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Video of the TWI Check-In with Borbála!


Have you noticed that most of the time we talk about technique or musical expression separately? We practice technical elements such as arpeggio, fast scales, left hand independence, tremolo, or even legato playing, etc. separately, but never together with the musical elements. Enjoy this two-week intensive to be able to play the basic musical ideas easily such as changes of dynamics and tempo, articulation, accentuation, as well as to improve your musical creativity.

  • Course Period: December 5th - 19th
  • Sign-Up: November 30th 
  • Zoom Check-In: Dec 11th, 9am PT

ASSIGNMENT FOR THE FIRST WEEK:Exercises_Expression (1) 

Please share a video of yourself playing the first three exercises and at least two variations of the fourth exercise.

1-3. Exercises:

  • Take a tempo in which you can play without unnecessary tension and make the musical expressions (accelerando, crescendo) gradually.

Exercice 1:

Exercice 2:

Exercise 3:


4. Exercise:

  • If it’s too difficult for you to learn to play in one week, you can perform only the upper voice.
  • Make attention, that fingering should be different depends on the desired musical character.
  • Try to show the musical elements exaggeratedly, even if it seems to be too much.
  • Try to imagine the character before you play the exercise.

Exercise 4:



Please choose a short section (at least a phrase) of your current repertoire or one of the following

  • Fernando Sor: Six Divertissements Op. 2. No. 1.
  • Matteo Carcassi: 25 Etudes Op. 60. No. 9.
  • Leo Brouwer: Estudios Sencillos No. 5.

and demonstrate it at least in two different variations of musical ideas, musical characters.
You can/should change the fingerings depends on your imagined musical character.
You can use the Cheat Sheet of Observation of musical ideas to control your way of playing.

Cheat_sheet_Observation_of_musical_expression (1) Sor_Six_divertissements_Op_2 Brouwer_Estudios_sencillos_no_5 Carcassi_25_Etudes_Op_60 

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  • Borbala Seres Here is my practice of exercise 3 (Staccato). 

    • Raul Guzman Vidal hi Raul, 

      For the second week the list of the pieces which I gave were just examples, or suggestions, if you know them and you don't have to learn them extra. 

      Please take a current piece, which you have in hands, and try to work on them. That is maybe a better idea! ☺️ 

    • Raul Guzman Vidal thanks for the video!

      exc. 4: since this piece is probably difficult for you after a week, that would have been enough really to play only the upper voice, but you did a great job. I can hear the directions of the ideas which I wanted to hear. If you want, you can try to practice this one more, but I would recommend to go to the second week and take a piece of yours, work with it, try to be creative! 

      Have fun! 😉

      Like 1
    • Borbala Seres Thank you for the suggestion, I also agree that it will be easier than learning a new piece. 

  • Sor Update Dec 13

    Here are two versions of the Sor Menuetto in which I have tried to follow some of your suggestions.

    • Bouncy - I played it a bit faster and added some accents. I tried to make the staccatos a bit shorter, but I'm not sure I succeeded.
    • Sweetly - I added more rubato. I tried to add some slow vibrato, but that does not come too easily for me, especially when holding a chord. I also added the second half of the piece.

    Let me know your thoughts. 🙏

    • Eric Phillips Bouncy: That's so much better, I really enjoyed it! I would add a small crescendo from measure 5 to 8 and leave it open at the end, because that is the dominant chord, so don't release it too much at the end.
      Sweetly: Also was beautyful. Maybe if make a repetition in a piece, it's always nice to try find a diffrent musical way for the second time to make it even more interesting for the listener and for yourself as well. One possibility is to not to release each time the small (2 measure) motives, try sometimes to keep four measures or even more together, or small changes with the dynamics, or with tempo etc. I would play the second time even softer/more piano and would play in measure 14 the second chord (G7) for sure with arpeggio.
      Anyway you did a great job, so congrats! The mission is completed 😉.

      Like 1
    • Borbala Seres Thank you so much! I will try all those suggestions, I really appreciate your attentive listening and detailed responses.

    • Eric Phillips

      Wow! Mission accomplished.  What great feedback. For me every piece by Sor has little challenges and you are handling them so well. Your sweet playing comes through and demonstrates how thoughtful you have been as you studied the piece.

      Like 1
  • KINKACHOO - I LOVE YOU  by Phillip Houghton

    Phillip Houghton describes the Kinkachoo as "a mythical bird, once wounded in the Spirit-Realm, heals and flies into the world".

    I have recorded measures 1-16.  I have been working on this piece for about a month.


    In the first version, the Kinkachoo is struggling to fly and is sad, feels despair.

    In the second verson, the Kinkachoo takes flight and is joyfully soaring above us.


    The composer writes to play the piece "flowing, with a sense of weightlessness; to hover and glow". I am not quite there yet, but will continue to work on it.

    Like 3
    • Martha Kreipke What beautiful music, Martha! I love the tone you are getting on those inner strings. It's amazing how much changing the tempo really changes the character of the music.

    • Eric Phillips 

      Thank you for listening and for taking the time to comment. It is encouraging that you feel I was able to convey different feelings. This TWI has been very helpful for me.

      Like 1
    • Martha Kreipke Hi Martha, thank you for the videos! I liked your basic ideas of sad and joyful bird. 
      Sadness: The tempo fits well to the character. I would reccomend to take the volume even more piano and softer. You could play even closer to the fretboard. Try to fins your softest tone quality. I would play also with the different tonecolors here (for instance from the 9. measure, where a different kind of motive steps in). I hear your musical thoughts (crescendo, tempo flexibility), but not enough. You should show them at least three times more, that it become clear for me as well as a listener. We always have to overdo all our musical ideas, like a theater actor. In measures 16-17 the ritartando was a magical moment. 
      Joyful: It could be even faster for this character. I could imagine here immediate dynamic changes, as when the wind causes a bird to suddenly change direction etc. also tonecolor changes would make the music even more interesting. Try to be brave with experimentation of different tools and listen to the effect what they make even if it is written differently in the score. Sometimes we can find better ideas, than the composer. 🙂 You are on a very good way, just be more brave with your thoughts. It is in you!

    • Borbala Seres Thank you for your feedback. It gives me ideas of where to go from here with my playing, especially with exaggerating the dynamics, tonecolors and tempo changes.

      I have worked with a coach who tells me to not be shy. And you encourage me to be brave. I think this comes from so many years of working hard to remain relaxed and to not play a wrong note that I have not worked enough on expression. For the next year that will become my focus!

    • Martha Kreipke In my opinion a wrong note is always forgivable (it's human), but a wrong music (boring) never! 😊 Just think about our bottom line! To enjoy music! And we can practice the technique, we should of course, but then we have to let it go to leave the music to flow! 

      It seems you have great plans for next year! I wish you good success with it! 😊

    • Martha Kreipke That's really a lovely piece and well-played. I'm not familiar with his work so I'll check it out. Thanks.

    • Steve Price  Thank you for the kind enouragement. I am enjoying learning to play this piece and recommend you take a look at it. Lots of opportunity for musical expression!

      Like 1
    • martinTeam
    • LIVE
    • martin.3
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    Hello friends and participants of this fantastic TWI with Borbála! She asked me to remind you that for exercise 4, you can also choose your repertoire! No need to learn the three pieces she proposed! 🔥

  • Hi again Borbála, here are phrases from a couple of pieces. First is the Carcassi which seems to me to be a fun, lively piece. I first tried to play it to bring out that fun nature. I would like it to be faster, but that will take more practice. For the second take, I tried to give it more of a romantic-era spin ala Mertz but in an overly dramatic, sappy manner. 

    Next up is part of a Bryan Johanson prelude and in the first take, I tried to give it the feeling of a lullaby. The song almost has an American bluegrass feel so I tried to bring out that fun dance nature in the second take.

    Thanks again for all the input. This has been a very thought-provoking exercise and it's been great to learn more about how to think like a musician. 

    • Steve Price Thanks for the videos!
      I like very much your characters!
      Funny Carcassi: I would recommend here to use much shorter articulation on the eighths to get more funny character. You have right, it could be faster, but your character idea is still audible. If you want to help your left hand to reach easier a faster tempo I would suggest to try not to turn your palm out, try to stay parallel with your palm to the neck of the guitar. Your fingers will get much closer to the strings, you can prepare better, you can do smaller movements and it will help you with the speed. Try not to tense your pinkie it looks a bit stressed. I coud imagine here also color changes or volume changes.

      Sappy: It could be even more sappier. You can choose a slower tempo and play more rubato, in this case you coud overdo it more. I would reccomend not to play tenuto on each first and third beats, it stops too much the musical flow. if you put less tenuto, you will be able to hold the melody together easier. I woud play less vibrato for the same reason. You can use dynamics more brave. If I heard right, you play a tasty staccato on the last scale, you can show it even more, that it become obvious.

      Lullaby: I would say for a lullaby you coud take a slower tempo and you should imagine it more relaxed. I would try to make it even more legato and try to connect the melody notes even more if it's possible (I don't know the score of this piece).

      Country dance: It's great idea. You could make it a bit faster and to go more for secco tonecolor. You could experiment with accents on the second and third beat, to get the country music character more, but your play sounded great, these ideas were just suggestions. Nice job!

    • Borbala Seres Thank you so much for the feedback and your guidance. This session has been the most beneficial time that I've spent on this platform so thank you for participating. Best of luck to you and hope you enjoy the holidays. 

    • Steve Price Thank you so much for your kind words. I enjoyed it a lot too! Thanks for your active and very creative participation. Try to continue with experimentation. It makes a lot of fun! Merry Christmas and happy New Year!  

    • Barney
    • Barney
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    I chose the Carcassi excerpt for this brief expression example. 

    The first mood is that of "Children Playing Happily". The second is a  "Calm Lazy River Ride".

    I've never played this Etude before, so haven't lived with it long, but please let me know your comments.  Thanks!

    • Barney Thanks for the video!

      Your character ideas were really good!
      Children Playing Happily: It was really great! Tempo fits well, articulation lovely. I would keep the staccatos also for the third measure. When I imagine children I hear their voice thiner, so I woud take a more secco kind of tonecolor, but it depends on you how you imagine it.

      Calm Lazy River Ride: It is also good character. For me it was not enough lazy and calm. Try it with much slower and overdo your tempo flexibility, but otherwise it was great. Good job!

      • Barney
      • Barney
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Borbala Seres Thank you Borbala for this wonderful two weeks of important training!!    I really enjoyed it and learned a lot in this brief period.  Hope to see you again soon on Tonebase!

      • Barney
      • Barney
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Borbala Seres What do you mean by "secco".  Do you mean play the Staccato even shorter; or do you mean play more "metallic: near the bridge?  thanks!

    • Barney I meant metallic. 😊

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