Simon

Simon

  • Hi Ronin,

    Sure, I have just the thing for you:

    4 Templates for Classical Guitar Practice Sessions

    Hope it proves useful!

  • Hi Alan, thanks for the message I love how you express yourself here.

    Proust found that “art” (and I agree the term is ambiguous) was something that helps us momentarily live in the present. It wakes us up from daily life and provides a glimpse of something more precious and special.

    This idea reminds me of when we travel. When we travel…[Read more]

  • Hi John,

    Good to hear from you! I share a similar experience to the dedication/obsession you describe (and I also love the smell of the guitar!) but in recent years I have struggled a bit to maintain the same level of dedication that I had while I was a full time student. I have found this little exercise helpful. I often do a short version in…[Read more]

  • Hi Steve, that sounds like a great practice ritual and I totally agree that whatever works for your own learning style is the best.

  • Hi Victor,

    Thanks for sharing your story. It reminds me a bit of the quote by the famous cellist, Pablo Casals who at the age of 81 was asked why he continued to practice: “Because I think I am making progress” he said.

  • Hi John,

    Thanks for your comment, and I hear what you are saying. I don’t mean to come across as preachy, but I understand how it might be read that way. I try my best to be clear in my writing but perhaps I fell short. The intention here is to offer some inspiration to check in on priorities, to re-focus on what is important to us in case it has…[Read more]

  • Somehow, in this post I have managed to tie in Marcel Proust, Winston Churchill, and your practice habits… it may be a little vague now, but I hope you will be with me by the end.

    Over the last few days I […]

    • I liked your post but I knew it didn’t apply to me because the guitar is about all I do. I kept reading and it made me wonder why I was so dedicated. But I realized that I am not dedicated. Rather, I just want to do it: feel it in my hands, hear just the right sound, work to get my fingers to do exactly what I want them to do. And then there is the smell of the wood when I open the case. So, art and priorities? Never think of them; too busy with the guitar itself.

      I find the guitar so difficult that I can’t imagine my getting anywhere with it if I had to make time for it. On the other hand, there is that story about John Williams’ practicing only 1/2 hour a day. With all that extra time I suppose he could have become a brain surgeon and astronaut.

      Keep up the good work.

      Regards

      • Hi John,

        Good to hear from you! I share a similar experience to the dedication/obsession you describe (and I also love the smell of the guitar!) but in recent years I have struggled a bit to maintain the same level of dedication that I had while I was a full time student. I have found this little exercise helpful. I often do a short version in notebooks when I can. It helps me keep on track.

    • I think my habits are the other way around.
      The weeds keep staring at me, like asking when are you going to do the weeding?.
      On my advanced years (retired), sometimes I ask myself: Why I bother learning guitar, is so hard, I can’t see making progress, .
      My answer of course, what else I do to fill my time?
      Is challenging, yes, so I think after a few years I am really in love with it, I touch it everyday, feeling and hearing it (even if not perfect), and hopefully one day improvements will show, or die trying.
      Cheers

      • Hi Victor,

        Thanks for sharing your story. It reminds me a bit of the quote by the famous cellist, Pablo Casals who at the age of 81 was asked why he continued to practice: “Because I think I am making progress” he said.

    • Practicing guitar is very important to me. I do practice at least 2 hours in the morning every day and I practice duets with my partner usually twice a week for 3 to 4 hours. I have lesson with my guitar instructor for 1 hour for duet and 30 minutes for solo music once every two weeks. I also practice ukulele in the evenings. I seldom watch TV or video, just listens to some podcasts since I have insomnia. I go to aerobics class 3 times a week which are very important to keep me sane. I walk or bike when weather permits and do gardening during summer, I paint or make collage, listento music and try to read but doing less so because of failing eye sight. All these activities are very important to me, but by far, time wise, practicing guitar is weighted very heavily in my current life. I am so in love with guitar.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment, and I hear what you are saying. I don’t mean to come across as preachy, but I understand how it might be read that way. I try my best to be clear in my writing but perhaps I fell short. The intention here is to offer some inspiration to check in on priorities, to re-focus on what is important to us in case it has become obscured by other habits. By no means do I presume to know everyone’s situation, but I hope for some people it will prove a positive exercise, whether priorities are musical or not.

      Best wishes,
      Simon

    • Hi Steve, that sounds like a great practice ritual and I totally agree that whatever works for your own learning style is the best.

    • It’s true we all have only 24 hours in a day, and we decide how to use them no matter how much we protest that our time expenditures are dictated. We set our priorities every moment with what we do. I’m learning classical guitar to have music in my life. I don’t have music, but I value it. Only I don’t value it enough to listen and engage in it. In the car, I listen to podcasts. While I’m cooking, I look at youtube cooking videos. Choices. My husband will pick up his guitar in any spare moment; while I’m taking a shower or fixing dinner, whenever. He is always listening to music and people talking about music, and he’s always looking at guitars and people talking about guitars. It’s choices. Maybe I don’t desire that level of commitment, but I want something, some music.

    • Thanks for this Simon. I’ve been a musician in some form or another all my life, and have gone through numerous cycles of musical energy and activity, followed by stepping away from music for a period of time.

      One reason I joined CGC was to help me focus by following a specific structured curriculum with goals. Hopefully I can keep on track with my music – but I have bookmarked this post just in case! :-)

      Ken

    • Simon,

      I agree with your premise: we have to find out what is important to us and then learn how to focus on those things without distraction. This will bring us the greatest joy in our lives. Some might see what you are saying as an either/or proposition, but it is not. Even in very important things, such as our work, there are practices or habits that waste time, keeping us from completing our work tasks quickly and efficiently, and therefore keeping us from the rest of our priorities. This is especially true when we try to “multi-task.”

      Another way to get at what is important to you is to keep a gratitude journal. When we think about what we are grateful for, we start to identify something that is of value to us. If we only think about what we did in the past week, we might miss something that is very important to us but neglected. When we know what is important to us and we take the time to examine how we spend our time, as you suggest with your exercise, we can begin to decide how to “make” time for music.

      There are many things that put demands on our time, things we must do. But if you devoted just 5% of your time each day to something you really loved, you would be gifting yourself 1.2 hours toward that endeavor (or 45 minutes if you only wanted to count your waking hours).

      My family helped me rediscover my love for making music when they gave me a left handed guitar to compensate for an injury to my left hand that made it too difficult to press the fingerboard. In my gratitude (and for my joy) I try to play daily and to improve. This is a propiority for me. CGC and this community are great tools to help me along the way. Thank you, Simon, and the CGC community.

    • Hi Alan, thanks for the message I love how you express yourself here.

      Proust found that “art” (and I agree the term is ambiguous) was something that helps us momentarily live in the present. It wakes us up from daily life and provides a glimpse of something more precious and special.

      This idea reminds me of when we travel. When we travel we often look on simple things with wonder. A street sign in another language, a new way of preparing coffee, or a slightly different kind of toilet. These moments are memorable in travel because we don’t have time to make them mundane.

      Art, be it music, fine art, theatre, poetry or otherwise, has this ability to pierce normality and wake us up from our day to day.

      Pursuing these moments can become quite addictive, and I wonder if it might be the reason behind an artists’ sense of vocation.

      For amateur musicians I think the joy can be a mix of things. The first being a heightened sense of appreciation when listening, and the second being involvement in the process when they play themselves. Come to think of it, amateur or not, this is a big part of any musicians’ joy!

      • I have always enjoyed seeing the skillful practice their profession. They make art, as you suggest, Simon, by being fully present and in the moment of their work.

    • Hi Ronin,

      Sure, I have just the thing for you:

      4 Templates for Classical Guitar Practice Sessions

      Hope it proves useful!

    • This is a great discussion. As db wrote, some might see what you are saying as an either/or situation, but I don’t see that way. Everyone should take as much time as they can – if they want – to put music in their lives. Depending on one’s work load, that may be more or less – I know that myself. But if we can make regular practice a part of our life when starting to learn an instrument, if we can add it to our daily schedule as much as drinking coffee or tea in the morning, we won’t want to miss the feeling of holding a guitar in our arms. Even when the workload is high, a bit of music can clear the mind and that itself is worth the time! Music is a wonderful way to enrich life.

    • Thanks Simon, and everyone else for an enlivening discussion.

      But before all you Proustians drift away in a Gauloise haze, there’s a twist to the habit story.

      Proust did indeed praise the virtues of ‘defamiliarisation’ over the dead weight of stale habit. But he was also smart enough to recognise that some habits were full of nourishment, and as the novel goes on, these special habits gather in significance. Probably the best word in English for them is ‘rituals’. There’s a world of difference in the metaphors Proust employs to distinguish the two. Habit is all surface, as Simon suggests, like a patina that dulls the look and sense of things. Rituals are life-giving, connecting us to one another across time: they link the past to the present and future. To play Sor with a full heart is to share in a ritual. So too is struggling with descending slurs: you’re not the first, and you won’t be the last.

      Cheers,
      Adrian

    • Perhaps I’m being a bit contrarian Simon. I find it is neither about the music or the art at this stage. I accept that this is hard work. P’raps the best I can hope for, artistically, is to entertain the grandchildren. What I do get though, is the opportunity to be selfish with my time, occasionally impress by self when an exercise comes together, and revel in a space where nothing else matters. If I can put myself in that space I’m in bliss. Maybe one day Twinkle Twinkle won’t sound like Baa Baa Black Sheep, but until then every moment spent hacking at the guitar will still be rapturous. Thanks for providing the vehicle to get me there.

      • Wow Mark, I couldn’t have said it any better! I enjoy just making noise, because at this point I’m not making music yet, purely for the joy of making it. Like you and others have called it, practice is still ‘work’ for me, but t’s fun work. I have no delusions of anyone ever mistaking me for a musician, except perhaps my mother should she live long enough, but I will have developed a deeper appreciation of beautiful music when I hear it played by talented musicians because of the time I spend trying to learn the craft myself.

    • Engaging article. It reminded me of a few quotes:

      If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.

      People don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan.

    • Hello to everyone and thanks to all of you and Simon for this thought provoking discussion.

      It is obvious to me that there are many views and ideas about this topic – probably as many as there are people here to discuss it. I hear and agree with most of you and resonate with many. Having said that, I particularly understand and sympathize with those of you who feel that time and life situations prevent them from following through with their dreams and desires. In my opinion, that can be to a certain extent quite true. But as I have discovered in my life, what is also true, is that in reality there is time in everyone’s day that can be reallocated toward doing something else. I am in no way saying this as a judgment but as a statement of what I have found to be true. Let me explain.

      I will attempt to make a very long tale as short as possible. I have always been that very busy person who had a great love for art and music but always seemed to find something else to do that was “more important” than what my heart wanted to do. I would tell myself that I would get to it tomorrow or next week or… This went on for years with the amount of time not doing these things far exceeding my actually time spent doing them. I sort of squeaked by with these soul practices – seeming to do just enough to keep me from going nuts. Fast forward ahead to eight years ago when I awoke to find myself extremely sick (antibiotic induced Guillaume Barre). I was in severe pain and paralyzed up to my hips. Needless to say this changed my life drastically and forever. My road back toward health has been long and arduous but I find myself currently able to do most things and live a “normal” life. About a year ago (2016 resolution of sorts) I made the decision to reintroduce back into my life the things that I love, the things that had always made my heart sing. I knew that at the time a commitment to learning the guitar would be too much for me so I chose joining a book club and committing to read more classics (which I always loved). I knew I would have to somehow find the time in my very busy life (I was now back to work full time again along with all of life’s other daily responsibilities). What I did worked so well for me that I made the commitment to do it again this year. I decided after many months of contemplation that this year I would commit to learning the guitar, I felt ready for it and signed up on Thanksgiving of last year with the view of getting established in my routine by the first of this year. And that is why I have chosen to write this post, the “getting established in my routine part”.

      Many of you have written that there is just no or very little time. I understand completely how legitimate a statement that is for you and also how frustrating it can be. When I sat myself down to think about how I was going to actually implement a commitment to learning the guitar my biggest obstacle was time. I knew I didn’t want to start this if I was only setting myself up to fail so I needed to work it out before hand and this is what I came up with that had worked so well for me the previous year. As I said at the beginning, everyone with no exceptions, has some time in their day that can be reallocated. The trick to successfully gaining access to it and incorporating something new into ones life is to start with creating the habit as opposed to setting some lofty goal that is, at this time, completely inaccessible. Start small, very small and work up. To try to go from nothing to practicing 1 hour a day is, for most people, impossible and will only set oneself up for frustration and failure. But if you get the habit established first, the rest will fall very nicely into place. So… set a goal that you can 100% commit to (of course, emergencies don’t count here). You want to create a goal that you are not only able to accomplish but are pretty much guaranteed to accomplish. Setting yourself up for failure is not productive. One must set themselves up for success – that both helps to create new habits and feels good at the same time. I had heard that to successfully create a new habit you need about a month so I decided that I would commit 10 minutes each day to the guitar. This was not always practice but anything related to the guitar – changing one string, organizing books, reading… The kicker was that I promised myself that I made time every day with no excuses. I had already decided that I had 10 minutes somewhere in each day that I could reallocate so my next job was to find it. I vowed that I would not go to bed at night before I had my 10 minutes with the guitar. If forgetting is an issue, leaving notes around the house works marvelously. :-) I committed to this routine for 1 month, no excuses. My goal for that month was to create the habit in my life not to become a great musician. Every day I did it was a success and I quickly found that most days I spent more than 10 minutes and felt really happy when I looked at the clock to find a half hour had passed. When the month of 31 successes was over I set a new goal for the next month – a very workable, achievable goal again – however this second month I felt quite confident that I could easily extend the amount of time to 15 minutes each day and added completing the Fundamentals Course to that I completed that month with 31 successes as well. It felt so good and so easy. I continue setting these goals for myself and continue far exceeding my expectations which helps to perpetuate the cycle. Once the habit is establish the rest will follow – the habit is the key. This procedure is also a great way to break habits as well. Just set reasonable, doable goals and the fact that you do them consistently is how it works (like compound interest, it is magic!!!).

      I hope that has helped some of you who find yourselves where I was not too long ago. I wish you all great success!

      Be @ Peace,
      ~ Diane

  • Hi Scott,

    There might be a couple of things at play here. Firstly I believe that a good tremolo is the result of a solid RH technique. If you have improved your right hand technique, then I can understand why your tremolo has improved.

    Secondly, it can be a funny thing but our perception of our own sound can change over time, and with a…[Read more]

  • Hi Lily,

    There are many good things to say about your playing, but in regards to your left hand position your intuition is correct. I would like to see the hand more “square” to the fingerboard and the fingers curled around.

    Re-visit the Twinkle Twinkle lessons in the fundamentals course just to work on using your third finger in the melody.…[Read more]

  • Hi Jan, thanks for letting me know. Could you send through a screenshot of the message to the cgc email?

    Thanks

  • Simon replied to the topic Hi from North Carolina in the forum Introduce yourself 2 weeks ago

    Hi Ken,

    Great to have you here with us and thanks for saying “hi”!

    Simon

  • Hi Paul,

    Sorry to hear this. It is most likely not a problem with CGC but rather with Vimeo, the video hosting company. Sometimes individual videos can get a bit stuck. This seems to go away as randomly as it arises and also appears differently to different people.

    So, perhaps try again in a few hours or tomorrow. Sorry for the the frustration!

    Simon

  • Prelude Number 1 by Heitor Villa Lobos is one of the great works composed for classical guitar. From its full sounding resonance to the cello-like melody, this piece has been a favorite of students and concert […]

    • Excellent, Jose! Keep us posted, but we look forward to having you at the site. Thanks for the comment.

      Peace,

      Dave B (CGC team)

  • Hi Colleen,

    I’ll send you an email and get this sorted for you both!

    Regards,
    Simon

  • This was a session where we went through the first technical routine from level 1, 2 and 3. They went for about 30 minutes each so feel free to skip through the replay to find the one you are interested in.

  • Hi Everyone,

    The Summer School is shaping up nicely, and I am getting more and more excited about meeting everyone!

    I wanted to remind everyone that the price of tuition will go up after March 1st. So, if you are planning on attending, now is the time to complete your registration!

    http://www.classicalguitarcorner.com/summer

  • Welcome Riccardo, great to have you with us and thank you for saying hi in the forum.

    Simon

  • Hi Everyone,

    Hopefully you all received the new ‘member newsletter’ that went out a few days ago.

    In case you didn’t see it, we are having a live technique workshop this Sunday, Feb 26 at 4pm NYC time.

    In this workshop we will go through:

    Technical Routine #1 from Level 1
    Technical Routine #1 from Level 2
    Technical Routine #1 from Level…[Read more]

  • It has been so great having you here, Pitchou. Thank you for contributing to the live session, forums discussion, and performance videos.

    You will always be welcome back here!

    Safe travels

    Simon

  • Hi Balrama,

    Thank you for your ideas, they are very welcome and appreciated. Truly.

    I could say so much about all of this, but I will try and keep things brief!

    I wasn’t unpopular in high school, but I definitely wasn’t “popular” either. I was just that kid that spent lunchtimes up in the music room and had to petition to drop math in order to…[Read more]

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