Group 4

Are you tired of struggling with the complexities of guitar-playing? Good news – most guitar music relies on a small number of key technical building blocks. This upcoming two-week intensive program will dive into these building blocks and offer a systematic approach to improving your foundational skills on the guitar. By breaking down the technical intricacies of guitar-playing into a handful of essential movements, we’ll be providing exclusive insights and exercises that can help you overcome the most common difficulties. With practice and dedication, these exercises can become an integral part of your regular warm-up routine, unlocking your potential to better express your musical ideas.

Details

  • Sign-Up: March 15th
  • Course Period: March 20th - March 31st
  • Check-In via Zoom: March 23 & March 30, 10am PST

Assignment (week 1)

The video below introduces the course and presents 6 exercises aimed at developing essential 'building blocks' of guitar playing. Aim to practice each every day as part of your warmup routine for 2~4 minutes. This should result in an overall 15~30 min practice block.

 

The exercises presented are:

exercise 1a - apoyando/tirando alternation of single fingers (i-i-i... m-m-m... a-a-a...)

exercise 1b - tirando alternation of small groups (m-i, i-m, a-m, m-a, a-i, i-a)

exercise 2 - apoyando alternation across first three strings

exercise 3 - 'quasi' slurs

exercise 4 - chromatic scales

exercise 5 - shifting

exercise 6 - extensions

 

If you aren't able to consistently complete all exercises or if it takes too long, select whichever you think will be the most beneficial ones for you (e.g. 1-4). Remember that it is better to practise shorter but regularly than to practice longer but less frequently. Keep track of your practice! This will allow you to later asses how useful a change to your practice routine has been.

 

Assignment // Week 1

 

Assignment // Week 2

 

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  • Zoom Check-in Session No. 1 // recording

    Thursday 23rd March https://youtu.be/3Z1lHBoGSkE

    Like 3
    • Emmanuel thank you!

      Like 1
    • Stefanie Mosburger-Dalz My pleasure:)

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  • Hi everyone, here's week 2: https://youtu.be/QUF6Ty1b1ys

    A (slightly) shorter video than last week:) Happy practising! (yes, it's with an 's' in UK).

    See you on Thursday, E

    Like
  • Zoom Check-in Session No. 2 // recording

    Thursday 30th March https://youtu.be/UWoHUnbhVUs

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    • Emmanull
    • Emma
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    Hello participants and thank you  Emmanuel. I will do my warm up this week using this routine 

    Like 2
    • Great to have you, Emma !

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  • Greetings everyone. I'm a beginner, self-taught for a few months now. Looking forward to getting as much as I can over the next couple weeks and sharing the experience with you all. Thanks for offering this.

    Like 3
    • Erik Svenson  It's a pleasure to be sharing with you as you start your musical journey. Welcome!

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  • Hello everyone!
    I've been playing guitar off and on for many years but only had about 3 years of serious instruction years ago and then recently about 1.5 years instruction. I am a working professional in the Tech industry and learning classical guitar has resurfaced as my main hobby. I have ~1.5 hours a day to devote to it and am trying to maximize that time. I hope this intensive helps toward that end.

    Like 1
    • It's good to have you join us, Stephen Darrell Oliver ! I hope the exercises might help on your journey with the guitar. Devoting only 15~30 mins a day to the exercises should hopefully still leave you plenty of time to enjoy some music-making each day:)

      Like
    • David
    • David.39
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    Hello. I am also a beginner using materials on Tonebase to learn. I am looking forward to this intensive. Thank you!

    Like 1
    • Welcome, David . Looking forward to these two weeks with you all!

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  • Just watched your video. Very helpful. I do most of this in some form or other nearly every day. I have mostly stayed at the low end of the neck to reenforce my ability to stretch, particularly the 4th finger. However, tone-quality isn't great. Seems like it would be better to move higher up the neck and ensure my sound quality is what i want before going back down toward the end Thoughts on that?

    Like 1
    • Erik Svenson Glad the video was helpful! I'd say the main thing is to ensure that your L.H. fingers are always aiming to be as close to the frets (the actual metal bars) as possible, without actually being over them. This decreases the necessary pressure to minimise buzzing and should consequently improve your tone. For this reason, starting in higher positions is indeed ideal! I would encourage you to start where it is easiest and work your way down progressively... you might notice progress over the course of a few days, an entire week, and beyond.

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    • Erik Svenson Here is an example with an image I found online... we are only focusing on the placement on the frets here: notice that fingers 3 and 4 are too far back on the fret – this requires far greater pressure to avoid buzzing. Finger 1 is almost *on* the fret, which can dampen the sound. Finger 2 is ideally placed!

       

      When practising your L.H. exercises ('quasi' slurs, extensions, or almost anything really), you can always aim for that ideal spot on the fret (like finger 2 in the image).

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  • I enjoyed your presentation. The "exercise" video was very informative and logical.

    You explained and demonstrated them with clarity.  I will practice them this week and more. 

    Thanks

    Peter

    Like 1
    • peter hancock Very glad to hear that, Peter – thank you. Best wishes with your practice!

      Like
    • David
    • David.39
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    Great basic technical warmup for me to work on. I typed it out and attached my notes in case that's a useful record. I am looking forward to interactive session to see if I am understanding the material. Thank you for a great video.

    • David wow

      Like 1
      • Deb Covellnull
      • Long term hobby guitar player and one time guitar builder
      • Deb
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      David great addition to the video, thanks David

      Like 1
    • David Wow – thank you so much for this, David! This synthesises so much of what is presented extremely well. I am sure everyone here will find it incredibly useful! 🎶

      Like 1
    • David
    • David.39
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    I had a couple of question come up that maybe I can ask about in the Zoom session:

    Exercise 1: I feel I need to shift my arm forward to get my knuckle further past the string going between apoyando and tirando so as to avoid the lower string. For this exercise, I try to position the knuckle in midpoint between the two extremes. Is some shift of the knuckle joint natural if playing entirely tirando, or apoyando without the alternation between the two stroke types? (How does playing without nails affect this exercise?)

    Exercise 2: Could you explain the "avoidance of string crossings" on the ascending pattern a bit more in the session?

    Exercise 3: If repeating the quasi-slur between two notes repeatedly with each note of equal duration, is the motion in the downward and upward quasi-slur the same? 

    Exercise 5: Does the thumb release, but also anticipate the shift by moving slightly ahead of the fingers in the direction of the shift? 

    Exercise 6: I struggle with the 3rd finger extension of Exercise 6 in position IV. I can do the extension for finger 3 in position VIII or IX  with the same effort as for finger 1 or 4 in position IV. Does the flexibility between fingers 2 and 3 come with time and is there some gentle exercise to help make the second-to-third finger mobility more like that in the other finger pairings?

    Like 1
    • David Great questions!

       

      1) Your intuition to break the difference is well-guided. However, I would tend to look for the ideal position for a tirando stroke which *just about* misses the lower string. Then, from this position, explore how to allow your fingers to play rest stroke as smoothly as possible (for me, this is achieved by slightly softening the tip joint). This took time for me and often required a lot of patience (that is - I would occasionally get a little frustrated by the lack of fine control over my finger movements)... But hang in there – it DOES pay off.

      Now, these are exercises meant to address weaknesses head-on and encourage good habits without the added challenge of making beautiful music. However, in 'real life' we can allow ourselves a little leeway in repositioning the R.H for all-tirando or all-apoyando passages. A very slight adjustment can often increase our security and we do not want to be struggling while making music.

      (Can't speak to playing without nails with much experience, but happy to have a look at how you manage during the Zoom call and see if I can find anything particular to comment on. Feel free to ask during the session.)

       

      2) When going from, let's say, string 3 to string 2, this transition is easier and more natural to be performed with i-m, rather than m-i. The reason is mainly because of the diagonal presentation of our R.H. in regard to the strings which makes the index sit quite naturally above the 3rd string and the middle above the 2nd string.  To a lesser degree, the difference in length of the fingers is also a contributing factor (i, being shorter, would need to stretch over to play the second string). For this reason, all other things being equal (which they rarely are...) it is advantageous to avoid as many string crossings as possible when planning out our fingerings for a piece. (However, exercise 4 does get you to tackle string crossings in the ascending segments of the chromatic scale – this can be good to practise for those occasions when we might need to do string crossings in a piece).

       

      3) When executed on a single string, ascending and descending 'quasi' slur patterns end up indeed being physically the same – upwards and downwards at a 90-degree angle from the fingerboard (this would not be the case if we did 'real' descending slurs which release sideways). However, even if the movement is the same in an ascending or descending pattern, I find that there is *still* a psychological difference when pairing the movement as, let's say, 1-2 vs 2-1 (a common pitfall is that we tend to shorten the first of two slurred notes, something for which we can keep an ear out in each combination). Then, an actual physical difference arises when moving across strings – here, the finger stretching over across the fingerboard will be different in the ascending or descending patterns.

       

      5) The thumb doesn't need to anticipate the shift, which would result in a more complex hand movement with little or no benefit. I would encourage you to keep the thumb's movements simple and direct – on and off the neck and usually somewhere around the height of the second finger (some say between 2-3). There are some exceptions to this. For example, if you have a passage with many consecutive small shifts, you may group them under a single 'thumb position'... this results in the thumb being still while the fingers move around a bit. A classic example is playing parallel intervals (3rds, 6ths) up and down the fingerboard.

       

      6) Spot on – 2-3 is the less flexible combination. I think you've found it yourself – playing this particular combination in higher positions is perfectly reasonable. Flexibility does come with time, not by sheer repetition, but by becoming increasingly aware of what to hold steady and what to relax in a stretch (what I mention in the video as being aware of the 'stable' or 'core' part of the hand in any given stretch)... once you have that, then yes – practising the exercise regularly should definitely help.

       

      If anything was unclear or I misunderstood any of your questions, do feel free to raise them again in the session:) Happy practising!

      Like 2
      • David
      • David.39
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Emmanuel Thank you very much for the detailed reply and helpful explanations! I’m looking forward to the session. I have a follow-up question on shifts: on the bass strings, are the LH finger-to-string friction noises generally considered “errors” if they occur unintentionally (and acceptable if the shift is marked as a glissando)? I attempted the exercise on a bass string, but heard “noise” unless I let my guide finger leave the string slightly. Before going further, I thought it would be helpful to better understand the expectations for shifting on bass strings when it occurs in classical pieces. 

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