Hello dear readers!
I’ve been contacted recently by a reader who’s just started learning in the last three months, but in a position time-wise and financially where taking lessons just isn’t a possibility. And I would imagine that said reader is not alone in this.
Yes, it’s ideal if you can take lessons on a weekly basis, but just because you’re not able to do this for whatever reason that should absolutely not be any kind of roadblock or reason not to start learning, playing and enjoying the wonderful instrument that is the classical guitar. I’m all about sharing and helping, so here are my thoughts and top tips for kick-starting your classical guitar journey solo-style.
(1) You don’t have to do it on your own!
With the wonders of the internet these days, you don’t actually have to do anything anymore in isolation. Admittedly it’s not quite the same as learning things in a tailored one-on-one environment, but checking out videos online, seeing if there are any quick “pointers” videos out there – or even blogs like this! – makes things a heck of a lot better, easier and far more pleasant than sitting in your lounge room or bedroom wondering if you’re doing something “right”!
In fact above encourage any of you seeking advice or if you have thoughts on a topic you’d like me to cover to get in touch and ask away. I’m always keen to help if and where I can. I might even be able to post up a video or photo to help with a dilemma or an issue.
(2) Keep on practicing, even just a little bit, every day
We are our habits, and the more frequently you do something, the more ingrained the behaviour comes. Get used to practicing, even if it’s just five minutes – even 2 minutes! – every single day or at the very least 5 days out of 7. This is where you’ll find your development sneaks up on you without you noticing!
(3) Immerse yourself in guitar music and its many sounds
Get to know your favourite players and their sounds inside out. Watch them on YouTube – listen and watch how they produce their sounds. Seek out and get to know guitarists you’ve not heard of before and do the same. Listen, listen, listen. Get to know, feel and understand what good sound sounds like to you. It will take a lot of listening over a period of time to appreciate the subtleties in sound quality, like getting to appreciate good wines or whiskies, but overtime your ear will discern finer and finer differences in sound.
Why is this important?
It will impact on your own playing significantly. Not having someone like a teacher to give you feedback on your sound production and sound quality means it may take a little more time (or not!) for you to understand and appreciate (a) what “good” sound could sound like and (b) how you personally can physically produce a “good” sound (which is totally subjective of course).
By effectively training your ear to become more sensitive to variations in sounds (and observing, where possible, how they’re produced) will mean your own sound production will become more sensitive and informed by what you’re hearing.
(4) Use a well-known and recommended method book
There are plenty out there, and most will give you a reasonable start in learning the guitar. A New Tune A Day For Classical Guitar by Michael McCartney is not a bad book to check out and comes with a CD that plays the tunes, and acompaniments. If you feel you’re not moving ahead with the book you’ve chosen feel free to drop me a line and I can help suggest some alternatives. Similarly, if you feel you’ve moved beyond the book you’ve been using and don’t know where to go to next please feel free to drop me a line.
Thanks again for the reader (you know who you are) for getting in touch. Just to reiterate, as I said above encourage any of you seeking advice or if you have thoughts on a topic you’d like me to cover to do the same. I’m always keen to help if and where I can – Nicole.