Can You Play a Simple Song?

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Rognvald
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Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:37 am

Twenty-First Century Guitar Pedagogy is an enigma to me. In my opinion, both teachers and students, alike, are on a one-track race course to move through the river of technique and repertoire to achieve guitaristic nirvana with the majority of students playing pieces well beyond their level and control. It is, in my opinion, counter-productive and a fraud to the student. However, you hear young guitarists mouthing "I'm playing Alhambra" . . . or,"Just finished Asturias". . . as if they were on a superhighway ticking off cities on their path. The problem for the serious student is that he reaches a level of technical competency to "finger" through pieces but, sadly, discovers he can't play a simple song well. It is because we do not focus on the importance of Music as a means to communicate feelings and emotions but rather see it, in a perverse way, of finger gymnastics. The testament to this is how many people "play" the CG but never make it out of the bedroom to a real performance. And, the reason they don't is that they can't play a simple song well. Are these the musings of a delusional Romantic or do you think this is valid? Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Wuuthrad
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Wuuthrad » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:42 am

Yup. I think classical guitarists should learn to improvise too. And chordally.

Also, in my sometimes humble opinion, I think that the rhythm and phrasing of many modern players I hear is lacking.

History of guitar music includes improvisation; I fail to see where and how this was lost in classical.

I think people should be dancing to the guitar, but many players remind me of a human piano roll...

Philosopherguy
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Philosopherguy » Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:53 am

Rognvald wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:37 am
Twenty-First Century Guitar Pedagogy is an enigma to me. In my opinion, both teachers and students, alike, are on a one-track race course to move through the river of technique and repertoire to achieve guitaristic nirvana with the majority of students playing pieces well beyond their level and control. It is, in my opinion, counter-productive and a fraud to the student. However, you hear young guitarists mouthing "I'm playing Alhambra" . . . or,"Just finished Asturias". . . as if they were on a superhighway ticking off cities on their path. The problem for the serious student is that he reaches a level of technical competency to "finger" through pieces but, sadly, discovers he can't play a simple song well. It is because we do not focus on the importance of Music as a means to communicate feelings and emotions but rather see it, in a perverse way, of finger gymnastics. The testament to this is how many people "play" the CG but never make it out of the bedroom to a real performance. And, the reason they don't is that they can't play a simple song well. Are these the musings of a delusional Romantic or do you think this is valid? Playing again . . . Rognvald
For someone who has Nietzsche in their signature, I would figure you would turn to Nietzsche for the answers to such a predicament! If you substitute "musician" for the word "philosopher" in some of his works, I believe what he talks about regarding philosophers may have a clear implication on the musician too, as they are both creators in a broad sense. As Nietzsche might say: the musician of tomorrow has always found himself in opposition to his today! There is also clearly a parallel you can imagine when Nietzsche compares the Academics with the Philosophers; the philosophers capable of creation and newness in the world, whereas the academics merely regurgitate the past.

Those in power in the musical world at the head of these competitions and making editorial decisions will not easily abdicate their position to be subservient to someone truly great.

Just food for thought!

Martin
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Rasputin
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rasputin » Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:39 am

I think that attacking material that is a little above your current level can be useful and inspiring, and that progress is likely to be slow if you only ever play what is already within your technical grasp. At the same time, I think it is important to play simpler pieces and focus on musicality. Most of us are fairly impatient, and I can readily understand that people may be more focused on moving forward and playing the iconic pieces than playing simple things well. I certainly think that teachers have a role to play in encouraging students to play the simpler pieces too, but I see no reason to brand them all as failing to do so.

I'm not sure you can learn musicality anyway. You can learn expression, but I think you have to know instinctively what to express. If you are just painting by numbers, you may get away with it a lot of the time - but sooner or later you will be caught out.

I am still surprised by how difficult it is to actually play the guitar. I never imagined that the practical side of it would be anything like as hard as it is. I think that many people are a bit like that, so tend tell themselves they can always polish up the expressive side once they've got the technical side down - the problem of course is that that point never comes, because over every ridge, there's another ridge.

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georgemarousi
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by georgemarousi » Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:19 am

Yes, I also maintain some simple songs.
I know I rushed to Asturias etc, but I also know I have to play more steadily simple songs too and work on that. I thing Bach helps by the way ( I mean the easier pieces )
As for improvisation, I believe it'a huge mistake that this it out of CG culture, my point of view. ( quite done that and will to come back to it at some point )
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kmurdick
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by kmurdick » Tue Nov 07, 2017 1:54 pm

I agree completely with the OP. Unfortunately, there are no published guitar methods out there that take into account how difficult the guitar really is. Aaron Shearer's is the closest, but even his goes too fast. Here''s the book I wrote: https://www.dropbox.com/s/b6ji87cif1cj4 ... l.PDF?dl=0

Even my book goes too fast. If I were teaching now, I would start the student with a pick. This would allow me to work with his right hand separately from reading and left hand development. There is a guy who does this and get very good results.

Rognvald
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:21 pm

I am truly impressed with the above sentiments. They represent the expressions of sentient beings who have traveled similar paths. Sadly, there are times when even the most hardened of us believe we are a feeble bleat in the deafening roar of the Herd. It gives comfort to know we are not alone. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Adrian Allan
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Adrian Allan » Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:30 pm

I agree with what you are saying, but how do we cure this "problem".

Should younger players need to undertake some sort of training on the subject of engaging general audiences?

And what format should that take - eg. they must take a residence at a restaurant playing popular requests?
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Traveller
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Traveller » Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:58 pm

I enjoy working on challenging pieces but when it comes time to play for others I have little to choose from. I need to reevaluate my priorities. Thanks to the op for the post.

Rognvald
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:40 am

Adrian Allan wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:30 pm
I agree with what you are saying, but how do we cure this "problem".

Should younger players need to undertake some sort of training on the subject of engaging general audiences?

And what format should that take - eg. they must take a residence at a restaurant playing popular requests?

Hi, Adrian,
I would like to address these remarks to you and Traveler based on your responses. In my opinion, CG's take a "backward first" approach to musical study and performance. The first goal of anyone studying an instrument should be to achieve a level of competence that would allow them to perform for others. Since Music IS communication, what is the purpose of intensive study if you never leave your bedroom or study and play to the same 4 walls? With whom are you communicating other than drywall or plaster? The reason I was attracted to Music was that I wanted a voice expressed in an artistic way and wanted to be able to say metaphorically: "This Is Me." So, my goal was performance. I had an advantage when I began studying the CG in that I was a well-advanced Saxophonist/Flutist who had been performing from an early age(early teens). I was a serious student, studied with two "world class" CG teachers and progressed more quickly than most students. I was also an adult with an agenda which gave me a focus that many younger players/students do not possess. Within two years, I began playing jobs in restaurants, wine tastings, weddings and wine festivals. My repertoire was very simple musically but I played it well. I had memorized half of my music and the rest I read from sheet music. As I progressed, my repertoire increased and became more sophisticated and many of my gigs included many CG standards. So, if your goal is performance, assemble 40 minutes of music you can play well and start banging on doors. You should never play more than two 40 minute sets with a 20-minute break and should have no problem repeating your program for the second set. This is a great introduction to performance since 1.) generally you are playing to Musical Neandertals, 2.) only a handful, if any, are listening, 3.) mistakes will generally never be heard and 4.) you get a paycheck at the end of the gig. However, it gives you confidence in playing before a group of people and you will not have the scrutiny that you would have in a dedicated CG concert where perhaps 10% of the audience has any music sensibility and the rest are just along for the ride. So, if you want to progress you have to be able to play a simple song. Play it cleanly, play it with expression and put your name on it. It gives you a starting point with a pathway to the future and gets you out of the bedroom and onto the stage. Play a simple song. And, NEVER PLAY FOR FREE!!! PLAYING AGAIN . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Rasputin
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rasputin » Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:41 am

or you can just get into the habit of recording yourself and not moving on until you have a recording you're happy with... happy enough to post it on here maybe.

Rick Hutt
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rick Hutt » Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:43 pm

I think a lot of this depends on how the guitarist is learning. If she has a good teacher, many of these issues can be explored in the learning process, that is, interpretation along with technique development. A good teacher will be able to suggest music that is challenging but consistent with the student's ability. A conversation can happen when beginning a new piece - historical, interpretative, technical, and in advanced students, a good form and analysis. This is hard to duplicate when one is learning on one's own,
I agree that music is communication. It's certainly why I started studying guitar and later began serious vocal training. But some folks simply enjoy the process of learning and playing music. I had a student years ago who had very good technical skill and musical sensibility, but who really did not care to perform publicly. I once had him play with me at a wedding, and he didn't mind it, but said he's prefer not to perform in public again. So you know, all kind of reasons for becoming a musician.
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Rasputin
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rasputin » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:02 pm

Rick Hutt wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:43 pm
So you know, all kind of reasons for becoming a musician.
Yabsolutely. Even for those who do enjoy performing I don't think it can be the whole story. Imagine you were stranded on a desert island with no hope of rescue but (oddly, you may think) a guitar and all the necessary paraphernalia. Would you really see no point in playing it with nobody to hear you and no future performances to be ready for? If so, our reasons really are very different!

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Adrian Allan
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Adrian Allan » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:18 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:40 am
Adrian Allan wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:30 pm
I agree with what you are saying, but how do we cure this "problem".

Should younger players need to undertake some sort of training on the subject of engaging general audiences?

And what format should that take - eg. they must take a residence at a restaurant playing popular requests?

Hi, Adrian,
I would like to address these remarks to you and Traveler based on your responses. In my opinion, CG's take a "backward first" approach to musical study and performance. The first goal of anyone studying an instrument should be to achieve a level of competence that would allow them to perform for others. Since Music IS communication, what is the purpose of intensive study if you never leave your bedroom or study and play to the same 4 walls? With whom are you communicating other than drywall or plaster? The reason I was attracted to Music was that I wanted a voice expressed in an artistic way and wanted to be able to say metaphorically: "This Is Me." So, my goal was performance. I had an advantage when I began studying the CG in that I was a well-advanced Saxophonist/Flutist who had been performing from an early age(early teens). I was a serious student, studied with two "world class" CG teachers and progressed more quickly than most students. I was also an adult with an agenda which gave me a focus that many younger players/students do not possess. Within two years, I began playing jobs in restaurants, wine tastings, weddings and wine festivals. My repertoire was very simple musically but I played it well. I had memorized half of my music and the rest I read from sheet music. As I progressed, my repertoire increased and became more sophisticated and many of my gigs included many CG standards. So, if your goal is performance, assemble 40 minutes of music you can play well and start banging on doors. You should never play more than two 40 minute sets with a 20-minute break and should have no problem repeating your program for the second set. This is a great introduction to performance since 1.) generally you are playing to Musical Neandertals, 2.) only a handful, if any, are listening, 3.) mistakes will generally never be heard and 4.) you get a paycheck at the end of the gig. However, it gives you confidence in playing before a group of people and you will not have the scrutiny that you would have in a dedicated CG concert where perhaps 10% of the audience has any music sensibility and the rest are just along for the ride. So, if you want to progress you have to be able to play a simple song. Play it cleanly, play it with expression and put your name on it. It gives you a starting point with a pathway to the future and gets you out of the bedroom and onto the stage. Play a simple song. And, NEVER PLAY FOR FREE!!! PLAYING AGAIN . . . Rognvald
I agree with what you are saying - I also spent a number of years playing at restaurants and during the process I learnt how to instinctively read the mood of the audience, and adjust my playing to suit.

However, I fear that performing opportunities, even informal ones, are limited - we have become a society of digital downloads. And thus many technically excellent players only have experience of very controlled and sterile exam conditions or masterclasses, and the whole potential to reach out to a more general audience is completely missed. Sadly, the way to go seems to be to get a lot of views on Youtube, and we are all slaves to a virtual world of clicking and listening through headphones. It's a poor compromise, but better than never being seen or heard at all.
D'Ammassa Spruce/Spruce Double Top

kmurdick
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by kmurdick » Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:52 pm

Look, we all know that everything good in this world is rapidly drying up and evaporating like of puddle of water in the hot sun. Nothing we can do about that. But you can collect a simple repertoire and play it perfectly. Try those old Tuechert (sp?) books of renaissance and baroque music. There is a half an hour of good music right there and if you write simple divisions and variations to each piece, you can stretch it out a bit. Parkening's Book 2 (don't use it as a method) has a wonderful collection of nice easy pieces that sound terrific.

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