Week 2: Technique work that shines in your pieces 🌻

Welcome to Week Two of "Change your Habits, Change your Playing" with Phil Goldenberg! This is the thread for posting your submissions and assignments for the second week!

Watch the Livestream here!

Assignment:

Find a tough technical spot in one of your pieces. Using one of the techniques we talked about in the livestream, make an exercise out of it. Post a video of the spot, and of the exercise that helped you.

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  • Technique Exercises from Sor's Andante Largo measure 3

    Here are some exercises I could work on using this little snippet. Let me know your thoughts.

    Like 2
    • Eric Phillips Hey Eric, awesome work! One thing I'm thinking for when you're working the scale is that you're only doing 6 notes, when very often the hardest part of the scale is the downbeat at the end. I love all the exercises you're coming up with, but I would try to include the 7th note of the G and E at the end. As for the double stops, its great that you can really focus on the movement of the hand when doing RH alone. One method that I use to steady my right hand is to do RH alone practice while my LH holds my right hand. This can be a full grab from the LH holding the back of the palm of your RH, or it can just be a single finger on the back of your palm. The thing we're trying to get from that exercise is awareness of how high the hand is trying to jump, and to what degree we can control it. This method is not about forcing the RH not to jump, its just about recognizing a feeling in an external (external meaning LH feels how high the RH jumps) way the unconscious movements of the RH. Happy practicing!

      Like 1
    • Phil Goldenberg Thanks for the feedback, Phil. Adding the downbeat at the end of the scale makes a lot of sense. I see no way to do this without repeating a finger (in this case, repeating i). It is definitely important to practice it like that.

      As for the suggestion about my RH practice, I actually found that it only hopping a little bit upward. For some reason, I have more of a hop when I do it on open strings than when I do it with the left hand included. Since the most important thing is to have it in control when playing the actual music, I decided not to make that a focus as I work on this piece.

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    • don
    • don.2
    • 5 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Phil Goldenberg Just finish watching your live stream. Thanks once again. Just a suggestion if you could put up those references in the main screen instead of typing in the chat, that way people who stream it later will be able to see. Got a question, wouldn't it more efficient to take a snippets of the trouble spots and do focus study than creating an exercise for it that merely resemble the trouble spots? Thanks!

    Like 1
    • don Hey Don, good idea, I will make that happen for next week. For this week, the books I referenced were Ricardo Iznaola's Kitharalogus and Abel Carlevaro's Serie Didactica.

      Like 1
    • don Whoops, just saw the second part of your question: these methods are a way to get a problem spot ready to do regular 3-minute focused practice. If you are doing 3-minute practice sessions and are finding that you're still having issues being successful, and the technical problem is not improving, then these methods can help make spots even easier and allowing you to increase your success rate!

      Like 1
      • don
      • don.2
      • 5 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Phil Goldenberg Thanks Phil! It is really hard to squeeze in more time. Following your advice from week 1. I already have 8 x 3 mins spots and I'm really starting to see huge improvements. Thanks!

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  • Following another excellent live stream by Phil, here are two study exercises derived from two pieces that I am currently studying, the first is a fragment (3 1/2 measures) from Abel Carlevaro's Preludio Americano #4, Ronda.  The second is a fragment (1 1/5 measures) from Abel Carlevaro's Capricho.  Both fragments were sections of the pieces that I had identified as "spots" to use the three-minute practice approach that Phil introduced last week. I have now turned them into short study exercises, giving some variety to that three-minute drill.  

    Like 1
    • Dale Needles Hey Dale! Very cool repertoire. I see you're using the up and down the neck method, which is great. I would also try mixing in some LH alone practice, and even more importantly some RH alone practice to really kick your memory work into high gear. Happy practicing!

      Like 1
    • Phil Goldenberg Thanks for the suggestions. I have never really spent much time practicing either RH or LH alone so will give it a try this week.  Also, glad you like the repertoire selection.  As you might have guessed, I am a huge admirer of Carlevaro's music and his School of Guitar. Finally, I want to let you know that you will not see much of me posting to the challenge over the next two weeks since I will be on vacation but will definitely check out your next two live streams. 

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  • Hi everyone!

    I gave up trying to play Leyenda years ago because I couldn't get this passage- mm 17-24. I've never seen a lesson on this piece that addresses this particular issue so makes me feel like I'm the only person who struggles with this and don't know how to go about correcting it. The exercises I try to do to help are the finger independence exercises from Pumping Nylon which I do every day. I can do them fairly well but this problem is not getting solved. For the last few days I've been trying the 3 minute routine and playing slowly trying to feel the areas of tension in my hand. Sometimes I try to play even just the first three notes but that doesn't address what happens with the 4th finger sliding about and the 2nd finger having too much tension. It's like a perfect storm of fingers not cooperating and is very discouraging.

    So, here is my SOS to Phil Goldenberg  and the community.

    Ciao, 

    Debbie

    Like 1
    • Debbie Hey Debbie! One thing to remember is that there is no picture of a perfect technique we can point to and say "Make your hand look like this and you'll be able to play anything!" Everyone's hands and fingers are different, and because of that different techniques work for different people. If you find that having your thumb higher on the neck makes this section easier for you, that's awesome! All of our examples of "perfect technique" are just general ideas anyway, a good neutral position to come home to, rather than a rigid structure you must adhere to. 

       

      Bearing that in mind, here is a possible way to shift your thinking. Pick up a pencil and hold it only with your fingertips and the pad of your thumb. Notice that if you're really on the tips of all 4 fingers, your 1st and 4th fingers come in at an angle towards each other, and your 2nd and 3rd fingers sit straight down. Thats a natural position for your hand, and in that position you can spread your finger tips pretty wide. Now, roll the pencil close to the palm of your hand, so that your fingertips are still on top but the pencil is resting on the bottom part of your thumb (emulating what its like to have your thumb higher on the fretboard). You'll see all your fingertips are coming straight down, but its incredibly difficult to spread your fingers apart. Use this information how it serves you, remembering that you don't need to chose between two extremes. You can bring your thumb slightly up, or slightly down depending on whether you value the stability of having your fingers close together and straight, or if you need the flexibility and stretchiness of having your thumb lower on the neck. The thumb doesn't need to be glued down in any one spot - you can even move it around in a single phrase if it serves your technique! The pictures and examples we see in technique books are just generally good and neutral places to leave the thumb most of the time for most people, not necessarily laws. Hope that helps, happy practicing!

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    • Phil Goldenberg thanks Phil. Moving my thumb up and down is one of the solutions I was trying but wasn’t sure if that was a good way to go about it. So your answer helps there. But the pinky still tends to slide back a forth. I will keep at it. 

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  • Here is my update to my last post. I've created my own exercise to address my particular issue. The challenge is to keep the 4th finger from sliding around and to keep unused fingers as relaxed as possible. I'm not there yet but I am seeing improvement. Phil Goldenberg  what do you think of this exercise?

    Like 1
    • Debbie Hey Debbie - nice exercise! I like the vertical stretch of it up and down the fretboard. I hope this is helping. Another way I would work it is to attack the horizontal axis as well - for example:

       

      4th on 7th fret of High E the whole time

      3rd on the 6th fret of B

      2nd on the 5th fret of G

      1st on the 4th fret of D

      2nd on the 5th fret of A

      3rd on the 6th fret of E

      2nd on 5th fret of A

      1st on 4th fret of D

      2nd on 5th fret of G

      3rd on 6th fret of B

       

      And then variations! For example:

       

      4th on 7th of E the whole time

      2nd on 5th fret of B

      1st on 4th fret of G

      2nd on 5th fret of D

      3rd on 6th fret of A

      2nd on 5th fret of E

      1st on 4th fret of A

      2nd on 5th fret of D

      3rd on 6th fret of G

      2nd on 5th fret of B

       

      Happy practicing!

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    • Phil Goldenberg thank Phil! Great suggestions. I look forward to tackling these. I will prevail! 😄

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  • Phil, I saw both your livestreams and find them really inspiring. I’m can’t do any recordings now, (first on holiday and now traveling up and down to my newborn granddaughter) . I’m practicing Mertz’ Elegy and followed Giulia Ballare’s advice, to partly damp strings with a sponge to separate the different voices. But now I started to implement your tip to damp all strings. This really helps a lot to check the accuracy, exactness of the attack - in slow chord sequences at the beginning as well as in the fast arpeggios in 32-notes later. Also to check the rhythmic exactness of the embellishments with 16ths and 16th triplets combined. Thank you for these livestreams. 

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