The LMusA Diploma Journey – Update #6 – Time Away From The Guitar

Well hello folks! This week I’ve been on my travels again with my work, so that means I’ve been away from my guitar – eeek! Hah hah! All good – sometimes I feel it can be quite beneficial to have an enforced small period away from the instrument. Beneficial, that is provided that I’m using the time I would otherwise be using for practice to do other music and/or guitar related things.

And so this week I have been carrying out research into the piece I’m currently learning -Frederic Mompou’s Suite Compostelana. Over the last couple of months I’ve slowly but steadily been getting the first movement of the Suite, the Preludio, under my fingers, making sense of the music’s direction and shapes, getting to know its “feel”, exploring different sounds.

Whilst I’m going through this initial exploratory phase I don’t tend to listen to any recordings of the music, so as not to influence my own thoughts and perhaps intuitive feelings about a piece. Once I’ve started to form up some ideas, however, I do like to then explore again some other interpretations.

So this week has been a perfect time to do that. And so aided by a wonderful set of new headphones, to enjoy the sounds to their fullest (and not annoy the folks in the hotel room next door by playing the same piece over and over!) I’ve been listening to various recordings of the Preludio from Mompou’s Suite Compostelana thanks to the wonders of Spotify and YouTube. Attempting to do this a number of years ago whilst travelling would have a clumsy exercise lugging around a number of CDs and CD player!

I thought I’d share with you all my favourite recording thus far. It’s by a Portuguese guitarist byt the name of Gil Fesch (previously unknown to me until this week). Here’s a video of Gil playing movements 1 to 3 (Preludio, Coral and Cuna) of the Suite Compostelana by Frederic Mompou:


The LMusA Diploma Journey – Update #5 – 3 Months In & Keeping On Keeping On!

Hi Folks, I thought I’d do a bit of an update this week on my LMusA diploma journey, seeing as the last one was a couple of months ago already. How time flies!

For those of you new to the blog (or this wee series I’ve started building) or those that want a recap, I decided to start preparations for taking the LMusA diploma (,_Australia) in April this year.

So where are things three months into the journey?

Well, I’ll say from the outset here that I believe I’m really still in the initial stages of this journey. I’m under no illusions as to the complexity of the pieces I’m learning, will be learning and getting to know inside out over the next couple of years. And I’m under no illusions about the level expected of me going into the eventual recital examination. This all sounds very “heavy”, so don’t get me wrong – I’m finding this an overall journey so far most enjoyable and challenging in the most positive ways!

So, yes, I decided to start out with learning an absolute all-time favourite piece of mine – La Maja de Goya by Granados. And three months in I feel it’s coming together really very well indeed. It’s getting that feel of being a whole piece, not just bits of phrases or sections stitched together with some fluffy bits in between. I’m getting a handle on the more technically tricky bars to the point where there are really only three, perhaps four of these throughout the whole piece. I’m also becoming more and more certain about the direction I’d like to take the music and its “feel” (i.e. colours, dynamics etc.).B&W Down Fretboard shot

What are the next steps, over the next three months, with this piece for me?

(a) Continuing working on the tricky bits until they’re under my control.

(b) Continue to play sections, then halves of the piece, and then the whole of the piece at 75% tempo, 90% tempo and 100% tempo to continue cementing it as a whole thing, a whole piece of work with clear direction and intention throughout, that I can play consistently each time I approach it.

(c) Play it for a live, breathing audience – the first airing of a piece is important as it gives you good feedback about what you feel is working well and what needs further work.

(d) Continue playing it more, and developing my thoughts and ideas on approach, energy levels, dynamics, colours and so on.

(e) Continue the memorisation of the piece (which is probably around 80% of the whole at present as a result of studying the piece closely, not just where my hands are moving).

But this is not going to be it for my classical guitar playing workload over the next three months. Oh no, being the glutton for work that I am, I’ve also made a start in the last week on my next  piece to add into the recital program – and this is a biggie – the whole of the Suite Compostelana by Frederic Mompou. The best way, for myself at least, is to really break this down and get stuck into learning it a page or rather a large section at a time.  I’ll keep you updated as to how I go!


For the previous posts in this series head here:

Update #4 – Keeping Going Through the Frustration

Update #3 – Practicing Whilst Travelling

Update #2 – An Example of a Day’s Practice

Update #1 – The LMusA Diploma Journey

The Start of a New Journey – The LMusA Diploma