The “Add-A-Note” Method to Eliminate Mistakes in Your Classical Guitar Pieces

It seems like every piece of music has at least one problem spot. This could be a fast scale, a daring shift, or an awkward move.

So how do we smooth these rough patches? How to we make these hard parts as comfortable as the rest?

One practice method that helps here is the “Add-A-Note” Method.

The Problem: The Persistent Difficult Spots in Pieces of Music

In guitar practice, we spend time working to fix problem spots. We slow down and explore the issue. We pull out our practice tools and set to work.

For each type of problem, a different solution may be the one to use. So it helps to know many problem-solving methods. Here’s a good one:

A Useful Practice Tool: The Add-A-Note Method to Solve Problems

The “Add-A-Note” method is exactly what it sounds like. To begin, first identify where the problem starts. This can be a general area.

To use the method, choose one of the first notes where things go wrong. Then, in practice, play up to that note and stop.

To make this method more effective, accent the last note.

When this is smooth, add one more note. Here, accent the new last note.

It’s important to keep in rhythm. The rhythm should be precise and articulate. Though it can be slower than performance speed if need be.

Then add another note. And another. Until you move past the formerly troublesome spot.

When to Use the Add-A-Note Method

The Add-A-Note Method works by eliminating confusion. By stopping on each note in turn, we put our attention on each.

Doing this, we explore the piece more closely than before. And this usually “connects the dots” and lets us play through the difficult passage.

The best times to use this method is when we repeatedly stumble through a given section of music. If it’s not clear why the stumble is happening, this will help.

We can also use this for a section with speed issues. If a passage or phrase is resisting full tempo (speed), we can play it at full speed, stopping early. This way, we identify the spot where the problems lie. And then solve for each note, one at a time.

Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

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