Have you ever noticed that there are some extremely talented people around you that for some reason aren’t successful?  People who should be doing well in life but for some reason don’t?  This is especially true in the arts, and especially with musicians.  Art has through the ages been propagated by the suffering artist image. Often times the artist never realizes their greatness and are only recognized for their talent after their passing.  There are many factors in the life of each artist that contributes to their suffering.  These include socioeconomic, health, political and circumstances relevant to their day and age. The stuff we study about in music history and music appreciation classes. Luckily, we are now living in a period of untold freedoms and privilege, but not a time without its struggles.

One may argue that the golden age of art has passed, no longer are the gallery, opera, ballet and orchestra a cornerstone of society, replaced by cinema, radio, internet and TV, instant entertainment. However, at no other time has there been more resources available to the artist, both for research, material and communications.   It can be argued that the true artist will always suffer for their art, and this is what gives them the insight to create works of greatness. For the rest, the business of art should not be overlooked, and needs to be understood so as to create an environment of success for the artist.  This is ever so important for the aspects of teaching!

How can a teacher who is passionate about their art, committed to teaching, reach their students needs if they are desperate and having difficulties financially and personally.  Teaching music is an especially difficult job compared to regular 9 to 5 work.  First, the hours of a teacher are odd, not conforming easily to the needs of family.  Often, the most desired time to spend with one’s family is also the capital time required for teaching.  Students will look for the most opportune time that fits into their weekly schedules.  Also times for leisure are also the best time for teaching.  This includes weekends day and night, weekday evenings and especially after school.  A teacher with a full schedule of students is usually one who has very little social life!  Likewise, it makes planning family events more difficult, a trip to the movies, an outing or even planning a meal together is usually offset by their teaching duties.  Even with this all said, it does not include personal practice or study time.  So it is ever more important for a music teacher to establish themselves with a strong business model, clear goals and realistic time management expectations and still have room to meet life’s challenges and opportunities and family needs.  I’ve often been surprised by my teachers in the past who seemed to be unable to manage certain simplicities in life that I had taken for granted.  Such as taking in a show, catching a sale or concert or attending a social event, or finding time to eat supper.  I now understand and appreciate these challenges much more clearly now.  Every employer and corporate HR councilor speaks of maintaining a balance between work and home.  With music, these lines are often blurred, but there still must be a balance that is clear to family and friends, as well as to the students.

Students of the arts also face similar problems. The demands of studying are contrasted with the requirements of earning a living and their career. When time demands are high for both career and financial advancement and practicing your music, ultimately the effort is usually spent for survival.

With all the time and social demands on a teacher, the pressures of the current economy and challenges with competition in today’s fast paced markets, in order to not only survive but to be able to get ahead financially and in your craft, it is ever more important to have clear vision and a model for your business.  After all, in times of financial crises, and fiscal cliffs, we need the arts more than ever!

 

Submitted here are a couple of interesting videos, I would make the exception of using the wording of successful for wealthy, although I’d never complain about having my share of wealth! The arts, after all, don’t make you rich, but instead enrich you. Everything else that comes with it is a bonus!

17 ways Rich People and Poor People Think Differently

When an electric guitarist wants to get a different tone or different sound, they plug into effects units like a flanger or chorus pedal.  For a classical guitarist, to change our sound, we plug into an orchestra!  Ok, that’s a joke, but not completely.  Andrés Segovia was a master at tone, and he said that inside the guitar there was an orchestra, but on a smaller scale.  So in a way, classical guitarists do tap into this mini-orchestra to develop their sound. To understand the dynamics of that sound, it serves us very well to look into what happens in, and goes on with an orchestra.  Also, we gain further insight into the music that we love and gain a deeper appreciation for the art of making music.  Enjoy!

 

 

I was once told not too long ago, that as a sufferer of seriously debilitating Crohn’s disease and undergoing surgery for the same, that I wasn’t dedicated and committed enough for guitar and was denied access to education with classical guitar. Yes, I missed classes due to either infections or inflammations which limited my mobility and activity. My lessons were paid up to date, and at no time did I expect a refund or a makeup class. I took each lesson I was able and worked through to the next. Likewise, the time between classes, I worked and studied as hard as I could. So being told that I wasn’t dedicated enough, to the point that the instructor didn’t have the decency to even return my calls or emails after my recovery from surgery, was astounding! I was even shocked when I finally did get through and was told why, that I was wasting the instructors time. This was just simply amazing! I could have argued, fought and begged to continue my studies with that teacher, but there would be no respect or dignity left after that.

With 8va Classical Guitar Studio, and my work with the Regina Classical Guitar Society, I am totally committed to see that all such barriers are removed for the access to classical guitar training. Further to that, I will work ever so diligently to ensure that the dignity of each student is preserved and their confidence is encouraged every step of the way. With community and school projects, partnerships with organizations such as CNIB and the City of Regina, we will be able to reach out to those who desire and deserve to fulfill their wishes to explore music to the fullest of their abilities! As long as there is respect, desire and a need, there will be guitar for all who seek it!

Derek

 

 

I have just received a newsletter from Bradford Werner from Classical Guitar Canada, that he will soon be completing a free classical guitar technique book, with corresponding support videos online at thisisclassicalguitar.com. Add this to other free and next to free online classical guitar resources such as Rob Reid’s headstartclassicalguitar.com and TheSixStringAcademy.com, Artistworks Online Classical Guitar Academy with Jason Vieaux, and also Classical Guitar Complete with Scott Morris through Midshelf Music.

Some of these online courses do involve fees of some sort. With Scott Morris, you purchase his method books, and the corresponding support videos are free online through YouTube, which is where I found him. If you like, you could access his videos for free without the purchase of his books, but that would only get you a glimpse of what he has to offer. Rob Reid offers a low, onetime fee to access their whole library and expertise. Artistworks maintains a monthly subscription fee, that is reduced with a longer subscription, to as low as roughly $20 per month for a one year subscription.

One thing a new or experienced guitarist must realize is that these lessons and courses are delivered either by top elite performer master educators, or high level experienced instructor and performers with University backgrounds, generally working towards a masters degree. So this isn’t some fly by night market or make money scheme. These are people who are truly passionate about their craft and working to make accessible their knowledge and experience. The information given will be of top level professional detail and address the latest technical aspects of guitar playing. There is also opportunity to correspond with the instructors in one form or another which gives you further personalized depth to your study.

What does this mean to the private classical guitar teacher? If a private teacher can be threatened by free lessons from a school system or community project, then how about lessons being offered globally through the internet? Is this a threat that they should be worried about? Short answer YES!

The private teacher of classical guitar should be worried and justifiably threatened by such resources. That is, if they wish to sit back in the standard fashion and teaching at status quo. This isn’t to knock private teachers, but it reflects a change in the times and technology. The format of showing up for a class, a bit of talking as student unpacks their things. Teacher noodles around some while student settles in. Some more talking as the student noodles a bit to warm up. Then you go through some excuses why the student didn’t practice, and then settle on reviewing last week’s lesson, or introduce a new page from some technique book or from some new song. This is the minimum standard for the average student. Students also don’t always have time to practice and show up unprepared for class, making the lesson very difficult. Some days, the class is brilliant with eye opening ah-ha moments, other times they are not so inspiring, bogged down with difficulties of one form or another.

In this situation, the free online classes can seem to be a threat as it gives the student the opportunity to bypass the private teacher, and work on their own, at their own rate without the time pressure of monthly fees, and the hustle to make it to their weekly class on time. Why would the student go through all that effort when they can get the information for free online? In some cases for a casual student, online classes are perfect and an ideal alternative to a private teacher.

That would be a superficial impression of the situation. In reality, these free or next to free classes are a great asset to teachers of guitar, so long as the private teacher is willing to embrace them, recommend them and work with them along with their student. The drawback to online classes is that there isn’t the immediate correction and real time dialogue with online classes that you get with private classes. This is the major advantage for private classes. Likewise, the online classes will reinforce the lessons and technique taught in the private classes. A private teacher can use this as an educational resource to direct the student to the online classes, and review what the student has learned and clarify issues in the weekly private class time. In this way, it makes more efficient use of the private class time. The student can also use the online classes to review ideas that were covered in their private class. Sometimes it just takes a different angle in explanation to reach the student on a given topic.

Perhaps it’s time to abandon the status quo that has been established for private classes. A modern teacher of classical guitar has to look at ways of increasing their value as a teacher, it’s not sufficient anymore just being a monster player with lots of chops and technique. New ways have to be found to enhance their value for their students, and to look to new ways to connect with their existing students and to reach new students to classical guitar. Online classical guitar classes also add potential for student studies in remote areas where there are no teachers or educational programs for a student to access. In these cases, free online classes offer critical support where there may be a classical guitar enthusiast with limited experience helping other beginner guitarists. It can also facilitate including classical guitar into an educational program at a school where musical expertise is present but not specifically on guitar.

Many guitar students don’t perform. Partially, because they aren’t accustomed to it, nor do they have an opportunity for performance and they are not taught to perform. Often times, their teachers do not perform classical guitar either. The online guitar courses are taught by seasoned and expert performers of classical guitarists. Working with these courses, a private teacher can build up themselves, and their students to bridge a performing regiment into their class structure. Often times there are excellent resources specifically on performing with the online classes. As a guitar teacher, especially a classical guitar teacher, recitals can be arranged so that their students can showcase their work for family and friends. Students will also gain valuable experience that will carry them through examinations or for future performance opportunities for family, friends, weddings or other community functions. It also builds a community for the students to network in. To see performances by their peers and connect with other enthusiasts in a constructive manner. Too often classical guitar is sheltered in solo, private study. These recitals can help break down those walls and develop a further sense of value in classical guitar study.

Technology is changing, and it is strongly affecting classical guitar. We have seen the development of tab notation for other forms of guitar entering into the classical guitar realm. In some ways enabling those who can’t read standard music an opportunity to experience some aspects of classical guitar. So prevalent is tab form that many classical guitar collections and works include both standard notation and tab. This may also be a detriment as some may believe there is no need to learn to read music as they can always reference the tab. Free internet lessons are just another technical development for classical guitar, and I believe it is a very advantageous and desirable addition that will enhance the field of classical guitar education both for the private teacher and especially for the student.

 

Derek

 

 

Performing guitar is an art unto its own.  It takes practice to develop and it’s a wonderful experience to undertake. There is a distinct difference in a live performance for a few friends, compared to a group of strangers to a large audience.  It takes practice to build up your confidence to be able to perform to each level.  I was very happy to hear that the master guitarist Andres Segovia would get stage fright.  Mind you, it was for different reasons, but the feelings are still the same.  It’s very reassuring to know that we could shaking in the same shoes so to speak, mind you, on vastly different stages, but none the less, the feelings could be somewhat shared.  If he was nervous, then it’s ok for anyone else to be the same.

For a live performance, it is a onetime event.  You prepare for the moment, practice your work, then you exist for a brief moment in the music.  When you are done, you can relive the experience in your memory for better or worse, you can get feedback from friends and audience members, but the time and music have slipped on.  Any mistakes made, if they were noticed, have been brushed aside quickly to be forgotten.  This is the one big advantage and rush with a live performance, it is a once in a life experience that will never repeat itself again.  No matter how many times you play the same series of pieces, none will ever be the same.  I find this to be a comforting thought, you always have a second chance with a live performance, and there is always room for improvement.

Live recording on the other hand is a much different experience that requires a different mindset.  First, there is no immediate audience for your performance.  Worse still, you will generally be the first to observe your work, possibly the hardest critic for your performance.  The hardest thing I find with recording my performance is that it is always there.  Every buzz, every fret squeak. All the glitches are there in the cold light for everyone to see, rewind and view again.  The challenge then is to make a recording that is perfect, free from all mistakes, clean from beginning to end.  Elliot Fisk speaks in an interview about how people become accustomed to perfect recordings and expect the same for live performances.  Striving for the perfect recording then brings on a new stress to further inhibit the freedom of playing in front of a camera or microphone, further sabotaging the goal for a perfect recording.

In my early studies for classical guitar I was told to make sure to have a large mirror in my practice area so that I could review my form.  This was great advice.  Now we can go one step further with the added technology of inexpensive camera phones, digital recorders and web cams.  Another tool in the practice room is a diary, keeping a log of your work, goals and any issues.  Combining the diary with a recording of your practice will not only serve as the practice mirror, but it will help you to sit back and review  your playing and technique.  This will also build a comfort level of playing for the camera and help cultivate your performance, not the perfect performance, but a real performance.

More and more teachers are turning to video recording their students during their classes.  With recording media being inexpensive, this is an added bonus for the student.  This helps the student to review what was covered in their class, as well as focus on technical areas more effectively.  It also gives them something more tangible to show for the cost of their lesson, and a memento of their progress.  We are allowed to video our kids piano lessons.  My work schedule keeps me from attending their classes, and this helps connect me to their lessons.  I find there is nothing more exciting and inspiring than watching a music lesson.  At 8va Classical Guitar Studio, I will work with students utilizing video recordings to further enhance their lessons, and hopefully it will help to overcome the fear of the lens and the stigma of the perfect performance.

Derek

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