06. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorized

It is very important to expose yourself to as much music as you can.  Studies, etudes, and smaller pieces.  This is also very important for sight reading.  As Jason Vieaux teaches, your sight reading shouldn’t be more than 2 grades below your playing ability.  For most that I talk with, that is an area that needs further development, and is another topic all together.  The goal for any guitarist is to learn more pieces, and to play them well.  For the beginning guitarist, this may seem an extremely difficult task, with all the effort of learning technique, learning to read music and to try to learn a new piece may be enough to discourage one with a casual interest.  For an enthusiast, this is just the start.

To help a student through the initial difficulties of learning new pieces, it helps to keep everything in perspective.  Lets compare learning music to another task, say writing a book.  Using a reference that most people will understand due to it’s popularity, we will look at Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  The book is 309 pages, with 17 chapters.  It took 5 years to write.  Mind you, the author claimed that in this time she was planning out later books.  We can compare this extra time to additional work that a guitarist must make in practice.  So 5 years works out to be 60 months.  With 17 chapters it works out to about 3 months per chapter.  This time to write one chapter of a book works out to be about the same time to learn a new piece, 3 months!  Mind you, some pieces, like some chapters in a book, may be larger or more complicated and take more time to learn.

Now, once a chapter in a book is written, it’s done and off to the publisher.  Not so with classical guitar.  With music, once you’ve learned a piece, you have to maintain it.  Keep it in shape to prevent errors from creeping in and to keep it in ones memory.  For a given author, once the chapter is written and in the book, they can sign it, give it out, read it aloud to their audience easily word for word.  The written story is available any time for any member in the public to access.  For the musician however, although we don’t have to go through the whole process of crafting the story each time a piece is played, you essentially have to ‘type’ out the manuscript fresh, word for word for the listening audience.

When you look at learning a piece in this fashion, you can appreciate the time that it takes to properly learn a piece.  Remember though, that as you are learning one piece, keep practicing your sight reading by continually playing other pieces that are new to you.  In this way, you will build your repertoire and garner a deeper understanding of your instrument and music.  You may also find other pieces that you will wish to commit to the full learning process and add to your repertoire.  But most importantly, have fun, enjoy and don’t give up!  The worst piece in your repertoire are is the one not played!

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