10 Reasons – Why most people fail to master the Classical Guitar

The Classical Guitar or the Concert Guitar or the Spanish Guitar, whatever name you may fancy is an instrument that requires rigorous training and practice to perfect even the most easy and intermediate of pieces. Most Classical Guitar teachers know very well about the enormous amount of labor and difficulty they went through to accomplish the set of substantial skills that made them a Concert Guitarist. Superficially the Classical Guitar might seem to be easy, when u try to hone a skill or two on it, you feel the pinch, don’t you ? Anyways, throughout history, most people who tried the Classical Guitar thinking of it as a gateway to relaxation, certainly met the very opposite of what they had expected. Most of them who tried, succeeded to some extent with which they were satisfied and got accepted as recitalists, some took it seriously enough to strive and become a world renowned concert guitarist, but there are always those who failed in spite of being good in other instruments or simply found the pick style guitar to be more comfortable. I’ve jotted down 10 reason below that’ll give u an insight on why these people who fail, generally fail :

1. Inconsistent Posture

It sounds obvious doesn’t it? We all did it, some of us who are reading this till date do it and the real reason for which we do this in most cases is because we shifted from the pick guitar and got all serious about the Concert one. For some of  you who are living in a cave and don’t know about the posture-less pick style guitar, then u ought to know that even though there is a posture for steel string/pick guitars as well, but there is no fixed or strict posture. However, educated plec-style jazz guitarist recommend using a Guitar strap adjusted to the same height in which they would be playing on stage standing, to be used strictly while they practice. But very few pick guitarists follow that and even if they don’t; they still succeed, because they don’t have to deal with the uber-complex complexity that is an inherent feature of the Classical Guitar. The kind of pieces with the amount of contrapuntal complexity and dexterity involved in classical guitar is obviously a couple of times more difficult in comparison to the pick style. Inconsistent posture can lead to bad habits, bad articulation etc. Always use a foot-rest, cushion , clamp or whatever makes u comfy. Try not to play in any other posture at all. You can try the Paco de lucia posture at your own risk. Still if you have to play, when u are in a guitar shop and you are too embarrassed to ask for a foot rest; if i were u i would take my cushion or ask for one. Most people obviously seem to be too lost in the music itself and overlook this issue.

2. Horrible Nail File-ing

Nail filing isn’t obviously as easy as it seems. Some people just don’t get it. You need a good shape of your nails, and u need to file your nails at least two to three times a week. What most people forget is that they need to file and smooth-en their nails with sandpaper frequently. The best thing to do is to do it for a few seconds every single day, now this might slightly be risky, but once you’ve gained enough experience you’ll know what to file, how to file, what to keep, angle, shape etc. You need two types of decent nail files and a fine sandpaper. I use P 2500, generally the rule is to get the most smooth surfaced sandpaper.It all boils down to experience I guess. Nails are extremely important. Most people think of nail filing to be a big hassle and ultimately quit and switch to pick style guitars. Piano players who are trying to learn the Guitar experience some difficulty in playing some virtuoso passages on the piano with the right hand finger nails, hence this is a good reason why they quit. Some people keep long nails and end up breaking them which lags their progress. To get expert advice on nail filing, get the Scott tennant dvds.

3. Absence of music stand & Guitar support

If you don’t have a music stand then please get one. The most cheapest ones cost around $10. Placing your sheet flat on the desk or the bed has been proven to be inefficient and also causes vision problems. And get a foot rest , or a cushion, or something else, try experimenting with all of them. It all comes down to you, whichever makes you feel comfortable is the best option for you.

4. Not using the Metronome

Metronome helps to give you a steady beat and helps u play more accurately and gives u a great sense of time. As a performer, you may hit a wrong note or hit a buzzy one, but there’s nothing more flawed than having a bad sense of time. Highly recommended for beginner, intermediate & advanced students. Most people who never heard of a metronome ended up never hearing any compliments when it came to their guitar playing.

5. Lack of Sight Reading

Since the Classical Guitar’s core repertoire is Classical music, you have to be a really good sight reader in order to qualify as a really good classical guitarist, there’s no other alternative. For those who just put pieces into memory and plan to sight read once a month, well I could assure them that the path they’ve taken is indeed a dark one. Sight Read everyday, make those staff notations your friends.Those who forgot that sight reading was a part of the regular routine, didn’t get along with the Classical Guitar very well.

6. Not Getting the right action, comfort and feel

The action, intonation, saddle, everything might need some adjustments at first. They might also need adjustments over periods of time, necks can warp. Everyone has their own preferences right? Get them done before its too late. I heard people who never thought about getting comfortable with the Classical Guitar mostly flunked.

7. Not having a Good Classical Guitar

If you had expected to fall in and love pursue serious Classical Guitar studies playing on a $100 Yamaha C40, then think again! Classical Guitar is not fun and games. Guitars are the products of years of experience, knowledge, patience, skills of the worlds best luthiers. Once you are serious about the Classical Guitar, getting a good guitar around $2000 dollars is your first priority. When u evolve as one of the fine Concert guitarists in the world, then u can think of buying a $5000- $10,000 custom made luthier model.

8. Rushing to play a lot of pieces

There are those who simply don’t know when to slow down. They also believe in two other dogma’s – 1. playing fast means you’re a great player & 2. having a gigantic repertoire makes you better than anyone else. For the love of music, have fun, play and perfect a piece for the 1000th time. As a performer, you are the sole interpreter, don’t just play pieces from muscle memory, but try giving the piece a new life. Every note should be heard prominently even the soft ones, every note should have its own volume and color, now that’s called articulation. Having a tempo as rigid as the metronome will only make u sound like a robot, try to loosen up a little, but make sure that u don’t mess up the rhythm. Serious interpreters make changes, if you have enough knowledge and confidence then you can obviously edit the piece and tailor it fashionably to make it look as if it came out of you. However, too much deviation can mess things up, unless you are improvising on a jazz standard. Use your inward eye to feel what the composer has felt, study the subjectivity of the piece and the period. Add some legatos, harmonics, an introduction or an ending. Trying having your own arrangements. Do not forget legatos, individual hammer ons and just plain pull offs, sliding and most importantly vibrato, and study how to use them in context. Now that’s what artistic interpretation is all about.

9. Not attempting enough E-tudes

Etudes are extremely important, do not even have the thought of undermining the power of e-tudes. Not only do the great players recommend it, but i can assure you that practicing the e-tudes one by one from an e-tude book is a better option compared to playing various pieces, if you want to advance quickly in a short time. Even if you want to advance slowly ( for some odd reason ) e-tudes are highly recommended. And please do read what the e-tudes are intended for. People who never attempted any etudes hardly get any recognition as mature recitalists.

10. Lack of Improvisation & Aural Training

Without Improvisation, there would be no composition. Improvisation is itself a phenomenally interesting feature in the world of music. All the greatest Classical & jazz musicians improvised. Composition on the other hand was a logical extension, refinement and arrangement of an improvisation that has been carefully edited, & thoughtfully constructed. In order to improvise one needs aural training, try to hum the notes of the guitar and sing what u play. Music is an aural artform and u cannot deny that. So getting an Aural training, so that you at least have a ‘relative pitch’ to pick up a tune by ear and knowing the intervals is a skill that
is mandatory. This indispensable skill will help you in feeling the depth of a musical composition, be able to connect with it, acknowledge the musical logic behind it, appreciate its structure etc. Even if you don’t want to be a composer, all this will benefit you in becoming a good interpreter.

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