Music Learning Notes (Classical Guitar) 03/09/2020

It’s been quite a week! A lot of bewilderingly good things happening but I’ve also been run off my feet chasing deadlines. Despite all that, I’ve managed to consistently do over an hour of CG practice a day and it’s given me good results.

I am a bit lax/imperfect on a couple of things I need to get done before next Wednesday’s class so I am putting it here to remind/embarrass me:

  • Scales! I have got the first set mostly done, the second set not yet. I think I should do at least 2-3 sets for class.
  • The capo option for Dowland’s Preludium. Seems like the capo is tradition for lute pieces apart from the drop to F# tuning but I find it a bit baffling. This isn’t really “You Must Do This” homework and was phrased as a mild and helpful suggestion, but being the all gung-ho super-extra student that I am in adulthood I felt I needed to unlock this puzzle. I’m not quite there yet and am concerned that I’ve come up to a convoluted solution to something that’s probably easier? We’ll see. I did it with drop D tuning on the sixth string, drop F# tuning on the third string and turned the capo around so that the first string would still be an open string E. It does make for some awkwardness, and I haven’t figured out how to do the ornamentation for the first bar or to just leave it off. But the thing is, I really love the ornamentation on the first bar, even though I can’t play it so well (getting better though!)

What I’ve been learning/playing

  1. Dedicatoria by Carmen Guzman. I’ve been both religiously following the time/count my teacher gave me, and then improvising a bit. I think there’s virtue in knowing more than one approach. I feel I’m getting more comfortable/confident enough that I’m working on sound texture and register. That’s nice. This piece is always a pleasure to play. I just get so swept up in the emotions of it.
  2. Preludium by John Dowland. Honestly, this piece has consumed me for weeks. I wake up hearing it in my head. I want to get it right. And I’m so glad my teacher pointed out the sustain issue in bar 21 — just wish it could be fixed. One way is through the capo, if I could only figure out how to play it the way it should play. The other option I discovered was through doing a barre on the 7th fret, except, my barre finger is weak so the sustain is lost anyway. Unless! Unless! I figured out another way. Not a bar, but it did require some awkward finger positioning that only got the sustain up to HALF a bar. Sigh. Variation is good so I am going to be working on both options. I do have a year till exams so hopefully by then I’ll have mastered or at least adequately memorized/internalized one of the methods. Really want to play this for exams. I love Dowland so much and have loved his music since I first started studying for exams back in the 90s (but never took them). So I will work on getting comfortable with the capo and doing the right fingering and whatever it takes to play this piece well. Okay. I can do this. I can do the thing.
  3. Prelude, BWV1007 by JS Bach. It’s back! I am just so lovedrunk on it right now. I played it a bit doubtfully over the weekend but was ASTOUNDED by how easily it was suddenly coming to my fingers. All the tremolo and arpeggio exercises actually worked a small miracle. I gave up a few months ago because I was starting to get sick of my repetitive practisings of bars 33-50. Still not perfect but it’s actually sounding the way it’s supposed to sound and I’ve nearly memorized those bars which makes the playing smoother and I can pay attention to my fingers during the tricky moments. There’s also better sustain now for the pedal points. And. To be honest I’m just playing it for the joy it brings and this inexpressible deep love I feel for it. I feel the love again and it’s such a gift. I’m so happy. I am okay with working on this for a year or for as long as it takes to play it right but for now to be able to play this with joy, for joy, is a miracle.
  4. exercises from Pumping Nylon — a bit awkwardly working through the first Left-hand etude by Mauro Giuliani, also Odair’s Favourite Drill which really is great for the LH as suggested by a forum-goer on that forum I no longer inhabit. I did learn a lot of good things there, so I’m grateful for that much.
  5. Noad’s Guitar Method Book 1 — still messing around with some of the drills there for warmups. I wanted to get nicely warmed up before I play the Dowland piece because of all those semiquavers! I think I’m getting the hang of it but not quite there yet.
  6. Estudio Sencillos — tonight I also played the first three for warmups before Guzman and Dowland. I really enjoyed that, I always love playing these pieces.
  7. The arpeggio and tremolo exercises from the Mel Bay book. My tremolo is slowly picking up speed and momentum, which means I really need to do it daily. And I also include this in my warmups because my fingers feel looser and lighter on the fingerboard after them. Also plan on (next week) going back to the tremolo exercises in Pumping Nylon.

But! Tomorrow I am going to spend a good hour on scales! I am such a disgrace! I will do the scales! I will work on the goddamned capo and see how I can continue to re-finger the piece without mucking things up.