I learned how to make my practice efficient when I studied with Maestro Abel Carlevaro. He had a great aberration for "traditional exercises" because he noticed that the player seldom knew what the exercise was meant to improve. Plus, the work was not centered around the specific technique that one wanted to improve and this reduced the amount of focus and efficiency.
Carlevaro developed a concept called "make your own exercise" and made it "his religion". Whenever I or one of his students asked him:
- "How do I overcome this?"
The answer was the same:
- "Make an exercise" ("make" is the keyword).
It works like this. You find a difficult passage in a piece, you isolate the obstacle, you create an exercise to develop the skill to overcome the difficulty.
Some of the exercises I worked with Carlevaro are legendary. They cover essential aspects of technique and build up the musculature of the hands. They improve synchronization and correct the posture of the performer.
I will accompany each exercise with series of instructions that must be followed rigorously or the exercise may result in the acquisition of a defect rather than a virtue. This is essential! These exercises are not meant to be played fast but precisely.
The basic rule is to do the model very slowly at first without making mistakes. Remember: you are in a "lab of guitar technique" and what is essential is that you mix the elements correctly and obtain the desired final product.
I will list exercises that have a strict relation with the repertoire I teach in the masterclasses section. The exercises are not listed by degree of difficulty and they are to be approached by both novice and professional players. In time, you will find a handful of these that you will play always especially before beginning to play because they will immediately get you focused and warmed up.
I suggest you use a metronome to play these exercises. Increase the tempo gradually. You must play all these exercises daily to see the benefits.
1: The Concept of Making Your Own Exercise
Learn How to make your own exercise. This exercise is very challenging and it must be performed with extreme precision and not producing any left hand squeaks. This is the main objective, therefore, if you fail at this you have failed 100%. Start with a metronome setting of 66 or slower and increase until you reach 80. Play the exercise on the 6th because this will augment the work of the deltoids (muscle in the picture) and will put in the spotlight faulty moved by making unwanted squeaks very easy to detect. You can start with one note per beat (quarter note) or with the 2 8th note I propose. The different figures force you to stay in the position to the last instant reducing the time to perform the change of position (Real challenge). I recommend you play the exercise on the 6, 5 and 4th strings only. Concentrate the work in the Shoulder area.
2: Practice Habits
Objective: Master your practice. I constantly stress this truth: The players who practice well, play well. The players that practice like masters, play like masters. Look at the video I offer and then read the chapter on "Classical Guitar Practice" several times and take your time to fully understand the concepts therein explained because they are essential to your progress as a guitar player. Read more →
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