Studies vs Music

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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For discussion of studies, scales, arpeggios and theory.
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DTut
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Studies vs Music

Postby DTut » Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:21 pm

I've been thinking about my goals as an amateur. My teacher has recommended that I work through some of the standard studies we all know of. What is the benefit of plowing through studies when your goal is to play pieces that you really like? Couldn't you just focus on the techniques required of that certain piece? If you're having problems with a section couldn't you just step back and work on some exercises that will get you through that piece. Again, I am not a performer or college student.

Thanks for any input. Dave
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MarkL
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby MarkL » Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:02 pm

I have been thinking the same way for quite some time. Previously I have taken the view that if the studies are so widely prescribed, that method must be correct, so have not done what Dave is suggesting. The more I read Dave's post the more I think I will try and play this way. Find a piece, and make exercises from the tricky bits. Hopefully a more focussed approach will help me learn it more effectively.

Love to hear what some of our forum teachers say...

Mark

Bill B
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby Bill B » Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:06 pm

I think that studies are great for presenting techniques in a logical manner, at appropriate levels. You could build technique just from playing appropriate concert pieces if you wish. There is nothing magical about playing from a collection of etudes.
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Luuttuaja
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby Luuttuaja » Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:29 pm

It's very hard for me to guess what sort of music I want to play when I have practiced, for example 2 more years. I think sticking to "basic stuff" early in the guitar studies could give some overview about what different sort of styles, time periods, special techniques etc. there are out there.

Salvador
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby Salvador » Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:05 am

My teacher's lessons and how long it would take, depends on the student. But during that lessons, he give his students some rewards by teaching them some easy pieces that they like so they won't get bored.

Since i already know fingerpicking and can sight read a bit. It took him like 6 months to teach me. He taught me 12 pieces to learn. Those pieces are enough to cover all i need to learn in classical guitar. After that he finished the lesson, so that i can learn on my own.

My teacher doesn't like to waste time in making more lessons if the student is already good, and knowledgeable.. It's a waste of time for the student and for him also. He is very aware if the lessons took so long to finish, the student will get bored and quit.

Lovemyguitar
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby Lovemyguitar » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:36 am

Well, the thing is, some studies are music, it is not either-or. Are you perhaps referring to purely technical exercises, rather than musical pieces of progressing difficulty through which one can learn the basic techniques? You called them "the standard studies we all know of", but I don't know what you mean. Sor studies (some of which are super-hard and very musical)? Villa-Lobos studies (ditto)?

I learned almost entirely by playing pieces, not exercises, and although some of those pieces were called "studies" or "lessons", they were so lovely and fun to play that I never felt like I was playing a "study" or an "exercise" -- I felt as if I was playing "music" right from the start (of course, I did not start out trying to play something extremely difficult like Henze's Royal Winter Music Sonata -- I worked my way up to advanced repertoire). Most graded repertoire books (I used the RCM series as a student -- I did have a teacher through all the grades) contain all sorts of very nice and musical pieces that make learning fun and easy, if one is inclined to play pieces and avoid repetitive exercises. By the time you get up to grade 4 or 5 level pieces, there are a few "concert" pieces that begin to appear, which is exciting and helps to motivate one! So, you can most definitely learn just by playing "music", but it does rather depend on your definitions and expectations.

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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby BellyDoc » Fri Mar 03, 2017 3:06 am

^This.

Studies are short pieces of music. I love the Sor studies I'm working through. I find them musically beautiful, and each one has some jewel, sometimes several, of technical knowledge to impart. Furthermore, judging by how more experienced and educated lovers of music find brilliance in these to talk about, I have no doubt I'll be coming back to appreciate them forever.

I'm not up to a recital yet, but if I were, I would be proud to present multiple beginning Sor studies for an audience based on musical merit alone. To be able to execute these with enough technical proficiency that my love for the music could be communicated would be an honor.
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tormodg
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby tormodg » Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:38 am

Salvador wrote:. It took him like 6 months to teach me. He taught me 12 pieces to learn. Those pieces are enough to cover all i need to learn in classical guitar. After that he finished the lesson, so that i can learn on my own.


I think this is a too simplistic view of what lessons (and learning) consists of. Lessons are not the scaffolding outside a building, to be taken away when the building is complete. Rather, they form the structure inside the walls that enable the walls to stand and keep the building strong over time.

I still take occasional lessons after decades of playing. Having a teacher guide my efforts is an essential part of the pleasure of playing classical guitar. I will never know "all I need to learn", as there is no such thing as a "sum of all knowledge about guitar". By playing and learning over time we gain experience and insight which no teacher can give you, but which a good teacher can help you find.

I also think it's important to approach etudes as musical pieces rather than chores. Playing only the pieces you want to practice will limit your abilities, just like karate students won't get good by only practising one type of strike.
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Alan Green
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby Alan Green » Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:01 am

A performance piece will invariably utilise many technical skills; a Study is written to develop a specific skill which you might use in a hundred tunes. You'll benefit from playing the studies before diving into the performance piece.

Salvador
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby Salvador » Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:30 pm

tormodg wrote:
Salvador wrote:. It took him like 6 months to teach me. He taught me 12 pieces to learn. Those pieces are enough to cover all i need to learn in classical guitar. After that he finished the lesson, so that i can learn on my own.


I think this is a too simplistic view of what lessons (and learning) consists of. Lessons are not the scaffolding outside a building, to be taken away when the building is complete. Rather, they form the structure inside the walls that enable the walls to stand and keep the building strong over time.

I still take occasional lessons after decades of playing. Having a teacher guide my efforts is an essential part of the pleasure of playing classical guitar. I will never know "all I need to learn", as there is no such thing as a "sum of all knowledge about guitar". By playing and learning over time we gain experience and insight which no teacher can give you, but which a good teacher can help you find.

I also think it's important to approach etudes as musical pieces rather than chores. Playing only the pieces you want to practice will limit your abilities, just like karate students won't get good by only practising one type of strike.


Yes i agree. Before i studied classical guitar, i have experience already in terms of fingerpicking and guitar plucking, so i am not a complete beginner anymore. I can also read notes and play by ear.

Those pieces are not simple pieces. In order: Etude 1 Villa-lobos, Etude 2 Villa-lobos, Recuerdos, Choro 1 Villa-lobos, Leyenda, La Catedral, Gavotte in Rondeau Bach, Variations On A Theme by Mozart, Valse 3 Barrios, Sueno En La Floresta, El Ultimo Tremolo, Prelude 1006 Bach.

I did not play them perfectly though and on normal tempo only. But i played them slowly but effectively with the guidance of my teacher. After 6 months i continue to improve them, increased the tempo, improved the playing, the musicality.

There's still more pieces actually like Capricho, Fugue 1001, Serenata, and the sight reading pieces, but those 12 pieces are the main lessons. These lessons were intended for me only and not his other students.

All i need to learn is, during that time, that was 17 years ago. I wish my teacher could have taught me more of Rodrigo, Paganini etc., but the lack of resources, like books, videos, the accuracy of scores and their fingerings are the problem. So he don't know how to play it. I just continue on my own to improve and learn more.

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twang
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby twang » Fri Mar 03, 2017 4:06 pm

Pieces only have so much "essence". If you love the piece why use up it's essence learning technique?
"An amateur is he who takes up the study of an instrument as a relaxation from his serious occupations." -- Sor

2handband
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby 2handband » Fri Mar 03, 2017 4:11 pm

Neither method is wrong. That's essentially how I taught myself rock guitar when I was a teenager; by taking stuff I couldn't play and making exercises out of it. Be warned that most people DO NOT have the patience for what that sometimes entails so your mileage may vary; I had no problem spending three weeks banging on the same two measure lick for 2-4 hours a day until I got it up to speed. If you can't handle that, don't try this method of learning.

Besides, rock guitar is a bit different. Nobody records their music with amateur playability in mind, you know. Since most players (myself included) are allergic to non-musical exercises I have this whole list of tunes for rock students to work on at various levels, but a student's tastes can render the whole thing useless. For instance early Kiss is absolutely great for a beginning rock soloist; the solos are easy to play and give your bends and vibrato a great workout. But what if a student hates Kiss? There's not a whole plethora of other stuff to choose from.

With classical you have this huge body of student-oriented work and a great deal of it IS music... often very good music. I find it hard to believe that you can't find studies on your level that you would enjoy playing. Get Frederick Noad's 100 Classical Solos. I don't always like Noad's editorial choices but the study notes are good and the music INCREDIBLY well chosen. Except for Study #1 (which isn't really even a solo and I'm not sure why it was included) there is not a single piece in there that I don't enjoy playing. You might keep using the harder pieces as exercises and devote some of your practice time to that, but these studies will allow you to focus on specific points of technique at a level closer to where you are at and will also allow you to quickly build a repertoire so you have stuff you can actually play right now.

I personally am mostly concentrating on learning some larger pieces right now, but next year I am diving into all 36 of Legnani's caprices.

Dirck Nagy
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby Dirck Nagy » Fri Mar 03, 2017 5:56 pm

Hi Dave

We know each other...I didnt realize you were on this forum! (I was in Greeley from 1993-2001)

Who are you studying with now? Is Steve Waechter still in the area?

r.e. etudes: I don't really remember your playing, so forgive me if i'm saying obvious things! Etudes are the "first musical context" of a specific technique. I don't think there is anything really wrong with making etudes out of your repertoire pieces, but I think you'd have to be very careful: Since these pieces were written for a purely musical goal, there are likely some parts which are much easier or harder than others. It would not be the most time - efficient way to learn a technique, and you'd run a high risk of frustration. You might end up abandoning pieces you have spent a lot of time on.

You might want to try to identify the most difficult parts of your repertoire pieces first...? This way, you'd be able to judge for yourself if working them up would be realistic.

cheers!
dirck
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MarkL
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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby MarkL » Fri Mar 03, 2017 6:25 pm

Salvador wrote:He taught me 12 pieces to learn.



Is it possible to list those pieces? Would love to know what they were :)

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Re: Studies vs Music

Postby Luis_Br » Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:01 pm

I think it doesn't matter being an amateur or whatever, the target with a teacher is to develop and learn. A teacher may teach through exercises or through pieces or studies, I recommend you follow his way, his experienced way of teaching. Some experienced teacher might change a bit the approach according to the student's way of thinking. Talk to your teacher, if you don't like his way you may try another one. But you should trust the teacher. Sometimes you do other stuff that will sooner get you to your goal. Certainly the pieces you like and try to play are very difficult to you, or you wouldn't try a teacher, would you?
On the specific point, I think you can practice any piece you like, making out exercises of the parts you can't play well, for around 3 months. If in 3 months you don't master it, it is better you leave it there and go to other stuff. If you keep repeating, you reinforce your bad habits into poor reflexes. After too much repetition you loose control. It is better to play a new piece that will refresh your patterns and you have the opportunity to rebuild your skills. With a complete new piece you will see some different things, you will play better. Then around 6 months later you may do another 3 months try with the previous piece. With my last teacher, I said him I would do anything to "fix" my faulty technique. I said I was an amateur, I didn't need to keep a repertoire, I could do it again from scratch if necessary, but I had already some intermediary to advanced level. So he asked me to never play any piece I have tried before. We practiced only new pieces.
If you have a good teacher or you know your current level, it is better not to miss the 3 month try. If you know you won't master the piece in 3 months, try another one before, because in long-term you will become frustrated you practice so much but you can't master anything. As 2handband said, the repertoire is huge, from renaissance and baroque, to classical, modern or even folk-style pieces, if you are a real amateur (you do it because you love it), you will find several nice pieces to work with in your current level.


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