We are going to talk about the minimum time you need to devote to the study of the guitar, about the position for holding the guitar, and finally about some techniques, exercises and pieces.
Timetable for the fourth year student:
In order to progress, you need a little time each day for 6 days of the week. Here is the minimum necessary for players of this level :
3 days when you can devote 20 minutes to repeating each difficult passage 9 to 16 times. I'll indicate these difficult passages to you by putting a box (a rectangular border) around them.
3 days when you can devote 50 minutes to studying the guitar, made up of
- 20 minutes practicing the difficult (boxed) passages,
- 15 minutes repeating the individual phrases several times in succession (3 to 6 times)
- and finally 15 minutes playing the piece or pieces in full.
Note that you must play for 6 days of the week. If you combine all this time into one day, that is to say, 3 hours 30 minutes in a single day, you will not make progress and furthermore you will risk injuring yourself by making demands on certain muscles for too long. Divide up your practice and play a little each day.
Spend most of your practice time on the parts you have trouble playing: difficult passages, difficult phrases. Only play pieces the whole way through once or twice a week.
So we understand one another properly, here is an example of a timetable where sessions alternate between 15 and 40 minutes:
Monday 50 minutes
Tuesday 20 minutes
Wednesday 50 minutes
Thursday 20 minutes
Friday 50 minutes
Saturday 20 minutes
The position for the classical guitar is the product of past experience. The classical position enables us to reduce effort to a minimum, and has arisen from a compromise between the needs for stability, comfort and the efficient use of both hands.
The principles of this position are:
sitting position, back straight, shoulders level,
the guitar rests on whichever thigh is on the neck side.
We raise the head of the guitar level with our head, with the aid of a footstool or of a support placed on the thigh.
The hand which plays the strings is placed over the sound hole, the elbow rests on the edge of the body of the guitar, level with the bridge.
The arm on the neck side is bent to bring the hand up to the height of the shoulder, the thumb is placed behind the neck, beneath the second fret and behind the third string, the fingers are over the strings.
Try to achieve relaxation, from the shoulders right down to the hands.
Finally, choose a chair of a height that allows your thigh to be horizontal, so that your guitar will be supported in a
stable manner. If your thigh is angled in one direction or the other, your guitar will slip and interfere with your playing.
Let us start with a little exercise to warm up the hands:
bend the fingers several times from the first (large) joint
bend them at the middle joint
bend at the middle joint until the fingertips touch the palm, then (maintaining contact with the palm) draw the fingertips as far up as possible before stretching the fingers out again.
Slide the thumb along the length of each of the four fingers in turn
Slide each of the four fingers in turn along the thumb.
Next we will look at, or revise, pages 26 and 58 of volume D01
- page 26 of volume D01 : Jean-François DELCAMP (1956) POLYPHONIE - Apoyando
- page 58 of volume D01 : Jean-François DELCAMP (1956) BUTÉ - APOYANDO - REST STROKE - APOYANDO
These exercises will work upon the technique of simultaneous rest strokes (apoyando) with the thumb and index finger, and also with the thumb and middle finger.
The rest stroke is a way to play the string with a finger movement which plucks the string and then continues to move until it comes to rest on the adjacent string. Working on this technique will allow you to discover the best position for your plucking hand (the right hand if you are right-handed).
If you are already used to plucking the strings with free strokes, the simultaneous rest strokes with the thumb and a finger will seem difficult to you, even impossible. But be assured, with patience and perseverence, this difficulty will be resolved in 30 minutes. I know from experience that the first tries are truly discouraging, particularly for adults. It is for this reason that I wish to reassure you in advance, take heart, you will be able to do it.
Let us now look at some exercises from volume D04.
- Page 126 Jean-François DELCAMP (1956) STRING DAMPING
These techniques are essential in polyphonic playing. Guitar playing is unique in that we must stop the resonances, in particular those of the open strings. Without these string damping techniques, polyphony is blurred by dissonance.
Finally, we'll look at 4 pieces, pages 65, 87, 91 and 102.
- page 65 Giuliani, Mauro Allegro opus 50 n°13
In these arpeggios, be careful to maintain the stability of your right hand. The right-hand fingering is typical of arpeggios in that the "a" finger plays the first string, the "m" finger plays the second, the "i" finger plays the third, and the thumb plays the 3 bass strings. In this piece, the melody is in the bass.
- page 91 Tárrega, Francisco Estudio ostinato, en la mayor
To bring out the two voices in this little piece, play legato for the melody in the bass, and staccato for the repeated phrase (ostinato) in semiquavers (16th notes).
- page 102 Foret, Stéphanie Bretonneuse
Bars 17, 18, 21 and 22: the small quavers (8th notes) with a line through them are acciaccaturas http://www.dolmetsch.com/musictheory23.htm#grace . Here the acciaccaturas are played by sliding rapidly with the finger indicated from the small note to the normal-sized note. The line linking the two notes represents this slide.
You will see that each phrase consists of a total of 8 measures. The bass line is made up of two notes: A (the dominant) and D (the tonic). Bretonneuse is in the Dorian mode. Vary the tone used so that you never play two phrases in succession with the same tone.
I ask you first to work on all these exercises and pieces for one week and then to post your recordings on the forum for:
- page 58 (D01) : Jean-François DELCAMP (1956) BUTÉ - APOYANDO - REST STROKE - APOYANDO
- page 126 (D04) Delcamp, Jean-François Terminer - Fermare - Damp – Apagar
- page 91 (D04) Tárrega, Francisco Estudio ostinato, en la mayor
- page 102 (D04) Foret, Stéphanie Bretonneuse
I thank Geoff (GeoffB) who has helped in the translation of my lessons into English.
Exam qualifying submissions:
BUTÉ - APOYANDO - REST STROKE - APOYANDO
Terminer - Fermare - Damp – Apagar
Estudio ostinato, en la mayor
Hi everyone. I would like to thank Mr. Delcamp for the lessons he provides and the moderators on this forum who have helped me during last years course! Looking back, my playing has improved a lot and I am looking forward for this years lesson.
Looking at the D04 lessons it seems the work load has increased quiet a bit. I wish everyone participating a good start!
Angela Zhao wrote:Hi classmates:
This is my assignments
Hi Angela. Congratulations for your recordings. Looks like you have been busy during the summer. They all sound good. On the Estudio ostinato you could try to play a bit more staccato and let the bass notes ring out. Its quit hard on that one stretch.
Dennis Stewart wrote:
On the Estudio ostinato you could try to play a bit more staccato and let the bass notes ring out. Its quit hard on that one stretch.
I saw you are also on the D05 lessons. Good luck.
Thank you watch my video, yes ,you are right,On the Estudio ostinato,the teacher play with staccato, I try it, but not all note make it, somtimes my finger can't get the string, so my fingers need more extension. Now I practice extension practice everyday ,hope I can get improve.
Thank you very much!
Hi, here are my videos for this lesson. On the Estudio ostinato i found it impossible for me to play the G# in bar 5 and let it ring. Everytime i tried, i experienced pain in my wrist. I am not sure if i am doing something wrong. I hope i will be able to improve on the stretches...
Dennis - Sounds very good. That Estudio Ostinato is a tough one! My forearm is always well warmed up after trying it. One thing I noticed is you really bend your wrist a lot to make that stretch from G# on the 3rd string, which puts a lot of strain on all those delicate tendons in there. You may want to try keeping your wrist more flat, like on the rest of your playing and rotating the elbow or even your shoulder way down under the neck of the guitar. I find that if I really exaggerate the movement by getting my elbow under the neck, it helps. I'm finding the tough part is the flexibilty/independent mobility - or lack of - between my 3rd and 4th fingers. One practice drill I'm trying is to root my 1st finger on the 3rd string A, and work my 3rd and 4th fingers up across the fretboard from the 6th string to the 1st string and back again - kind of spidering it along on the 4th and 5th frets. After doing this with my 1st finger anchored on the A, I move it back to the G# and try again. Doing this and practicing different elbow and shoulder locations is really loosening things up. Hope that's useful! Take care and looking forward to more....and I'll post my versions in a day or two!
Hi Andrew. Thanks a lot for the advice. Your are right, i really bend my wrist too much. I will let it rest for a bit and then try again in a week or so. Also that "spidering" excercise seems to be an excellent idea.
Posting my attempt at Estudio Ostinato. I find this one notoriously tough and realize it is going to be a long term endeavor to get any musicality out of it. I can't tell you how many "takes" i had to try to even get this one! Ni modo...