“Tone quality” is how we sound. Are all the notes consistent? Is the sound of each note rich and warm, or thin and brittle? Does one finger jump out as louder than the others?
When we play pieces, our attention goes to the squeaky wheel: the notes. We can play for hours and not be aware of how the guitar sounds. Guitar music often has melody, bass and harmony. If we don’t craft it, they can all wash together like melted Neapolitan ice cream.
When we put the piece of music aside, we have the luxury of listening. We can take a breath and make a lovely sound. Then we can train our hands to make that sound consistently.
Tip: Bounce Around to Stay Engaged
At first, we don’t have the mental muscles to hold our attention on specific details for long periods of time.
The more curiosity we bring, the longer we can practice the items above. The more interested we become, the better we do.
And while each of the focii above are worthy of deep exploration, we may enjoy bouncing from one to the next.
We can focus in on one practice method for a few minutes, then switch to another.
Down the road, playing pieces becomes a moving circuit of attention. We fleet from rhythm, to movement, to tone, to connection, and more. This happens hundreds of times a minute, like a pilot checking his instruments.
Seek, and Ye Shall Find
The art of playing beautifully is the art of exquisite details.
But details don’t craft themselves. We have to recognize the opportunities before us, then take them.
We can be on the look out for clarity, connection, and consistency. We can listen. We can feel our fingers on the strings.
The first step to playing more beautifully is to become aware of the details. And the more time we spend focused on specific details in our technique practices, the better equipped we’ll be to create beautiful moments.
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.
Since a year ago with my subscription to CGS it has been for me a pleasurable adventure and a discovery of all the facets of the classical guitar.
Your dedication and enthusiasm, as well as your talent, in the tuition is quite contagious (well, lets hope also for your talent) and has made it fun and useful in my progression. Also the weekly tip that you mail us and the Facebook group is excellent.
~ Michel Donnet
I feel my guitar proficiency is improving considerably. Every day I’m exceedingly comfortable with my right hand technique and overall fluency. And my sight-reading has improved as well. Thank you for creating the Woodshed. It’s thoughtful construction and scope and sequence of knowledge and skills has advanced my guitar skills significantly. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
~ Michael Immel
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