Beginner's impressions

A "classroom" environment for exchanging Technical Questions & Answers, How-To's, music theory concepts, etc.
Ángel de Vicente

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by Ángel de Vicente » Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:05 pm

Hi Ray,
rayjang wrote:Ángel
Cecile is a beauty. And the sound is clear. Great work. I believe you will find much pleasure in playing a guitar crafted with your own hands that looks so good and sounds so clean. No doubt the tone will change with time and playing, but, to me it sounds lovely right now.

How do you find time to build a guitar even while you are studying the performance of it?
Thanks for the encouragement. Certainly it gives some extra touch to the guitar playing when you are playing something that you have built yourself.

Re. the time, well, I have very little spare time (full-time job, conservatoire studies and two small kids...) so it took me 9 months to build it, where it should be finished in a week or two if you can devote sufficient time to it... Oh well, the kids will grow (eventually) :-)

Cheers,
Ángel

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:49 pm

Ángel

Enjoy those kids, every moment, they will grow up before you know it.

Oski79

A full day of practice only occurs when I meet with the other guys. My usual morning practice routine is 2-3hrs with a lot of breaks.
However, I notice now that we are focused on a set of pieces that this morning they were getting a little old due to repetition each and every day. The good thing is that the rough spots are smoothing out. But, I did find it a relief to break out some other pieces. Carcassi and Brouwer's Un Dia de Noviembre which I have not played for a while.

Student Opera Companies

I caught the tail-end of a PBS show that showed American and Polish students doing a collaborative production of the The Marriage of Figaro. Apparently the Americans had done it in the US a few months prior and an agreement was made with the Polish institution to mix the casts and put on several (I think it was four) performances in Poland. The orchestra was Polish. The documentary traced the travel to Poland, rehearsals, dress rehearsals and highlights of each of the performances. For the Americans it was the culmination of two years of work, and the combined companies got standing ovations.

Didn't catch which US school it was, nor the faculty member who led the enterprise. I was touched by the comments of the students who reflected that the final performance would be bittersweet as it meant the end of a long journey, arduous work and discipline.

Cheers all. Ray

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:43 pm

At first you can't and then, one day, you can!

Brouwer's Un Dia de Noviembre has an ABC structure. The B section has a series of barre chord measures which are light, bell-like and beautiful to hear. I never could play them without sounding clunky. Last summer after the CCM workshop and my thought of working on simple pieces to play them perfectly, I set the Brouwer piece aside. This week, out of curiousity and needing relief from repetition on the current slate of pieces being studied I took out the Brouwer score. As I re-familiarized myself with the notes, much to my surprise the B section actually sounded right!

I surmise the work I've done on the LH, and the practice of duet pieces using higher frets has created capabilities that were not there before. In any event it is a pleasant surprise to see such a jump in progress.

While I am enjoying this development there remains the C section, which is also lovely and involves some awesome stretches (12th fret E on the high string to 7th fret B on the low). I will love the day when I can play that too.

Cheers all. Ray.

Orion

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by Orion » Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:51 pm

Good stuff Ray. I also started Un Dia de Noviembre about a year ago and got quite tied up on the B section. Like you, I put it aside to get some easier pieces properly under my fingers. Your post has inspired me to give it another go. Fingers crossed that I experience a similar technique-jump!

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Fri Feb 25, 2011 4:50 pm

Orion:

All the best to you, and I hope you do find the rest period has generated increased skill.

Its a gorgeous piece isn't it?

Best. Ray

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:51 pm

Ensemble Practice

Alex and I practiced our solo pieces and duets today, prior to meetng with Harry for the trio. We alternate between my house and Alex's for our sessions. I encountered the same strangeness today at a different site, as occurred when I was taking lessons. Pieces I could play at home somehow did not come out the same when sitting in a different chair in a new location, and in front of another person (even if an ensemble mate). Scarborough Fair has improved greatly, but it was much smoother at home. Alex said it sounded quite acceptable so I'm encouraged.

Regardless, we had a good practice, the number of pieces we are working on takes considerable time to go through, especially if we repeat to get the sticcky parts resolved.

We have two more practices before our Friday nursing home performance. The next is Tuesday at my house, we will videotape and time. Then we will do a practice at the nursing home site Wednesday to get oriented and to check out the situation.

We have created a program listing the titles and composers and a batting order for the trio, duets and solos. We plan to wear black shirts and trousers and will initiate the program with greetings to the audience and brief descriptions of the pieces.

Harry brought a book of Dowland music to our session. He is thinking of accompanying with his lute. Alex will sing and Harry suggested I play the guitar line. So that would be a new experiment for our trio to explore. Never a dull moment is there?

Cheers, Ray.

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:27 am

Spousal encouragement

When I told my wife Pat, that I was going to stop watching TV with her tonight to go practice, she made my day by saying, "You don't need to, it already sounds good". Well, you could blow me away with a feather and I told her I really appreciated her compliment because up till now she has not commented on my practices for the nursing home gig at all.

We shall celebrate 50 years of marriage this summer and I must think of somehing awesome to show her how dear she is to me.

LIfe is great. Ray.

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:02 pm

Ensemble Name

Harry did not like the "dirty old man" connotation that could be associated with Los Viejos so I thought a bit about how to reflect the nature of our ensemble other than being mostly old guys. We love classical guitar and have become friends because of it. I like the use of a Spanish based name because of the connection with Segovia and the luthiers in that country.

I surfed a bit and found Los Amantes de la Guitarra, lovers of the guitar. This is suitable but wordy. So is, Los Amantes de la Musica.

Turning towards the "buddy" nature of our group, I found Los Compañeros. I like it as a concept and I have always liked the sound of that accent on the n. I sent it to Alex and Harry to see if they think the same.

Cheers all. Ray.

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:03 am

Greater Cincinnati Guitar Society Meeting

The session started with a rehearsal of the Ensemble piece that the Society will play at our May concert meeting which finishes the year. We worked on Bizet's Habañero (Carmen). It was the second play through for many (my first, and I took the bass line as the easiest). I will get practice playing syncopated staccato notes.

The floor was opened for anyone to play before the group. Alex and I played our duet pieces: Bach's Minuet and Trio, Fauré's Pavane 50 and Sakura. I was disappointed that despite practicing every day for many weeks on these three pieces, there were parts where my playing came apart. I write the experience off to good practice for performing. There is something about playing for an audience composed of students who have studied for 6 or more years and their teachers. Much as I tried to be cool, that is scary. And although I intended tonight to play Scarborough Fair solo, the duo misplays robbed my confidence so I will wait for the next session. It seems it will take more than a few weeks work to get these confidently polished.

A good thing from the evening, as more advanced players did their pieces it was quite stimulating to see their relaxed and quick hands and to hear the beauty of the notes. Robert Brown's student Ryan played Julia Florida, it was quite fluid even though he wants to work it more. Some day let that be me.

Cheers all. Ray.

Bill Doyle

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by Bill Doyle » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:06 pm

Hi Ray,

I haven't touched bases with you in a long time, but I actually do think of you often. Does that sound strange, given that we have never met? Your journal and your diligence in staying with classical guitar inspires me, simple as that. Once again, I am very appreciative of the way you have documented and shared the journey with all of Delcamp. I just caught up on your last several months of journal... congratulations on reaching 3 years and staying with it, and grandisimo felicidades for taking on your upcoming performance challenge. It would be terrifying for me, I hope less so for you. I was just looking and I cannot find any recordings you have made... I would truly appreciate hearing some of your best material, just to get a sense of where you are after 3 years.

I am now 14 months into my playing. I have not so far been able to discipline myself to learn to read standard notation... I tried for a month, made some progress, did not really enjoy it, stopped. I am now getting to the point where I not sure I will ever learn to sight read, but I have become quite proficient at using the standard notation for timing, tempo, and some information on dynamics and color. I combine that with tab (gasp!) and I am learning quite well. I know it is a handicap and limits my selections, but my playing is improving very steadily. I also don't focus on classical... I am always working on a new piece, and I rotate: flamenco, classical, blues, 2-3 popular tunes with vocals, and then start a new round. The material I have memorized is growing, my playing proficiency is continually improving, and I am finally learning to coordinate my voice with my playing (difficult!).

I am alone in my playing, motivated by the music... I love the music, and I enjoy practicing very much. In my practice sessions, I focus intently on correct classical technique. I have some great exercises, I keep a log of my progress, and I commit to daily and weekly written goals. The things really missing for me are: (1) No teachers where I live in Mexico, and (2) I don't have anyone to play with, and this is a major disadvantage... I can see how much you have grown through playing with others. I hope that after 3 years, I will be comfortable playing a variety of music for an hour or more in front of a small group... one of my major goals.

Saludos Cordiales,
BD

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Tue Mar 01, 2011 5:53 am

BD

Hi Bill! I don't think its strange that you think of me, the global reach of the Internet has made it very easy for people who share the same interests to connect. It has been my pleasure to reflect on the process of learning CG and I am astounded and glad that others find it of interest also.

I will see what I can do about getting a recording of a solo piece posted. Its not the playing that holds me back, its the technology of getting a quality, compact record done and putting it out. I'm really liking the way that Scarborough Fair is coming, and the Carcassi piece, so hopefully before too long you may get to hear that.

Your approach with logs and goals sounds very organized. I am glad you are enjoying the practice. I don't find tab all that bad, its fast and helps you learn fret positions. I was just looking at some lute music and what did I find? Lots of tab in those Dowland pieces. That said, I truly believe you will find knowing standard notation will be useful later after you get your playing going. So, don't give up on it yet.

I found my standard notation reading really jumped when Robert Brown gave me some First Position scales to play and he encouraged me to learn solfege. If you like I can send you some of those exercises. By the time you work through C major (no sharps and flats all the way to E major and their associated melodic and harmonic minor scales you will know how to read music. The exercises start with no tempo and work up to eighth notes.

Although online study with a teacher is feasible, and is better than no teacher contact, the sound quality is a limitation. Nevertheless, I do suggest again that you connect with Karl Wohlwend who is a very experienced classical guitarist and online teacher. Just look him up on Google and call him or email, he'll discuss with you no charge. Tell him I suggested that you call.

Ensemble playing has been wonderful, you don't want to let others down so you are really pushed to play as well as possible. That really helps you learn new things! Since there is no one nearby have you considered doing a summer workshop? That will give you total immersion and really jump start your playing. The CCM week is a really good deal too $275 that's it if you can also manage travel and room and board. Think about it, last week of July.

Great to hear about your 14 months work. Keep it up and stay in touch.

Best. Ray.

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Tue Mar 01, 2011 6:09 am

Metronome Practice

Worked the Bach Minuet and Trio piece from 60 bpm to 90. It sounded very mechanical at the lower tempos, but, at speed and thinking of it as a Court dance it started to sound more musical. The shifts in some of the phrases were troublesome at the Society session, so I really took my time today working those over and over and over. Trio practice tomorrow will reveal if it took hold.

Pavane 50 has some tricky timing in the triplets played in the time of one beat that leads into the eighth note phrases, so I kept the clicker working from slow to faster on that piece too.

New strings tonight

My Kenny Hill was showing copper spots at the fret locations on the bass strings and the nylons were frayed too. So I took off the Oasis carbon set, which I like a lot. It had punch and clarity on this guitar. I'm trying Savarez Corum which I just installed. Was thinking about lowering the action a small bit, but decided to leave it alone. The chords were coming out nicely with the current setup although there are moments when fretting at the 7th and 9th position I find my little finger gets trapped under the strings! Probably need an adjustment on my angle of attack with the pinky. Left the guitar tuned a whole step higher on each string for overnight. Should stretch out the strings enough for fair string stability in tomorrow's group practice.

I was pleased to hear one of the teachers query me on what kind of guitar I had, he said it sounded good last night. I do like the side sound holes on the upper bouts, it helps me hear my playing. I find that my Takamine cutaway is harder to hear so I find I would rather play the Kenny Hill most of the time. But, I do like the cutaway for its easier access to the high notes beyond the 12th fret.

Cheers all. Ray.

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:33 pm

Savarez Corum

Tuned up and played, was curious how the Savarez would sound. These are normal tension. They are different, sound clean, don't have the brilliance I heard in the Oasis set. Will have to play on them more to identify why they sound like they do. Not bad, just different.

Left Hand Strain

I may have overdone the practice recently, the LH is complaining by sending twinges on certain grip positions as I play. Will have to back off I think so I can play Friday.

Duo/Trio Pratice Today

We will rehearse the nursing home program from start to finish and videorecord for timing and edification as to how we sound.

Cheers all. Ray.
Last edited by rayjang on Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Bill Doyle

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by Bill Doyle » Tue Mar 01, 2011 5:48 pm

Hi Ray,

I would be very appreciative if you can send me the scale & sight reading exercises you refer to. I play scales every day and they are a huge help with my RH/LH coordination, speed, accuracy etc, but they are totally lacking in helping me to understand theory. Also, the lute compositions in TAB would be very fun to look at and tackle... where can I find those? I am currently working on Bach Aire on a G-String and Bach Cello Prelude, using both TAB and standard notation... I am surprising myself with my growing ability to memorize the music.... the gray matter must be exercised.

Saludos,
BD

rayjang

Re: Beginner's impressions

Post by rayjang » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:55 pm

BD

Check my pm to you.

Nursing Home Program

Los Compañeros did a program playthrough from A to Z and timed it. It was 29 minutes of music with no stopping to introduce the group or the pieces, so our actual presentation will be about 40 minutes. We listened to the recording and it sounds like music! On my Scarborough Fair solo I learned that it is very disconcerting to play with a guitar that is out of tune. Since we were recording for time I kept playing. On their first day of use the Savarez strings were settling down, but the high E was quite volatile. I think if that should ever happen again, I will stop playing, re-tune and re-start.

I learned that when you are playing a piece it seems to go quite quickly, however, on hearing it the tempo is not fast and some pieces actually take a long time to hear through with the many repeats involved (Minuet and Trio being a good example).

We felt it was a really good practice and will play the program tomorrow on site (without audience except for a few stray persons we think). By the time Friday gets here we should be good to go, if not good to perfection.

This is going to be fun.

Cheers all. Ray.

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