I. The Approach: Introduction to Fingerboard Mechanics.
Wearily I open my prayer book,
Sepia photograph of sage on amber page,
Flaming raven Sanskrit, strange syllables,
Intone, chant, repeat.
Number vows with beads:
Every resolution is inspiration petrified.
First Things First: Homework! --
Robert Fripp Sets The AGENDA.
"Your ability to play music on the guitar depends to a large extent
on how well you know the instrument. Most guitarists have never had
a chance to learn the instrument in an intelligent, logical and
Begin to acquire this understanding of the guitar by conducting a survey of the instrument's historical development, from its evolution as vihuela and lute during Medieval and Renaissance times to its refinement in the Baroque era and perfection in the 19th Century. Believe it or not, having this knowledge will give you psychological mastery over the guitar at the outset since you'll come to understand the instrument's limitations in terms of design, construction, and musical range, and, also, as a result of knowing what a guitar is made to do and why, its advantages over its cousin, the piano.
Knowing how a guitar is built will add volumes to your understanding of the instrument. So, please, take my word for it and consult Ralph Denyer's THE GUITAR HANDBOOK and Chapman's THE COMPLETE GUITARIST for an intense historical discussion of the guitar's evolution.
"We begin the possible and gradually move towards the impossible.
This implies knowing where we are, knowing where we are going (that
is, being clear of our aim), knowing what we have to do to get there,
and knowing what resources we may draw upon.
*"Do one small thing superbly, then move to the next. In a
relatively short time, all of these small things will become the body
of our playing.
*"Find a teacher, or instructor. This will save time. A good player
is self-taught, with the help of a teacher. The real value of a
qualified instructor is a personal and direct connection to a school
*"Our practice may usefully be divided into four:
1. Calisthenics. This is the efficiency and sense of grace within
effortless physical movement.
2. Fingerboard knowledge.
3. Musical knowledge and repertoire.
4. Play. Abandon personal judgement and have fun.
*"Learn to trust the inexpressible benevolence of the creative
impulse." -Robert Fripp, 1992.
The sage whose words are ambiguous you call great.
Those who advocate discipline you shun.
With one, you treat words the way you want.
With the other, you resent having no quarter.
On Carcassi's Method: The Open Position.
"The fact is that the vast majority of guitar method books don't really explain very much at all, and the vast majority of guitar teachers are the products of these methods. As a general rule, guitar methods don't concern themselves with helping you to increase your overall comprehension of the instrument.
"Guitar methods get you to do a lot of things (which certainly can be useful). They show you a method of how to do something. But these methods seldom, if ever, lead to a growth of your understanding of how things work on the instrument. If anything, they lead to a narrowing of possibilities because you don't have to figure out very much by yourself. You just have to follow instructions.
"When you know the method, you are the result of the method. If you teach, you tend to teach the method (perhaps with a few modifications -- a few improvements). The method can actually become more important than the music it is supposed to help facilitate. This is not so good."
For this reason, Carcassi's Method for Classical Guitar will not be of real value to us until we arrive at a study of the Open Position: When I say "First Things First," I am suggesting that the guitarist begin where the guitar began in its musical evolution: Playing Up and Down a Single String: The Science of the Unitar.
"In most guitar method books, no mention is ever made of playing up and down one string. This omission is a huge oversight, because playing on a single string is absolutely the most logical place to begin on a guitar. Consider the following observations:
*"The simplest way to see notes is in a straight line.
*"A string is a straight line.
*"On a single string, there is a direct relationship between interval distance and movement in space.
*"Playing on a single string helps to eliminate two potential problems: "paralysis" (fear of movement) and "acrophobia" (fear of higher frets), since the entire length of the fingerboard is utilized from the very beginning.
*"This approach is conducive to learning note locations because youcan't rely on a fingering pattern (as in position playing).
*"The problem of changing strings is eliminated. This simplifies the right hand function and displays the principles of left hand function in their purest form.
*"Different types of phrasing and articulations can be played very consistently.
*"Elements of fundamental theory can be shown to a beginner in clear and simple visual and aural terms: Intervals, scale construction, chords, arpeggios, etc. The same could be said for dynamics, articulations, and timbre.
*"Someone probably invented a one-stringed instrument (let's call it a unitar!) long before anyone ever thought of two strings, let alone six of them. So it would seem sesible to learn in the same way that the instrument developed chronologically.
*"Many stringed instruments in Eastern countries are played in a much more "up and down the neck" fashion (most notably, the sitar). Do you have any idea how long the music of India has been around?" -Mick Goodrick
*The only difference between the amatuer and the professional guitarist is the number of musical compositions he has mastered. A perfected knowledge of at least 100 songs, classical jazz standards,
and popular musical pieces will, indeed, put you in league with today's guitar hero. -DuCannibis
*Initially, you should make it your top priority to put together a coherent 30 to 45 minute set of performance material ("audition pieces") to play for people to enjoy. Building a good, solid repertoire is extremely important, especially in the beginning, since having a command of musical pieces will boost confidence in critical situations. i.e. Auditioning for a gig!! -DuCannibis
*"Study music much more than the guitar." -Andreas Segovia
"The master has no EGO;
A Negro has no name."
-Explaining the origin of his last name to U.S. Homeland Security (U.S. Border Patrol) Agents at Hebbronville, TX, May 2003, W.S. Duncan-Binns exclaimed,
"It's not an alias!"