WEEK TWO: The Musical Voyage!

Welcome to the Main Thread for the second week of the Sergio Assad Community Challenge! 


If you want to describe your process (optional), feel free to use the following template.

  • Things you found easy:
  • Things you found difficult:
  • (Optional): a video of you performing the etude!
  • (Optional:) questions

↓ Reply below with your assignments and questions! ↓

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  • I decided to practice Sketch V some more and record it again. I'm not sure this is too much better though.

    One thing that is a little better is my sound. Instead of using my iPhone 7 for this, I used my laptop with a USB plugin microphone. 🎤 It's a small step up! 👞 🙂 I'm sure those gifted in the art of recording guitar are rolling their eyes right now! 🙄

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      Eric Phillips No rolling eyes here, haha, good job as always! 🥳 I think it shows a little bit more temperament in the b-part, which I really enjoy! I think, it can take even more articulation in the melody, right now I have the feeling that sometimes you jump a little bit up and down between the different voices! Maybe try a version with a very soft bass line just to make you even more  aware what is going on in the different voices? And articulating the syncopation like I demonstrated in the agitato part of Sketch 2 might serve well here, too!

      This is of course nitpicking on a very high level, I just try to push you even more! 🧙‍♂️

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    • Martin Thank you so much, Martin, for this great input! Recently, Emmanuel Sowicz also told me that I need to articulate melody lines better, and keep accompaniment softer. It's so tempting with these contrapuntal lines to try to bring them all out, but that just obscures the melody. I will definitely work on this and record it again. (Besides, that allows me to put off working on Sketch VI, which I'm finding a bit tedious! 🙂)

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    • Eric Phillips Sounds beautiful to me! 

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    • Eric Phillips oh yes nice sound and sketch improvement!

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    • Steve Pederson Thank you, Steve.

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    • Blaise Laflamme Thanks Blaise.

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    • Eric Phillips Nice improvement, Eric! I hear it flowing better 🙌.   

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  • Sketch VI Day 1 Measures 1-49.

    What was easy: Well the ostinato so far is just two open strings, so I guess that's kind of easy. That said, I played it too loudly.

    What was difficult: Right now it does not sound musical at all. It has more the feel of a technical exercise. The m-a alternation is not completely comfortable. I find myself wanting to get the i finger in on the ostinato, and I have to resist it.

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      Eric Phillips Another great first contact session that you are sharing with us! Thank you! 🥳

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    • Eric Phillips great first take at that piece... I'm eager to dig in! I understand this is harder to find some «landmarks» in that style of writing but I'm sure you'll find a way to connect.

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    • Blaise Laflamme Thanks. I'm not there yet.

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    • Eric Phillips Well done Eric - great first run through. This sketch definitely sounds more challenging than the earlier ones. Look forward to measures 50 .....

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    • Ron Thanks Ron. Definitely more challenging. The speed indicated in the score is just beyond me right now.

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  • Hi Martin , in sketch 2, I follow your advise about achieving better finger alteration by playing chords. And this time I also follow you in the other point, which is to not play apoyando anymore :) Here is my take 2 of sketch 2 :) Many thanks for your helpful video personallized for me :)

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    • Khiem Nguyen Good work, Khiem! Martin's advice is always so helpful.

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    • Eric Phillips thank you Eric. I agree with you about Martin's advice :)

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      Khiem Nguyen Great job, your right hand seems to be much more secure and stable, keep up the good work!

      Last thing to work on before you try to get it a little bit up to speed is to keep those hanging notes a little longer! I like to get all the technical difficulties out of the way before speeding up a piece! 🏎 

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    • Martin Hi Martin, thank you very much for showing me my remaining issue. It is very good to see your illustration of problem above, it is easy for me to understand where it is ^_^ I will practice to resolve it and will upload again. Have a nice day! ^_^

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      Khiem Nguyen Awesome, excited for that! 💪🙌

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    • Martin it is harder than I think Martin. While I am paying attention to hold the notes to its full duration, then I forget to alternate right hand fingers - in other words, I repeat my "a" finger on 6th then 4th string, or 6th then 5th string. I owe you and myself this homework. ^_^ I will practice more next days and will update you hopefully soon ^_^

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    • Khiem Nguyen thanks for sharing your progress, you're not that far from playing at that tempo, and I hear it that way. 👍

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    • Khiem Nguyen Well done Khiem - great progress!

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    • Blaise Laflamme and Ron thank you a lot! I will keep on the hard-working :)

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    • Khiem Nguyen great! Martin's advice really helps. Keep the good work! 🙌

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      Khiem Nguyen Oh yeah, sometimes it's one additional layer that mixes things up again! This is why I am always arguing to practice a piece with different rhythms, it is like looking at a beautiful gem from different angles and it will feel different for your hand each time! Keep up the good work! 🙌

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    • Khiem Nguyen Nice work! I'm not sure if you intended to "roll" the double stops, for example the octave Gs, but I actually like that effect. Keep it up! 

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  • Well, I here goes nothing! 😄

     

    My first attempt at sketch 2. Don't be too hard on me! 

     

    What I found easy: Having fun clowning around

    What I found difficult: the notes

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      Steve Pederson Hahaha, lovely background! 🧸 It's amazing to see the speed with which some of our users *cough Eric Phillips cough* are exploring and discovering the intricacies of these studies 🚘 But those Sketches are here to stay, so don't worry if you don't make it through all of the Sketches over the course of this Challenge (heck, I won't be able to post a video on every piece as well).

      Thank you for sharing your first contact with that piece, it's great to see that you don't hesitate to show a work in progress (which I don't find embarrassing at all by the way :), because it will make us appreciate the effort behind a practice update even more! Great that you already took so much care of the hanging notes on beat 3 on each bar!

      I really did enjoy the talking as well, it's great to meet our users on a more personal level 🥳

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    • Steve Pederson I love that video (and yes, I watched it all)! First of all, it made me laugh, which is always appreciated. Also, we got to see the first steps of you turning those blobs on a screen/page that we call a score into actual music in your hands. For what it’s worth *cough Martin  cough*, I am hitting a brick wall on number six. 

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    • Steve Pederson Hi Steve - great post, I really enjoyed it (and the chat). It's a lovely sketch and I think your tone is so well suited to it. Well done.

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      Eric Phillips Oh yeah, No. 6 is a tough one! While the shapes always change, at least the rhythm stays consistent!

      I'll dive into the later Sketches on Saturday and show practice approaches and some little details I've recognized in them! Sketch No.7, bar 52, three against four, that was fun, phew...

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  • Sketch V Day 4.

    As per Martin's wonderful and helpful input, I'm playing Sketch V again, this time trying to articulate the melody better, especially in the B section. I'm not sure how successful I was, so let me know what you think. 

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    • Eric Phillips hey... you're just sounding better and better each time... I really enjoyed you playing this sketch, and the B part sounds just great... just a minor thing, bar 24 - 3rd beat, the E is flat as in the first chord of the bar. 👍

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    • Blaise Laflamme You are right!!! I can't believe I missed that! The natural sign on the E in the next measure should have alerted me. I just played it with an E-flat and it sounds better. Thank you so much, Blaise.

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    • Eric Phillips you were playing this sketch so well that I could not «not» tell you, that way you'll play it perfectly :)

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    • Eric Phillips Just foud the week 2 thread - I was wandering where it was! Well this certainly worked for me, I though the melody came though beautifully and the phrasing was excllent. Well done Eric!

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    • Ron Thank you so much, Ron. Glad you found us here in week 2! Now you can add some video updates! 😉👍

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    • Eric Phillips I agree with Blaise! I like the direction you're heading to, you're doing always better 😎👏

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    • Daniel Beltrán Thank you, Daniel!

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      Eric Phillips Wow, such an improvement, the line gets more clear and dramatic like that! In German I'd say that it feels a little bit "verkopft" now, meaning I can feel and hear you concentrating about seperating the voices, but that takes time and WILL improve. The classical guitar is just such a hard instrument when it comes to polyphony! But honestly, this is a wonderful improvement! 🤯🥳

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    • Eric Phillips This was actually my first exposure to this sketch. I haven't even heard Sergio play it yet. I could definitely hear the melody come through nicely. I think you did a wonderful job with it. You've inspired me to want to play it!

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  • Sketch VI Day 2.

    What was easy - Drinking my morning coffee! ☕

    What was difficult - I just have no feel for this music or what it should be sounding like. I've listened to Assad play it, and he's obviously better at executing it than I am, but when I go to play it, it's like I'm not even playing the same music. It just feels like I'm going through the motions of playing the notes on the page, and not really creating anything. To be honest, I kind of want to move on, but I know the music just gets harder after this!

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    • Eric Phillips haha... the brick wall... you really made me laugh! Again what an improvement over your first try of this sketch. You're doing more music that you think in this sketch, because of your natural musicality!

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    • Blaise Laflamme Assad's markings are so precise in this one, even down to metronome markings for the accelerandi. I find it very difficult to execute such precise indications, especially when I don't have a "feel" for it. I wonder if he knew that the concept of the piece is a bit like an exercise and so went wild on the the dynamic and expressive indications.

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    • Eric Phillips well, I think you're demolishing that brick wall little by little, Eric! you got a strong head haha. Liked that contrast between the major seveths and the octaves 👍

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    • Daniel Beltrán Thank you, Daniel. Recording them separately helped me to bring out the contrasts (although there could be more contrast).

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      Eric Phillips Oh, that IS a great improvement! I definitely can see a light at the end of the tunnel and start to hear the natural phrasing! Excited for your next update (which is already there, I'm just catching up right now!)

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    • Eric Phillips Bravo! I stuck with you through the whole thing! I have not heard this peace yet, and judging by those chords, I don't think I'm going to rush into it! I'm pretty sure I can get those open "Bs" and open "Es" right, though! 😂 I thought it was pretty musical. I guess, with any material, you have to make it your own. 

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    • Steve Pederson Thanks, Steve!

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  • Hello friends,

    I apologize for the late participation but I'll try to do better for the remaining 😅. Here's my progress for sketch #1, I've played it a few times so it's almost sight reading with some lines almost memorized, but Sergio is good at just make it similar to what you could already know but... not at the same time. Not as easy as you would think out of the box, and sorry for the missed notes! 😵

     

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      Blaise Laflamme Wow, what an entry! Thank you for this great update! Right of the bat, I enjoyed the phrase from bar 25 a lot! This kind of fingering is very flattering to the prhase, but it might got you in trouble in bar 57! For there, I'd just focus on not cutting the last beat in a bar too short!

      Great job on part 4, that one took me quite a while to figure out!

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    • Martin thanks Martin, yeah with two voices and try to keep the legato...  «a la Carlevaro» 😂... for the second one I totally miss the end part obviously, I should have practice more, but yes my intent was to have the upper note as the «melody» but I miserably failed 😂

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      Blaise Laflamme Yes, I heard him speaking through that line, fantastic, haha! 🥳 I am sure you'll get there 🖖

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    • Blaise Laflamme Marvelous! Sounded amazing! 

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      • Wai Ng
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      Blaise Laflamme Sounds Great! I found it difficult to memorize this piece also, and I don't know why, I kept hearing soothing ocean waves sound in my head when I was practicing this tune. Then I mixed the wave sound with my recording and found they matched perfectly XD

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    • Wai Ng thank you... haha nice trick, at least it sounds like in your head, you should share us the result! I found that after working regularly on a piece for a few hours/days/weeks, including sight reading the whole piece at a tempo I can master most of it at the end of a working session, it gets memorized without effort in the end, compared to when I try to memorize it as soon as possible. It also has the benefit of memorizing through the process of building my understanding of the form, style, harmony, rythme, patterns, fingerings, ... and the story it tells me. 

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      • Wai Ng
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      Blaise Laflamme Thank you for the tip for memorization. Here is my recording of the first piece of Sketch, I played it very loosely and as I said before, I added some ocean waves sound in the background and I really like the atmosphere of the wave sound & the melody combined. 
      https://soundcloud.com/gokokui/10-sketches-01-sergio-assad
      (I did not take a video of my playing, that's why I didn't join the challenge. Anyway, I really feel that this piece fits the wave sound well, lol. I am going to start practicing the 2nd Sketch, see what kind of atmosphere it is going to give me)

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    • Wai Ng wow this is super cool! I want to point out that you don't have to post any video of yourself playing, that's a bonus... it would have been great to have your audio recording in this challenge... hope you'll consider participating in any upcoming challenges, like the Carcassi one starting next Monday.

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  • Hi everyone, I have practiced sketch III - section A.

    Things I found easy: sight reading

    Things I found difficult: how to make the open string notes to sound warm and full, and have the same volumn as pressed note, this needs extra attention. Without attention, my open string notes can sound metallic and louder than pressed notes :)

     

    I will continue with section B and A'

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    • Khiem Nguyen Good work, Khiem. I have the same problem with open strings. When I do them well, I just give them a little extra right hand attention to keep them from sounding thin or too loud. It's just hard to always be mindful of that while the notes are going by.

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    • Khiem Nguyen Well done Khiem, nicely played. I too find the open strings can sound very thin compared with the stopped notes unless I change my angle of attack. I look foward to B and A'

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    • Eric Phillips and Ron , thank you a lot! :) When we record our playing, we will notice where we have a thin, louder open string notes than pressed notes. 

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    • Khiem Nguyen Yes listening to our own recordings we can learn a lot.

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    • Khiem Nguyen good work! your open strings don't sound as bad as you may think. I would suggest you to think about making non-open string notes less warm, instead of the opposite, and mostly to think about the whole melody and make it sound consistent instead of thinking «by note - by string». Changing the way you listen to what you do enhance a lot the end result.

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    • Blaise Laflamme Hi Blaise, yes,  my  open strings do not sound as bad as in some other pieces that I played (not posted here). It is indeed a great tips from you. Thank you for sharing your tips! :)

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      Khiem Nguyen wonderful Khiem, thank you for your update! Talking about consistent sound quality, you might find Emmanuel 's workshop on Expression Through Contrast: Continuity and Anomaly helpful!

      The sound quality has also a lot to do with the shape of your nail! I'm just mentioning that because most of your double stops are not being played at the same time and it could be rooted different resistances for each finger. So maybe one of our many productions or livestreams might be helpful for this issue, too!

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    • Martin Hi Martin, thank you for your feedback. Tomorrow I will check EMMANUEL workshop out.

      Please find my resubmission, take 2 or Sketch III, full version. I am trying to play the double stops at the same time. I hope this is getting a bit closer to be considered as being at the same time :)

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      Khiem Nguyen wonderful, getting there! 🌟🎉

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    • Martin , I have just watched the whole EMMANUEL's workshop on Expression Through Contrast: Continuity and Anomaly and I really have a lot of wow, aha moments. I find it especially detailed and easy to understand. Now I have more tools/ideas on how to express a piece better through contrast. Thank you for pointing me to the right direction! ^_^

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    • Martin Hi Martin, this is my 3rd take of Sketch III. I still have a notable problem with the double stops are not played at the same time. I find it difficult to change my habit when playing on a piece. Maybe it is easier when I play a seperate Etude focusing on executing the double stops at the same time. Can you give me a piece of advice?

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    • Khiem Nguyen I commented on one of your previous videos that I liked how you rolled the octave Gs in the second sketch. Now I hear you doing it on every combination of notes that are written together. I would try making sure that when you play two notes together that you play them at exactly the same time. Give it a try and see if you like it. 😉

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    • Steve Pederson hi Steve, thanks for your suggestion. I will try your suggestion at some point :)

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  • Hello friends,

    here's my progress on sketch #2 and like sketch #1 I've played it a few times and it's also almost sight reading with some lines memorized. As opposed to Daniel Beltrán who did a great job with the tempo and strong character, my initial connection with the piece is more introspective. Again not an easy piece even if simple on the surface, even harder to make it legato!

     

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    • Blaise Laflamme beautiful sound Blaise! Yes, I agree with you that it is challenging to make it legato. I believe these first few excercises are very good for training our left hand dexterity and finger independence  :)

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    • Khiem Nguyen yes for sure Sergio has thought about a lot in those sketches.

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    • Blaise Laflamme great! Really liked your character on this one, which is the opposite to mine, where I like being more percusive and agitated. It's amazing to hear all of these different and inspiring approaches! 😎🙌

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    • Daniel Beltrán thank you... same for me about you! 🎉

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      Blaise Laflamme beautiful, fantastic! I love how all of you feel the glissando so nicely, I kinda shredded that one away! But your tone and sensitive phrasing is a joy to listen to!

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    • Martin thank you Martin, yeah the glissando makes even more sense when you play the piece at a slower tempo, I figured out I could use it as a «momentum» near the end of the section.

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    • Blaise Laflamme Really fantastic! You make it look easy! Great tone as well. I'm wondering what kind of guitar you have.

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    • Steve Pederson thank you Steve, this is a 1999 cedar top from luthier Rene Wilhelmy I bought last year from someone around here, my first Wilhelmy was a 1991 that I unfortunately sold 15 years ago 😭. He's also a good friend of mine and I'm waiting impatiently a new spruce top one I've ordered from him 🤪.

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    • Blaise Laflamme Well, it sounds incredible. I can see why you like it, and I'm sure the spruce top will be worth the wait. I am currently waiting on a Hauser-model spruce top to be finished up.

      I'm also really impressed by the artistry of your video. Black background and black shirt really helps focus the attention on the guitar and your face. I'm curious how you get the black background. That's great stuff. I'm curious why you're wearing headphones. Are you listening to a metronome? 

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    • Steve Pederson thank you, and you seem to also play on a spruce top, I like the clarity and precision of the planting and sound of a spruce top. I hope you'll make sure to share with us the sound and beauty of your next guitar when it's done!

      About the videos, in fact as you can see on the others I did in previous challenges, my room is not really a good background so I figured out that using a green screen would help, and combined with a black shirt it would make the guitar and my hands more visible (the interesting parts). I'm using headphones to track what I'm doing while recording, I realized that how I play is not always reflected in the recording as I hear it from the instrument so it helps me to compensate by hearing whats being recorded. Here's the setup...

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      • Brett Gilbert
      • Piano and classical guitar
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      Blaise Laflamme I finally had time this morning to go back to the challenge thread and look at more of the submissions. I was just about to ask about how you did your cool videos and found this where you show the amazing setup you have.  Do you have a general recommendation for the best type of microphone for recording guitar?  I'm assuming the one you use is expensive, so looking for more modest upgrades over the cheap one I'm using now.  Thank you.  Always enjoy your videos.

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    • Brett Gilbert I'm glad you enjoyed them and I have to say I was super impressed by how quick you were able to pick up and play the guitar in so short amount time... wow! In fact I'm not using super expensive microphones, for sure expensive is relative, but compared to what I would have like to buy or what Martin  is using as a professional sound engineer, those microphones are affordable if you want to level-up your sound. I'm using 4 microphones, stereo cardioids and stereo ribbons, and the revelation to me was the ribbons. I suggest you to listen to Martin's recording course on Tonebase, this was my starting point. He was kind enough to provide us a lot of info about microphones and suggest us what is the best bang for the bucks! I'm using a pair of CM4 from Line Audio and a stereo SRM1 from NoHype Audio, you can buy directly fro them. Lately I also added a stereo fixed X/Y Rode NT4 for quick setup and mixed with the SRM1 it gives good results, this is what I'm using on the image above and for the Assad challenge. Feel free to ask any question you have, I would be happy to share my experience, even if it's quite limited and recent, and I'm sure Martin would be more than willing to complete with his extensive experience!

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      • Brett Gilbert
      • Piano and classical guitar
      • Brett_Gilbert
      • 1 mth ago
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      Blaise Laflamme Thanks for the detail and I was unaware of the past livestream about equipment.   I can see how A/V recording could end up being an expensive side-hobby if I'm not careful but you've given me some great starting points.  

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    • Brett Gilbert you're right it can be really expensive if you don't give yourself a limit. I would first invest in a good instrument, I don't know what you're using now, but that'd definitely be the strong base of your sound.

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  • Hello friends,
    here's my progress on sketch #3 and strangely this one was a lot easier for me than #2 and #1. Okay you'll tell me I totally miss the last note 😭 and make the end of the piece totally odd 😱 (I'm with you on this) but... I really enjoyed the style ans character of this one.

     

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    • Blaise Laflamme You may be late, but it was worth the wait! All three of those (Sketches 1-3) are spectacular, Blaise. You clearly have an affinity for the music. Great musicality and phrasing. I like the tempos you chose - slower for #2, but quicker for #3. Your sound and articulation were so good too (especially that ponticello on #3). Very impressive!👋

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    • Eric Phillips thank you for the appreciation, far from perfect but the idea is to share our progress so far... I think after the challenge I'll take more time to push them at an higher level, those are great pieces.

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    • Blaise Laflamme Well I would LOVE to be able to play them as well as you did!

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    • Blaise Laflamme I agree with Eric - certainly worth the wait. All three executed beautifully with great choice in tempo, phrasing and dynamics. Bravo!

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    • Eric Phillips thanks Eric, I'm happy you enjoyed them. You're doing pretty well yourself... that's not an easy task to learn new music never heard before. It takes a lot of discipline and creativity to make them yours and you clearly have both!

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    • Ron Thank you Ron!

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    • Blaise Laflamme 

      Nice color changes! Fluent playing Blaise! I want to take your playing as a model to progress to! 

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    • Khiem Nguyen thank you... I'm happy if I could have given you some basic ideas for your own playing!

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    • Blaise Laflamme Nice! 😀 love your tone, musicality, character... really enjoyed it! Hope to hear more sketches played by you, Blaise! 🙂   

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    • Daniel Beltrán thank you Daniel, I'll try to record as much as I can till the end... I'm now on vacation, I should have more time, but at the same time a lot of other things are happening... I also hope to hear more sketches from you!

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      Blaise Laflamme Wow, there's much color, that was a pleasure to listen to!

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    • Martin thank you Martin, that sketch is more than suited for those kind of rhythmic and color contrasts, it was really fun to make my way through.

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    • Blaise Laflamme Bravooo!!👋👋

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  • Sketch VI Day 3. I have taken a new approach. Instead finding a way through the brick wall, I went around it a bit. You'll understand when you watch. 😁

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    • Eric Phillips Very clever! I like your solution. Well played!

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    • Ron Thanks, Ron. That idea popped into my head last night, and it sure made playing it a lot easier, doing it in chunks. The editing on the computer was easier than I thought. Between this and helping you out with YouTube, maybe I should go into IT? (Nah!)

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    • Eric Phillips I was in IT belive it or not! 

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    • Ron I remember you saying that somewhere. Not my calling, for sure!

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    • Eric Phillips What a nice idea... that piece has now a lot more direction, your progress on this one is impressive. As I said before, you have a lot of creativity!

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    • Blaise Laflamme Thanks Blaise!

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      Eric Phillips Great job! You are closer to reality than you might think when it comes to editing this stuff! If you'd have recorded with 2 cameras, you could have switched at each edit point to another camera and nobody would have noticed that this is in fact stitched together! Maybe you'll give this recording thing another try at some point 🧙‍♂️🤓

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    • Martin Maybe I will … 😀

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  • Sketch VII Day 1. Well, I went around the brick wall of Sketch VI only to find a higher wall called Sketch VII! I only played measures 1-39 (the first three variations). Trust me, if you listen to it, you'll thank me for stopping early.

    What was easy: Does not apply here

    What was difficult: Can I just say everything? Here are some particular issues:

    • These chords are killer on the left hand! In particular the F#m11 found for the first time in measure 7. I simply cannot play that with the fingering Assad gave. I checked the video of his performance, and he does indeed play it that way. I have to re-finger it without a barre, but it's still ridiculously hard.
    • The changing of meter just is not smooth for me. I have to admit that I don't really like abrupt meter changes like these. They don't feel natural to me, even when I'm just listening to them. Again, it feels more like an exercise than like music. (And I haven't even gotten to the polyrhythms yet!)

    I'll keep plugging away, I guess. ✌️

    Like 3
    • Eric Phillips I think it's a great achievement to even get to bar 39! It's definitely going to be a while before I try to tackle this one - let alone the ones that follow! Well done Eric!

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    • Ron Thanks again. Ron. I actually am thinking of taking a whole different approach to this one as well now. My ideas are still in the embryonic stage, so I won't make them public just yet.

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    • Eric Phillips good work here too! 👍 I think once you've mastered the chord shapes you could probably emphasis more on the rythme and then come back to mix both together... still three to record until I'm there... this one looks fun to play!

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    • Blaise Laflamme Thanks again, Blaise. I'm still figuring out the direction I want to go. 

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    • Eric Phillips these ones are tough, good job, Eric! When I get to this one, I think that particularly I would study it for a little longer than the others to internalize more those rhythm and meter changes, since they are difficult. But you're doing well and I know you'll do even better next time, you always do 😎 

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    • Daniel Beltrán Thank you, Daniel. I've got something a little different that I'm working on for this one. I'll probably post again tomorrow.

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  • So week 2. I had some time to watch the rest of the progress videos today and decided I will stick to sketches 1 through 5 for the period of the challenge. I think 6 though 10 will be part of my study plan for the next year (at least!)

    Each on one of the skecthes is so rich in learnings and I think it's well worth while staying with each of them over time - I keep discovering new things as I revsit and get to know them better.

    I read through 3, 4 and some of 5 today (no videos at this stage I'm afraid)

    No. 3 seems reasonalbly straightforward, although I need to make sure I observe the rests. The improvisation is fun!

    I really like no. 4 but I need to solve a few fingering problems.

    Lots of work in progress!

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    • Ron You are a wise man, Ron! Each of these really should be studied for several weeks at least. I hope we get to hear you play some more.

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      Ron Great Ron, thanks for your update! 

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  • Hey guys, here is my first take on Sketch VI, a commented Read-Through after approx. 10-20min of practicing it, I hope you can draw at least some value from that! 🥳🧙‍♂️🤓

    • Things you found easy: The rhythm guided me through the piece! Funny enough, the mixed shapes worked better for me as they were (mostly) diatonic, something that my hand is just used to play in repertoire! the 4ths and, minor 7ths worked fine as well, as I only needed to look at one of the notes, the second one easily fell into place!
    • Things you found difficult: It is super annoying to already know the rhythm of the piece but not the associated notes with that rhythm, usually it's the other way around! It makes this Sketch so frustrating to learn, because in every bar there might be something you miss because we tend to play it a little bit too fast in the beginning since we already know the rhythm. I realized in the first bars already, that this Sketch would need a careful eye for the details, possibly will change some fingerings!

    I will do a deep dive into the second half of the Sketches on Saturday (←click), I hope to see some of you there! 🥳

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    • Martin Thanks for doing this Martin! I love hearing what's going on in your mind as you work through the music. And yes, I did make it to the end. Sergio Assad is cool! What I received was much better than a pot of gold! 💰☘️

      P.S. I've been working on those Carlevaro thumb damping exercises you gave us. I have to do them SO SLOWLY! It's just not a motion my fingers are used to doing. Those will be part of my daily routine, for sure. Thanks for giving that to us!

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    • Martin great advices Martin, thanks for taking time to share this with us because Sergio Assad is cool!

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    • Martin Thanks Martin, great to hear your thinking and insights as you work through pieces. Yes he IS cool  ... and so are his compositions. Unfortunately I won't be able to make Saturday, but I will catch up on it later. I'm planning to work on the 2nd half of the sketches over the coming months!

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    • Martin I will be honest...I didn't make it through the whole video. 😥😉 Mostly because this piece seems really intimidating to me. I will watch when I get there. 👍

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  • Sketch VII (sort of). I explain what I'm up to here in the video.

    I call it Monkfish because that's a kind of fish that tastes a little like lobster, but is much less expensive (it's known as "poor man's lobster"). Sergio Assad's music is like lobster (i.e. the best). This is a little like Assad, but not as good. The score is attached below in a PDF.

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    • Eric Phillips Love the chord progression - great idea to do it that way. So I'm wondering what's next on the menu - maybe a Seabream Shanty or a Bass Barcarolle ...?

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    • Ron There something fishy about your comments, Ron!

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      Eric Phillips You wrote your own Sketch 🤯🤯🤯 You know, according to our Progress Track this is the original intention of Assad's "10 Sketches", to help student's craft their first compositions, so right on point on adapting the idea to your own chord progression (which sounds fantastic btw).

      I am happy to see that you're also struggling with 4:3 as I did, I 'll show some approaches on Saturday that'll help a bit hopefully!

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    • Martin Looking forward to it! I will have to watch that one later, unfortunately, but I will definitely watch it.

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    • Eric Phillips what a great idea to make it yours that way to better understand the parts you're struggling with, creativity in action again... bravo!

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    • Eric Phillips wow Eric! You have a very creative mind! I really like your chord progression! The use of minor second through out the piece brings out a special nice feeling to me, just like standing in front of a big sea.

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    • Blaise Laflamme Thank you, Blaise.

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    • Khiem Nguyen Thank you, Khiem. I love how something as simple as an interval can invoke emotions and images!

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  • Hello everyone! Hope you're all doing good. Here I post a video update on sketch V, I really enjoyed it! But I think I played it too fast 😅

     

    • One thing you found easy: Mostly enjoy playing this etude and the phrasing of the melodic lines.
    • One thing you found difficult: Perhaps not pressing on the right place some notes with my left hand sometimes, and in some occasions I also miss some notes with my right hand. If you have some suggestions or tricks Martin on how to improve accuracy in both hands, I would kindly appreciate if you tell them to us 🙂.

    Oh, and by the way, I'm trying to play currently without the pull bouy (the cushion I had in my earlier videos) and it's going pretty well I think. My back used to hurt a lot only with the footstool but now it's almost gone.

     

    https://youtu.be/GOgij5wAsLI

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    • Daniel Beltrán That was really great, Daniel! I think the tempo is good. I played it slower, but I think it gets tedious toward the end at my tempo. That's such a great piece of music!

      I have a lot of back problems today, and I think some of them have been caused by my use of a footstool for years (I also used to ride my bicycle on very long rides). So I strongly suggest taking care of your back now, not just with a guitar support (which is great) but also with stretching and exercises. I wish I had taken better care of my back earlier in life.

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    • Eric Phillips  Thanks a lot, Eric! And thanks as well for sharing with me that story and your suggestions. Since I started with the classical guitar, while practicing I've had a lot of  back pain. I was always using a footstool, but this year I began to add the pull bouy and it gave me a lot of relief. Now, thanks to an observation by my mom (she told me I didn't have my spine pararell) I'm feeling much better once I corrected it, perhaps I'll keep on testing that for a longer time, and I will try as well adding later the pull bouy 👍. But yeah, ideally I'd like to have a Guitarlift or an Ergoplay support. 

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    • Daniel Beltrán great take on this one! looks like you have affinities with faster tempo 😁. While I haven't got any pain because of my position and footstool, my chiropractor had to replace my pelvis at some point and I started using the Ergoplay, that changed my life a lot regarding my position while playing. OTOH the Ergoplay doesn't play well with some varnish/polish, that was my case, and I moved over the Sagework guitar support that uses magnets. It works like a charm and once installed it's easy to plug/unplug and it also position itself perfectly at the right place each time.

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    • Daniel Beltrán Hi Daniel - great job and I love the tempo. I stopped using a footstool years ago for the same reason and now use the Ergoplay which I find helps a lot. I still get back problems but they're always a result of lifting heavy stuff in the garden! (I have a very good chiropractor luckily - I'm off to see him tomorrow!)

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      Daniel Beltrán Hi made a little video with hopefully helpful advice concerning the accuracy of your right hand! Thanks to Eric Phillips and Blaise Laflamme for their comments on a healthy back, it's never too early to take good care of your back!

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    • Daniel Beltrán nicely played Daniel! :)

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    • Blaise Laflamme Thanks! I'm going to play it slower to achieve a better stability with Martin's recommendations 👍 Ok. Nice to know that detail of the Ergoplay, Blaise. Thanks!

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    • Ron Thanks, Ron! I'll keep on testing between the foostool only and adding the pull bouy. Hope your visit to the chiropractor went well!

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    • Martin Thanks a lot! 🙂 I'm going to practice the etude with those nicely detailed advices! 😀 I've been strugling with that aspect of my playing for quite a while now 😅 Normally, my teachers tell me not to plant with the right hand fingers (they almost refuse it), but in my experience in the virtuosity challenge it made my life a lot easier! Huge thanks, Martin! Gonna go practice in front of a mirror! 🙂

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    • Khiem Nguyen Thanks, Khiem! 

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    • Daniel Beltrán FYI I always had a mirror in my studio near where I practice to have an overview of what I'm doing, get one ASAP! 😂

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    • Daniel Beltrán I liked the tempo, and I think you did a good job with it. At that tempo it kind of reminded me of The Entertainer by Scot Joplin. 

      My experience with a foot stool didn't end well. I had a sciatic nerve issue develop after playing a gig for several hours. Since then I have been using a Dynarette cushion with great results.  

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    • Daniel Beltrán Beautiful work Daniel that really flowed, I'm surprised your getting back pains your posture looks really good to me, and you seem very relaxed. Im inspired by the way you memorise all your music. 👍  

      I have found guitar lifts ergo play etc are real game changers. My tension goes to my neck and shoulders and as Eric mentioned exercises - (stretching, core strength and breathing) are important.  

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    • Daniel Beltrán Bravo!!! 👍

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  • Hello friends,
    here's my progress on sketch #4 so far... that's a beautiful one for sure... the melody and harmonies are very well written in a «not too hard» piece to play... but hard to render indeed! Sergio really shines here and demonstrate how he's a genius and a master at composing for guitar!

     

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    • Blaise Laflamme Beautifully played, Blaise! You make the melody sound like it's dancing in a slow and relaxed way. I had to listen to it several times in a row just because I loved it so much.

      Like 2
    • Eric Phillips thank you Eric 🙏... I hear this piece a bit differently than how others play it as I can see... I feel it more like a 3/8 or 6/8 and that gives it a more dancing flow as you have noticed.

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      Blaise Laflamme wonderful, it sure is a beauty, but still only dots on a piece of paper! Your performance made those shine beautifully! 🌟

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    • Martin you're too kind... I'm happy you enjoyed it... it's also just fingers on strings 😂... 

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    • Blaise Laflamme Very beautiful Blaise! :) 👍

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    • Blaise Laflamme Tasty! Great work!

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    • Blaise Laflamme absolutely lovely bro! I could listen to that all day long, very soulful. Id love to hear you improvise on it.

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    • Jaime Zaldua thank you Jamie, well... that's an area I should explore more, I improvise about technique and patterns to help me learning a piece but not regarding melody and harmony. I'll give it a try if I have some time left after some of the last sketches.

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    • Blaise Laflamme Awesome Blaise I'd love to hear that, I've not come across these improvise parts before in classical - I'm really enjoying it - Im so exited to hear your later studies - your recordings are mind-blowingly good

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    • Blaise Laflamme Great, you were placed in the group of artists👋👋🎉

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    • Jaime Zaldua thank you... my vacations are not going as I thought so I hope to have enough time to do some more... but you should thanks Martin  for his tips and patience about recordings! 

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    • Giuseppe Gasparini thanks... but well... as soon as you express yourself with music I think you're already an artist, so you are my friend 🤗

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  • HI everyone, here is my third take for Sketch II. It is still a challenging sketch for me . What I am trying to achieve in this third take is to hold the notes for correct duration. I do not achieve all notes with full duration in this take, but I think most of them are, and it has improved compared to my previous takes of Sketch II. Hope you can give me feedback :) Thank you

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    • Khiem Nguyen That’s a big improvement, Khiem! Getting those highest notes to sustain over into the next measure is what makes this one both challenging and beautiful. You achieved that very well! 👋

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      Khiem Nguyen Bravo Khiem. it's super inspiring to watch your progress and dedication! Great job, it really starts to sing! 🥳

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    • Eric Phillips thank you and I agree with you Eric, when we can hold the notes for their full duration, they sing very beautifully. I start to enjoy the singing melody very much. 
      Martin thank you Martin! I am happy to hear your encouragement. And I want to continue my dedication! :)

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    • Khiem Nguyen great khiem! you're following Eric Phillips  path to consistency and dedication, fantastic to have you on board!

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    • Blaise Laflamme thank you Blaise. I really love the quality of the singing notes. I will keep up the hardwork :)

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    • Khiem Nguyen Bravo!!! 👋

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  • Monkfish (Sketch VII) Day 2.

    This is a video edit of variations 1-5. After the fifth variation, I hop down to the two-measure ending (measures 85-86). I cannot play variations 6 and 7 yet.

    I attached the score again if you want to look at it while listening.

    I must say, I'm having fun with this! It feels a bit like the composition challenge with Ashley earlier this year.

    Like 2
  • Diving a little bit into Sketch XI - Chord Shapes  & Arpeggios!

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    • Martin That's incredible for having worked on it for so short a time (I think you said one hour). Those are very rich chords. It reminds me of the chord voicings a jazz guitarist like Joe Pass would play.

      Thanks also for the bonus taste of Sketch VIII! 👍

      Like 1
    • Martin thanks for sharing your thoughts as you progress on this sketch, it's very informative. I'm looking forward to your next stream about the lasts sketches.

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      Blaise Laflamme Eric Phillips Thank you guys! I hope you enjoyed the stream about the last Sketches!

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    • Martin absolutely, you always provide us so much valuable information!

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  • Hey hey! I'm glad I could provide some comic relief in my first video! 😄 Perhaps this one will be a bit better. The main challenge I am having with this piece is to not be a perfectionist. I feel like I have definitely made progress on this one, but it is certainly not "error-less" just yet. I'm playing it at a speed I can handle it and have it still sound like music! 

    Easy: Comprehending the melody and harmonic structure and finding the beauty in the piece. 

    Difficult: emphasizing the accent on the "and of 4". 

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    • Steve Pederson Great work, Steve. It sounds really good. I like the guitar collection in the background! 

      Like 1
    • Eric Phillips Thanks! I'm fortunate to have a lot of guitars, but with the pandemic I've pretty much only played my classical. 😉

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    • Steve Pederson great sound and playing Steve, you're doing the right thing to play at a speed you can manage to some point what you're doing. I understand you, as a perfectionist, I had to change my mind about accepting to play without errors or until it's up to my taste or I wouldn't have recorded anything yet 😂

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    • Blaise Laflamme Thanks, and yes, done is better than perfect. The other thing I've found is that perfection is very subjective. I listened back to this recording that, while I was playing, seemed like I made a lot of mistakes. After listening back I thought, hmm, that wasn't as bad as I thought it was! 

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    • Steve Pederson you're totally right about subjectivity... and your performance is far from being bad! We tend to focus on small details while losing the overview, then we feel unsatisfied of the whole because of a few things. Normally after a few hours, or days, when you listen back it's more enjoyable.

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      Steve Pederson Hey Steve, that's a wonderful rendition of Sergio's Sketch II! I think it might help you to think more about your right hand fingerings! Sometimes you repeat the thumb, sometimes you play the two eight notes with a-m and sometimes with i-m or m-i! For me, the fingering for left and right hand provides the racing line through a piece, I am sure it will help you focus even more on the music once you dig into the fingerings 🥳

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  • I'm not very certain what I should do with the days left in this challenge. Pushing ahead to the later sketches does not seem wise as they are so far beyond my technique that I don't think it would serve me or the music that well. So, today I decided to go back to Sketch II. There are some fingerings in there that I knew I was not executing well, so I wanted to work on them some more.

    Here are the specific spots I worked on (see score below):

    • Measure 8. I paid close attention to the right hand, using the correct fingers and damping the low E string. With the left hand, I needed to make sure to use the pinky in anticipation of the next measure.
    • Measure 15. I made sure to damp the low E string again, and to use the third finger (LH) for the E.
    • Measure 40. Same as measure 8 above, but this time the ring finger (LH) needs to play the high G to keep the pinky free for the first note of the next measure. It's so simple, but trying to be attentive to that while also damping the bass I find to be very difficult. It feels like trying to pat my head and rub my tummy at the same time.
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    • Eric Phillips great Eric it flows pretty well! I also have to figure out what to learn for the remaining days, I already have started #5 and #7 and thinking about #9... I assimilate better when I learn 2 or 3 pieces at the same time, but that would be enough for the time I have till the end I think.

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    • Blaise Laflamme Thanks, Blaise. You've got the technique for those later pieces, I'm sure.

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    • Eric Phillips indeed, saying the opposite would be a lie... but they also need more time to learn and play 🤯 

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      Eric Phillips Great job and great eye for the details! As Blaise Laflamme says, I think it flows really well (though I was looking forward to the glissando maybe a little bit too much 🤓)! Awesome to see that you apply some damping techniques, how are the exercises going? 🥳

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    • Martin Thanks, Martin. I have been keeping up the damping exercises, and they are getting a very little bit better each day. It will take a while, but I know it’s something my fingers need to be able to do automatically so I’ll keep at it. 

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    • Eric Phillips Bravissimo!!! 👋

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  • Sketch 3. Okay, this is a first-time read-through. I only spent a minute looking over the music visually before attempting it. No where to go but up! 😉

    If you watch my face, it looks like one of those YouTube videos where people are reacting to a song they've heard for the first time. Hilarious! 😂

    Did anyone else notice that this sounded a bit like The Simpsons theme song? 😄 My wife even asked if I was learning The Simpsons song. 

    What was easy: The steady bass notes and the fairly consistent rhythm of the melody. 

    What was difficult: I wasn't expecting that high A in m. 4. Because I didn't reposition my left hand I wasn't ready for it. I will also need to work on the rests between the bass notes in the "metallic" section. 

    Like 4
    • Steve Pederson Good work, Steve! Maybe on the mistakes you should have said, “Doh!” (That’s a Simpsons reference. 😄)

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    • Eric Phillips 😂👍

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      Steve Pederson Damn, you are right! Nice Read-Through, those are very valuable in order to spot the points of interest!  Our hands tend to do their own thing, if there's no problem: keep going! But where we get stuck, that's where we want to look at! Though, at some point I always prefer to write down my fingering to have it as a visual reference 🧙‍♂️

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    • Steve Pederson 👍

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  • Hi Everybody..

    Beautiful work on these amazing etudes thanks everyone, couldn't resist but to get involved.

    I have been enjoying playing most of them and realised quickly 3 weeks is not long enough for me to get deep into all of these, I'd probably need 3 years. I've decided to start at no 1 all the same.

    I found that most of it went in my fingers quite easily and I enjoyed experimenting with different vibes and textures in the 4 parts. 

    I found some fingerings hard: LH 1st and 2nd finger on fret 1 and 3rd on fret 3. RH on the last section the chromatic bass run caused issues. I found it difficult getting it all to sit together in a performance.

    Enjoying this so much! Any feedback appreciated.

    One love   

    Like 4
    • Jaime Zaldua That was wonderful to listen to, Jaime! You have such nice control over your dynamics and tempo, and made it so musical. Thanks for joining in! 

      Like 1
    • Jaime Zaldua I'm happy you entered the challenge, I missed you... great take on this 1st sketch, sensitive as you always play... I hope you'll find time to submit others even if they're not perfect 👍

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      Jaime Zaldua Beautiful and welcome, we are super happy to have you here again! I really enjoyed the tempo and how you play through those sections with ease! I might look at some right hand fingerings in the last part, there are passages where you repeat a finger multiple times which is a common source of mistakes.

      I've attached my annotated score, maybe you'll find some inspiration in some of the fingerings. I also made a video in the Week One Updates Thread (I think).

      Like 2
    • Eric Phillips Thankyou Eric - thanks too for all of your updates I so admire your commitment and really enjoying hearing you progress so quickly.

      Like 1
    • Blaise Laflamme Thanks so much Blaise your a legend! I will be back with more sketches thanks for the confidence boost brother! 

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    • Martin Awesome Thankyou Martin! Really appreciate your feed back and your annotated copy of score - the repeating same finger is a old technique haunt of mine, I'm going to tackle that today! just the motivation I needed many thanks. 🙏 Your livestream was really useful and inspiring - I'm not often there live because it's the time I'm settling my kids down for bed but I watch them all. Wonderful wonderful work Martin Thankyou. 

      Like
    • Jaime Zaldua Bravooo!!! 👋

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  • All very good, congratulations🎉🎉

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