The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #93371   Message #1796521
Posted By: Don Firth
29-Jul-06 - 07:18 PM
Thread Name: Beginner Guitar Tips?
Subject: RE: Beginner Guitar Tips?
Ricarco Iznaola, director of the conservatory program and chair of the guitar and harp department at Denver University's Lamont School of Music, has written a number of books and manuals for classical guitar, but much of what he says about practice applies to just about any musical instrument. In his little book, On Practice, he suggests that rather than thinking in terms of daily practice, the time-unit of practice should be the week. Set a goal that you want to accomplish that week and decide what you need to work on to accomplish that goal. Then, at the end six days, evaluate your progress, determine if you have accomplished your goal or not, then decide what you need to do the following week. Do you need to work on the same things some more, or can you move on to some new?

He says, "The week should consist of six days only, with a seventh day of rest from practice (although you may play all you want that day!)." In short, all work and no play, and all that. Have some fun with the instrument. Goof around. You can never tell what you might learn in the process.

Very important! Keep your hands relaxed. Most guitarists mash the fingerboard much harder than they need to, and this inhibits the left hand, slowing it down. When fretting the strings, don't use more pressure than you need. Put a left hand finger on a string and press it down very lightly toward the fret (behind the fret, of course). Play the string with the right hand. At first, it shouldn't sound, other than a dull "fump!" Gradually increase the pressure on the string until the note rings clearly. You'll notice that you don't really have to drive the string into the fingerboard. Practicing this a bit will give you a good feel for just how light you can keep your left hand. That'll pay off later in speed and dexterity.

Lots of folks seem to hate scales, but they're what music is made of:   notes, played individually and played together. I think practicing scales is kinda fun. Besides, you'll need 'em for bass runs, picking out melody lines, and such. Arpeggios:   that's playing the notes of chord one at a time. Knowing a handful of arpeggio patterns can come in handy for song accompaniments. There are a few classic guitar technique books that have loads of arpreggio patterns in them, but they're not that hard to invent. Alternating bass finger-picking is actually a mixture of different arpeggio patterns.

Cautionary note:   Early on, I wanted to learn alternating bass finger-picking so badly I could taste it, and when I finally ran into someone who showed me some basic patterns, I practiced them so constantly and intensely that after a week or ten days, I started getting cramps in my right hand and my thumb developed an involuntary twitch. I had to lay off the guitar entirely for several days. Don't overpractice!

Good luck. Have fun!

Don Firth