completing a HUGE level of playing. I might call it Preliminary. At this point, Shearer should become a fraction of what a student does allowing lots of other things to fill in the gaps between the adjacent pages. Where can that material be found? The Bridges Comprehensive Guitar Series. At this point, a student is ready to begin working in the Preparatory Guitar Repertoire and Studies. (After that is much more repertoire Grades 1-8). Don't let the numbers confuse you. Book one is really the THIRD level. The introductory book I am talking about is the SECOND level. The hard work with Shearer up to the point I left off is the FIRST level.

In this introductory repertoire book, you will find a wealth of repertoire that is not too easy nor too difficult. In fact, at least half of the material may be easier than some of the material in Shearer due to the left hand. There are pieces from the 16 and 1700s, modern pieces, and everything in between. Shearer provides the foundation to begin exploring this music with intelligence and care. And the student begins to learn pieces they enjoy playing, and others enjoy listening to.

Lastly, a nice tiny little book I would recommend is Ricardo Iznaola on Practicing: A Manual for Students of Guitar. It is smaller than a comic book, talks about some of the same ideas as Shearer, but gets a little more specific on how to better learn new music with greater efficiency and effectiveness. There are many fine books with similar advice coupled with lots of exercises, some even too advanced for me...lol What I like about Iznaola is that it is compact, and has good solid information someone at the beginning level could use right away.

I would be irresponsible to not recommend a competent teacher again. A teacher that understands the importance of habits, and helps a student learn to work more efficiently and effectively. On the other hand, there really is one thing that is more important: That is, that you enjoy your experience of learning the guitar. I hope that my advice plays a small part in making that experience more rewarding for you.
Dr. Todd Tipton, classical guitarist
Cincinnati, OH, USA (available via Skype)

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guitarrista
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Re: beginners technique books

Post by guitarrista » Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:17 pm

Todd Tipton wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 8:57 pm
Sagreras Guitar Lessons Book One. You may find book one somewhere, or you may find the Mel Bay Books 1-3 for a slightly higher price.
Just a quick note that all the Sagreras Lessons are available for free on delcamp, in four languages, thanks to an amazing multi-year editing effort by a great team of volunteers on the forum.

You can find them all as pdf files at this page.
Konstantin
--
1982 Anselmo Solar Gonzalez

Todd Tipton
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Re: beginners technique books

Post by Todd Tipton » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:51 pm

What a monumental task! May God grant me the elegance to mention a most delicate and fragile topic in light of the members who have contributed their hard work and time to this project:

Is there a copy that doesn't have the solfège printed above the notes in the first 37 exercises?

One of the first things I do with Sagreras with my students is to assist Shearer in learning to read. Having the solfège printed above the notes takes away from a student being able to use those first 37 exercises in exactly that way. For that reason alone, I would have to recommend to a beginning student still learning to read in open position to purchase a copy of this work.

Please don't kill me. Sorry. Other than that very small (but crucial in my particular situation) item with the first 37 exercises, this is a monumental effort that will provide a lifetime of material. I never finished working through all six books? Has anyone? ...lol
Dr. Todd Tipton, classical guitarist
Cincinnati, OH, USA (available via Skype)

Todd Tipton
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Re: beginners technique books

Post by Todd Tipton » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:21 am

In all of the discussion and taking a closer look at your post, it occurred to me that some of the most obvious and important parts of your post have been ignored.

First off, you state that you have book one, that it only has line drawings, and is mostly written text. It is book TWO that actually has the music in it. Book TWO is where all the work is. Book ONE serves as sort of a teacher for book two. Both books are to be used together. In fact, I have many of my students purchase only book TWO because they are taking lessons. In addition, there is a book THREE that is ALSO to be used with the other two books. Especially if you are going to do this without a teacher, I HIGHLY recommend getting all three books. At a minimum, you will need book two in order to begin.

Secondly, you asked about "Precede each movement you make on the guitar with a clear aim." Yes, this is very specific, not general at all. While it takes a lifetime to fully understand (I am still figuring it out...lol) the premise that holds all of this together is very simple to understand. I will spell it out very explicitly:

We are creatures of habit. For better or worse, when we repeat something over and over, we get very good at it. What that usually means is that we get very good with making the exact same mistakes over and over again. We get very good at those mistakes because we repeat them over and over. Something happens almost immediately with all students. If it doesn't happen the first week of study, it happens the second week of study. Perhaps it is in one of the first So-Re exercises, or perhaps it is Bugler's Tune. It might not even happen until the middle of Lullaby, but it WILL happen: a student will not readily be able to play what is written on the page with out a mistake. Attempting to play it over and over is not the solution. Remember, for better or worse? Creatures of habit? Sure, a student may eventually get it, but that isn't the point. The "play it over and over" method is the complete opposite of what needs to happen. Without dealing with this sooner rather than later, a student is sure to quickly begin hitting a wall.

The first time a student can not readily play what is written is a crucial and wonderful moment with the teacher and student. It is an introduction to what I spend most of my time doing every single day, and is the very beginning of learning to work efficiently and effectively. So, if you don't repeat the piece over and over, what do you do?

You find the problem. If there is more than one problem, you focus on one problem only. You set everything else aside. For example, you play a quarter note instead of an eight note in one spot. As a result, you come in too early for the next note. Being a creature of habit, you are likely to repeat this mistake. So you take a very small section of music that ONLY CONTAINS THAT ONE PROBLEM AND NO OTHERS. Slowly and carefully, you make sure you understand what you were supposed to do, but didn't do. You can even sing it, or play it with your air guitar. You erase all the other music from your attention and quickly discover how easy this isolated passage is if you only had to just play it and could also play it very slowly.

So, that is exactly what you do. You carefully and slowly play the passage correctly. Avoid the temptation to speed it up. Remember, you are trying to build a new habit. You want to go slow enough that your mind is ahead of the fingers. You know that what you are about to play is correct before you even play it. Through repetition, you will get very good at it.

Now, think about it again in THAT context. Read again Shearer's Guidelines for study and practice. Those guidelines serve me every single day when I am in the practice chair. And a good deal of my time is spent every single week with every single student getting better at it. What I tell my students is that we basically cheat. It is like we have found a loophole. "Wait a minute, let me get this straight. So, no matter what I do, if I repeat it, then I get very good at it! Ha! I'm going to beat the system! I'm going to take small enough sections, and play them slow enough so that everything is very contrived. Each little snippet will be so easy and simple that I won't hardly ever make a mistake. And I will just repeat them. And then, I will gradually put the sections together and accidentally get good! Haha!" Yeah, that is kind of what we do. Or at least it is kind of what we SHOULD do. I'm getting better at it, but I'm not there yet! :-)

Get that second book and start learning some music! :-)
Dr. Todd Tipton, classical guitarist
Cincinnati, OH, USA (available via Skype)

Todd Tipton
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Re: beginners technique books

Post by Todd Tipton » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:35 am

Todd Tipton wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:21 am
What I tell my students is that we basically cheat. It is like we have found a loophole. "Wait a minute, let me get this straight. So, no matter what I do, if I repeat it, then I get very good at it! Ha! I'm going to beat the system! I'm going to take small enough sections, and play them slow enough so that everything is very contrived. Each little snippet will be so easy and simple that I won't hardly ever make a mistake. And I will just repeat them. And then, I will gradually put the sections together and accidentally get good! Haha!" Yeah, that is kind of what we do. Or at least it is kind of what we SHOULD do. I'm getting better at it, but I'm not there yet! :-)
As a side note having absolutely nothing to do with anything, the piano and I are old arch enemys...lol. I love the piano. I love the repertoire and I love to hear it. But I couldn't play well enough to save my life. In college, everyone is required to take class piano for four semesters, and is often also required to pass a proficiency exam.

I remember the same thing would happen every single Monday afternoon. All the students, including me, would get their music for the week. Instantly, everyone would begin hacking their way through the music. If they wanted, they could take the test right then and there and probably pull a C. And because they had better things to do with their time, many of them did exactly the same thing every Friday. They took their C and went home. I was envious and jealous. My piano skills were far below that of most of my classmates. Every Monday afternoon I sat at a piano and stared at music that was FAR too difficult for me. I couldn't just kind of play through it like all the other students. The material got far too difficult for me and far too quickly.

But I did have one thing. I knew how to practice. And I had years f experience with the exact same thing Shearer is trying to teach a rank beginner: the ability to practice. The music was too hard. I had to spend too much time with it. But, logic would dictate, either I knew the music or I didn't. There wasn't any kind of in between faking my way through it. I often had to learn almost every single note in a very contrived way. I got straight A's in class piano.
Dr. Todd Tipton, classical guitarist
Cincinnati, OH, USA (available via Skype)

tonyb
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Re: beginners technique books

Post by tonyb » Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:03 am

Thank you Todd for your generous reply. You have turned my simple post into a learning opportunity for all us beginners.

tonyb
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Re: beginners technique books

Post by tonyb » Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:04 am

( sent post twice by mistake)

JeffR709
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Re: beginners technique books

Post by JeffR709 » Thu Dec 14, 2017 3:17 am

I played the guitar for years, mostly electric, and then started to take lessons for about 3 years and decided to learn to read music. I started with Martha Masters "The Total Classical Guitarist" and really enjoyed it. It took about a year to get through it but it takes you to about the Intermediate level with many different composers. I did know how to read music when I was a percussionist in the Junior High and High School band, but I never really learned to read music for guitar. I would 2nd what a couple of others said about getting some lessons so you at least start off the right way.

I also downloaded the lessons on this site as well. I was a member here a few years back but when I went back to electric I didn't post enough and lost my membership. But the lessons here are very good too and you should try them. Good luck with what you decide. btw, I expect to start lessons again for classical since I got kind of rusty reading music when I went back to the electric. Something always seems to bring me back to classical even though I'm not all that competent at classical.

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