Week 1 - Technical Foundation // May 3

Welcome to the Main Thread for the first week of the virtuosity challenge! This is the place to discuss the Week 1 livestream and post your Week 1 practice updates.


Download the sheet music: in this first week, we will be working with materials from my right-hand technique workshop. Download them here:

Right-hand exercise book (<- click)

See the pinned post below for a specific practice guide featuring all the exercises we talked about during today's livestream!


Since this challenge is all about virtuosity, video updates are more highly encouraged than usual. Feel free to upload the video in the reply OR simply link to your YouTube video.

 

YouTube video submissions CAN be unlisted. Just make sure they're not set on "private", so we can actually see them.

 

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

  • Exercise(s) you have been working on:
  • Things you found easy:
  • Things you found difficult:

↓ Reply below with your submissions and questions! ↓

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  • Dear Mircea,

    Like 3
      • Marek Tabisznull
      • retired guitar teacher
      • Marek_Tabisz
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Giao Pham your videos are in private mode, so we cannot see them..

      Like
    • Marek Tabisz Sorry! My bad. Just made them public. Thanks.

      Like 1
    • Giao Pham Bravo!!!👋

      Like
      • MirceaTeam
      • Head of Guitar
      • Mircea
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Giao Pham great job! I particularly like how the thumb acts as a guiding finger while not getting tensed up much when you change strings. That's great!

      If I were to nitpick, one thing I've noticed is that your wrist tends to move a bit - more so when you do repeated notes rather than chromatic scales down.

      If you could try to visualize your wrist as being a stationary point (not tensing it up), from which only the fingers move underneath it, that might allow you to achieve greater stability.

      If practicing in front of a mirror, perhaps it's worth keeping an eye on the movement of this area here:

      Like
  • Like 3
      • MirceaTeam
      • Head of Guitar
      • Mircea
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Giao Pham great job! Well done on posting these, and on doing them so well!

      Quick thought in 1A: you did a really good job of fixing the dynamic balance between different strings after the first couple of tries. If you keep practicing this and aiming for a good balance between all notes, you'll be able to achieve that balance straight from the get-go!

      Great preparation in all the other exercises!

      Like
  • Ok here’s a warts-and-all update!😅 5B is a fantastic exercise but very confusing for the hands. I would’ve liked to polish this a bit more before uploading, but I wanted to post something before the next livestream. 

    https://youtu.be/R1iubPLHyDI

    Like 4
    • Andrew Bracken Bravo!!!👋

      Like 1
    • Andrew Bracken Nice rest strokes

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      • MirceaTeam
      • Head of Guitar
      • Mircea
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Andrew Bracken great job!! Thank you for posting this, Andrew! It's really sounding and looking great! Here is some more targeted advice:

       

      3A: very fluid movement and stable palm, wonderful job here! If I may be allowed to nitpick the tiniest of details: this is really hard to tell via YouTube, but I feel like the string is sliding through your nail a liiittle bit better on your m finger than on your i.

      We're getting into some pretty advanced stuff here, but basically, I feel like the m has an easier time going through a larger portion of its surface on the string than i does. This is normal - nobody's fingers are perfectly even. Mine do this (or rather, the opposite) too.

      To fix this, when you play with i, try to consciously force it to "catch more string" than m does. This can be achieved by visualizing that you're touching the string further left (more sul tasto) with the i than the m, or simply by imagining more of the surface of the i touching the string before letting go.

      This will slow you down somewhat, but it will enable you to have that super consistent, creamy tone on both fingers even at fast speeds. Because tempo is nothing without security, and this can give that evenness of sound that feels so satisfying in the end.

      Again, this is a super minor thing, but you're playing well enough that I feel comfortable talking about such minute details.

       

      5B: Sounding great! Try to not move the palm too far left and right since you're only playing these two top strings.

      At the end, when you get to the last 2-3 patterns, don't forget that every measure has a repeat sign on it! It's easier to make all these string changes work if you repeat each chord as the sheet music says. 

      Like
    • Igornull
    • Igor.2
    • 3 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    Hi everyone. I´ll try to keep this short.

    First of all, thank you and congratulations to all of you who have sent your videos and comments. I´m so busy these days that I´ve barely had time to have a look at the thread. Today I´ve seen it all.

     

    Mircea: I´ve been practicing (and teaching) your exercises since lockdown-facebook times. They were new for me and I struggled like everyone else. I general, I think preparing is GOOD and helps us with many technical issues. In my case, the problem is related to rhythm, not speed. I mean, some arpeggios are fast enough, but rythmicaly aren´t as good as with no planting. I suppose it´s a matter of keeping practising.


     

    Like 2
      • MirceaTeam
      • Head of Guitar
      • Mircea
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Igor Thank you so much, Igor! Happy to hear that practicing this has been helpful.

      You're right! Practice is the way to go. If preparing takes a really big toll on your rhythmic accuracy, perhaps the movement has not been fully internalized yet, and it still causes some sort of tension that takes your hand a while to get rid of. You can always send in a video update for a quick check-in, if you're having trouble with that or anything else!

      Like
  • Hi - here is a video of me discussing some issues I had changing to full planing and rest strokes on a study I have always done sequential planing and free strokes with. I feel I get more security with the new techniques but it'w affecting my memory muscles in playing compared to the old way.  Any comments I would be grateful. Regards Dennis

    Like 4
      • MirceaTeam
      • Head of Guitar
      • Mircea
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Dennis Greensmith hi Dennis! You are making such good points, thanks for uploading this! This has been very fun to watch, almost like having a chat with you through video - like sending each other letters, except they are in video form rather than text.

      Alright, I have a couple of comments! 

      First of all, I think it's wonderful that you're finding more stability in preparation now, after having done these exercises for a while. It takes a while for these effects to kick in, but when you feel that incredible stability and relaxation that preparation can cause (if done correctly), it's very hard to go back. Same goes for the rest stroke vs free stroke question!

      Couple of notes here: 

      • Musically, both options sound exactly the same. Normally, when we debate whether preparation is appropriate for a given passage, we must take into account the fact that preparation will stop the resonance of certain strings earlier than non-prep. However, in this case, your left hand is changing positions anyway, and you are using barres - therefore, the notes will be cut off no matter which version you choose. In this kind of situation, how playing this makes you feel is the only thing that matters.
      • Technically, I see there is a little bit of tension in your hand before you play, namely on the right side of your RH palm. This is causing the pinky to stick out a little, and also causing the notes to sound quite percussive at times (or "slapped"). This could be partially because of the strings / guitar you are using, however, I think there is a technical reason for it, too. Compare your hand at 4:43, when you are not getting ready to play (first screenshot), with your hand at 3:08, when you are just about to play (second screenshot). You see that extra tension in your right hand, expressed through the pinky sticking out?
      • Working on eliminating that will help with everything, and practicing with preparation is a great way to achieve that (in fact, I think that's the reason you've been feeling more secure with preparation lately - I think it's already started happening). When you place your hand on right hand your string, and you're just about to play, use your left hand to wiggle your pinky around a little (without moving your right hand). Then, when you play, look at your right hand and make sure the pinky is not getting tensed up again. Trying to eliminate that extra bit of tension should help with everything! Just a super-quick thought I had while watching your video.
      Like
    • Mircea thank you Mircea and for taking the time to watch and analyse. Yes I'm often finding my pinky outstretched in playing. Strangely enough the one place I cured the habit was tremolo technique where I could outstretch the pinky as the tremolo wouldn't work.  You are correct - it's part tension (nerves as well when putting my self on video)  and part just a bad habit I need to cure. Many thanks again Dennis

      Like 1
    • Debbie
    • Debbie
    • 3 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    This is my second post for week one. The first one is 1C. Blaine and I were discussing how full plant affects the legato. I think the slower you go the more you hear it. But once you go faster I find it gives me stability and accuracy and I don’t hear a cut in sound. Either that or I’m deaf, 😂  
     

    Next exercise is 4e. I feel more comfort and speed. The hardest part about the R hand for me is maim in the middle of the pattern. Even though this isn’t fast I can’t even play it this fast with the left hand of the Villa-Lobos Etude so that will be a big challenge for me.

     

    The rest of the exercises I made tiny progress in speed. 3A 84-88, 

    3B 84-100, 3C 84-90, 5A 84-94.

    I’d like to see more improvement but I know that takes time and consistency. 
     

    Like 2
      • Debbie
      • Debbie
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view
      Like 3
    • Debbie This is a good job,Brava!!! 👍

      Like
      • Marek Tabisznull
      • retired guitar teacher
      • Marek_Tabisz
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Debbie Very good! In my life I was not as urgent as you! I envy a structured and well-organized exercise! 🙂👍

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    • Debbie Nice job Debbie!

      Like
      • MirceaTeam
      • Head of Guitar
      • Mircea
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Debbie this is so great, Debbie!!

      That's right - people overestimate just how noticeable the loss of resonance is that occurs through preparation! You are not deaf! (haha 😄) We tend to practice things slowly, and doing preparation (especially bad preparation, that takes us out of tempo or causes noises or tension) can feel like a really big sacrifice at that point.

      But when we actually go and speed things up, it becomes almost unnoticeable - and in fact, in many cases, it helps prevent us from mixing harmonies from different chords, in arpeggio pieces that rely on patterns.

      In other cases, it helps create a really cool rhythmical "groove", where notes don't just haphazardly sound all over the place - rather, through preparation, everything can sound more "purposeful".

      Great job on all the exercises in here! Thank you for submitting this!

      Like
  • I worked on all exercises . Not so much time this week.Today I recorded a few. They’re still uploading. Don’t know why it takes so much time. Here are 3C and 5B.

    I have a time problem and nail issue, because of y moving this month from Czech Republic to Belgium. I’ll do my best to follow up on the challenge 

    Like 2
      • Daniel Beltránnull
      • Student at the Universidad de Los Andes in Mérida
      • Daniel.3
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      joosje great work Joosje! let's wait for Mircea's answer. I hope you don´t experience more nail problems and that you keep on with the challenge this following weeks! Really like your organization. 

      Like
    • joosje Brava!!! 👋👋

      Like
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