I was thinking the other day what my top tips would be, or rather key pieces of wisdom, I’ve come to learn over the past twenty-odd years of playing classical guitar. And (as I always say) I thought I’d share! So here is quick on with five of my key learnings on my journey with the classical guitar……. (I’m sure more will follow in the ensuing weeks as more gems pop into my brain!)
(1) Trust yourself
Trust your own interpretation of the music you’re playing. You’re the musician bringing the music to life, trust what you bring to the music, your thoughts and ideas on how it should sound. Avoid the temptation to try and make it sound like someone else’s interpretation. And don’t be beholden to stylistic boundaries – sure be reverent to the style, time period etc, but don’t get too hung up on it in my opinion, particularly if you feel moved in a certain direction otherwise we’ll all sound the same! Go for it.
(2) Cultivate your sound
Aways listen to what you’re producing. The music is in the sound – sound quality rules over note accuracy (well, kind of, to a point!) Note accuracy, technique and so on is just the mechanics of the music. Your sound is where it comes alive. Listen to it. Be inspired by others, but don’t wish to have the sound of others. Your sound is you.
(3) Turn up and practice regularly
Regularity and being truly present in the process is the key to making progress. Practicing more often than not practicing in terms of days of the week. Keeping things moving. It’s a never ending process.
(4) But don’t stress out if you can’t practice
The guitar is not going anywhere. And you may find the break has done you good. Not stressing is also vitally important in making progress!
(5) Things don’t necessarily get easier the pieces just get more challenging!
Well, that’s only partly true really, a number of things really do get easier over time with consistent practice – sight reading, left and right hand techniques, tonal control and so on. What doesn’t necessarily feel easier is the learning and getting to grips with a new piece, that is to say if you’re pushing yourself with more challenging repertoire.
And you don’t notice this change at the time. It kind of feels like things are still hard. But go back to something you were playing or learning a year or two (or more) back, or better yet something you might have looked at at that time but found perhaps a little too challenging at the time and you may just surprise yourself. I know I have and continue to!