Music is a priority for a healthy community.  It is also necessary for youth to be involved in the learning and creation of music.  It is true, that there are some elements of music taught in the school system.  Those who excel in music though are not limited to the school system for their education, likewise the range of instruments and content in the school system is limited, mainly toward band instruments.

The majority of the accomplished music students in school take extra-curricular classes in piano, or their desired instrument.  Costs for private classes, especially for families with more than one child can be an exorbitant burden!   These costs are further exasperated when there is a diversity of instruments that children wish to specialize in, and compounded with sporting or other outside activities.

When money becomes a factor, many families choose to compromise their children’s opportunity for quality learning.

As president and an active member of the Regina Classical Guitar Society, I am always looking at ways to bring classical guitar to those who through circumstances find quality music education inaccessible.

Therefore, 8va Classical Guitar Studio offers a unique opportunity for free classical guitar lessons during various sessions through the year.  These classes are open for new classical guitarists who have never registered with 8va Classical Guitar Studio.  The application process to the free classical guitar program is dependent on and consists of an entrance interview, completed application form, agreement to studio and program policies and a onetime, non-refundable registration fee to 8va Classical Guitar Studio.  Space is limited, and when available, classes run for one of 4 sessions, spring, summer, fall and winter courses.   Please enquire for start and end dates for each session.  Requirements for the class include a classical guitar ( which can be rented for as low as $12 per month ), foot rest, tuner, metronome and consistent attendance is mandatory.

I am beginning to catch a glimpse of the difference between a professional musician and an amateur enthusiast musician. 

 Recently, I challenged myself to see how long it would take for me to work through, memorize and polish a piece to be ready for performance.  Not a small piece, but a bigger stage worthy piece.  That piece in choice was Classical Gas.  I was set on this, the thinking was that a professional musician will need to be able to pick up and perform a given piece in a set amount of time for some special occasion, usually, either a wedding or a guitar competition.

 Through this experiment, I also learned that the laws of physics also apply to music.  The harder I pushed at music, the harder life pushes back, and Classical Gas still sits on my music stand untouched.   

 As an enthusiast of music, there are countless demands on ones time that will distract you from your music job, family, and regular household chores, and for me the constant pursuit of sleep.  Music although an interest for most amateur players, does not factor high in the daily grind.  The demands of music are usually limited to the weekly class, an effort is made to review the previous lesson, practice some and get some work in on the current pieces or studies one has been assigned.  Each week a bit of progress is made on the given pieces, some clarifications and the student is sent back home to review the work again for the next week.

 Generally then for the amateur, there is no pressure for their guitar work.  For myself, I felt this strongly for my learning experiment.  My studies previously have been heavily focused on several aspects of my playing.  Usually a couple pieces at a time, scales and technical exercises.  This is a very comfortable and acceptable routine for me given my past experience in music.  Probably a heavier musical workload than most enthusiasts, but nothing compared to a professional studying music full time in an academic institution.  This is something that I realized, and of late I’ve been working on time management and goal setting for myself, hence another reason for the Classical Gas experiment.  Still, the pressure wasn’t there.

 I have now committed to a guitar project with Rob Reid who is working on his master’s degree.  I have been assigned a guitar duet piece which will be recorded and collaborated on over the internet.  Not a particularly long piece, but one that has its subtleties, but worse still, a deadline of a month.  Now there is some pressure.  Given private guitar lessons, one may take 3 weeks or so just working on a piece like this, along with a couple more pieces at the same time.  For this, I have that much time to learn the piece, polish it up and record it for video to a level that would be presentable and acceptable, leaving enough time for collaboration and changes that may be needed to facilitate the project.  With this time limit, combined with the demands of work and normal life, there is definitely some pressure now. 

 Now time management comes into play more urgently.  Likewise, all those memorization techniques that I’ve learned but never really implemented to their fullest step in.  One method is visualization of the piece when away from the guitar.  With the scale work I’ve been doing, I can now visualize the fret board clearly in my head, shifting my mental picture from neck position to neck position, hearing the notes as I walk through.  With this, and rhythm work, half of the battle is solved before I even sit down to my guitar.  I can now imagine what a full time professional student must face.  Trading in the house work for class time and homework, and perhaps an odd part time job to make ends meet.  Lack of sleep, I think may be something a full time student would face as well.  Add all this up, and then throw on several more guitar projects, and I can certainly appreciate the work that a full time student would need to accomplish, and I gain a new understanding of the importance of all the time management work we do.  Visualization, break downs, chaining, isolation of trouble areas, and to single out voicing’s one at a time.  I can still only imagine the opportunity a professional musician has of purely focusing on guitar work and to be able to delve into the depths of music and musicianship.

Mauro Giuliani’s 120 right hand studies are core for classical guitar.  So many times I hear about the horrors of such studies.  Specifically the monotony of the simple chord changes, C to G7.  I’m surprised by this, I’ve never been one to turn down an exercise, and perhaps I’ve focused too much on the technical aspect of exercises.  120 RH Studies are a fantastic workout and part of my daily warm up routine.  I was thinking about the latest comments I’ve read about them and how they are torture to the ear to listen to and it got me thinking, and I just wanted to share my vision of this great study.

I watched a video today of an 8 minute guitar performance, Napoléon Coste: Fantaisie Dramatique ‘Le Depart’, Op.31 performed by Tariq Harb.  There must have been so much discipline put into this one piece.  Just to think about all the technical aspects had been put into each section, then carefully worked together and mastered as a whole for performance.  If Mr. Harb were to have played the whole piece through 3 times in one sitting, that would probably be well over 30 minutes on one piece.  My thought on this is if a person should get bored with a simple exercise, how can you even expect to practically face a challenge such as Fantaisie Dramatique ‘Le Depart’?

Likewise, many accompaniment works have the guitar working continuous arpeggios and chord passages.  Yes, they are more complicated than the 120 RH Exercises, but they too would see to become a drag.

One other observation regarding the 120 RH studies, I recall from my early exposure to them.  As a new student of classical guitar, they seemed difficult and picky.  How can anyone expect you to be able to hit all those notes accurately going up and down repetitively over and over again?

So the 120 Right Hand Exercises are more than just a mechanical work out for the right hand.  It’s an exercise of the mind, to be able to focus concentration and maintain that discipline for the duration of their practice.  Many times teachers and educators will tell you to look for the musicality in your practice.  This means for this study, it may be of benefit to think of another instrument performing grand melodies overtop of the accompaniment you are playing.  From this, you can vary the dynamics of your playing, from piano, to forte, change the position of your playing, ponticello to tasto, the attack of your right hand to for a crisp thin to a full warm tone.  All the while with your practice, you will listen to the sound of what you are playing, even clear notes.  Hopefully, with the accompaniment of your ever trusty metronome!

The work you put in to Giuliani’s Right Hand Studies will forever serve your foundation in classical guitar, just as scales and other studies and exercises, and lend to the ability to play the larger works that we strive for.



Modes are something that are magical in music. They convey moods in a given context. However, they are often glossed over briefly in graded theory books without much detail. Back when I took my RCM theory, the book “Total Theory” by James Lawless, a fine theory resource that got me through my exam quite well, but sorely lacked content for modes, maybe half a page, and mostly it was a chart listing the modes. What I found also, was that the RCM theory exam didn’t really cover modes at all. In reviewing and brushing up my theory I have found that the “Elementary Rudiments” by mark Sarnecki is also a fine series of theory books. There are a few things that are expanded on or touch in with more details in this series of books. The biggest thing I’ve found so far is their coverage of modes. Instead of just half a page with a bit of descriptive text, we have 5 pages dedicated to the modes, with exercises following, with tips for analysis.

Now most guitarists from an electrical background will be familiar with modes from moveable scale patterns, they know the G Dorian mode, because they use the Dorian scale pattern, starting on G. Some guitarists will also develop a passion for a specific mode pattern and will use it to define their style. So for further understanding of modes for those that may be interested, I found the following web page. 

Now to just sit down, work thorugh it and some exercises to put it all together!


Airlines scare me with the thought of having to travel with my guitar. Not that this has been an issue for me yet. Here is an article regarding cello travel, some good tips included which would be well suited for guitarists.

( No intent on copyright infringement )
by Michael Bersin


At some time in your career as a cellist, you will findourself booked on a commercial airline flight, needing to get to your ultimate destination with your cello intact. In this era of airline deregulation and the preponderance of airport “hubs,” unless you live in a major city, you will not find a direct flight. If you check your cello as baggage, it will travel long distances outside, sometimes in extreme weather, and probably under the significant weight of other travelers’ luggage. We all know, either first hand, or from friends or acquaintances, of horror stories about cellos checked as baggage. Despite advertisements for indestructible cello cases, a cello which can successfully survive that kind of abuse (and sound like something more than expensive firewood with a nice varnish) has yet to be invented. The cases survive, but the cellos don’t.

The only option then, for those of us who are faint of heart, is to try to book a seat for the cello. Never mind the expense and the inquisitive looks from airport security; it can be done. The main problem is that the people you will have to deal with are not always aware of the various airlines’ policies on booking a seat for your cello, nor, for the most part are they aware of what a cello is. It then becomes incumbent upon you to know the airlines’ policies, the configuration possibilities for the aircraft you fly on, and the regulations governing flying with a musical instrument.

These include the “Special Federal Air Regulations ” (SFAR), also known as “Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations,” and the tariffs, which are the charges and policies of the airlines under various circumstances, also known as “Domestic General Rules,” or DGR-1. The airlines have further documents, some of which are proprietary, which outline policies for cabin seat baggage. These can include ticket agent and gate agent manuals, aircraft operations manuals, cabin crew manuals, and flight crew manuals, as well as the certification for the aircraft filed with the Federal Aviation Administration.

You can find a copy of Title 14, Parts 1-1199 in public or academic libraries, usually in the “Government Documents” section. You can purchase a copy from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20401, (202) 783-3238. The “Domestic General Rules” are available from the Airline Tariff Publishing Company, Dulles International Airport, Box 17415, Washington, D.C. 20041, (701) 471-7510. A yearly subscription (with biweekly interleaf updates) can cost several hundred dollars. If you are associated with an educational institution, you can acquire a one time copy for $15. Armed with these documents, you will know these regulations better than the people who have a say over whether or not you get on the flight.

The FAA considers your cello a piece of cargo. The rules and procedures are covered in the section entitled “Carriage of cargo in passenger compartments” (14 CFR 121.285), and read as follows: “(c) Cargo may be carried aft of a bulkhead or divider in any passenger compartment provided the cargo is restrained to the load factors in 25.561 (b) (3) and is loaded as follows: (1) It is properly secured by a safety belt or other tiedown having enough strength to eliminate the possibility of shifting under all normally anticipated flight and ground conditions. (2) It is packaged or covered in a manner to avoid possible injury to passengers and passenger compartment occupants. (3) It does not impose any load on seats or the floor structure that exceeds the load limitation for those components. (4) Its location does not restrict access to or use of any required emergency or regular exit, or of the aisle in the passenger compartment. (5) Its location does not obscure any passenger’s view of the ‘seat belt’ sign, ‘no smoking’ sign, or required exit sign, unless an auxiliary sign or other approved means for proper notification of the passenger is provided.” (Doc. No. 6258, 29 FR 19202, Dec 31, 1964, as amended by Amdt. 121-179, 47 FR 33390, Aug. 2, 1982)

Practically speaking, this means your cello must be set in a bulkhead window seat which does not have an emergency exit, and that it will have to be strapped in. It is important that you ask the airline to provide a compatible seat belt extension; they will place a special record on your reservation at your request. Some airlines will provide cargo straps, if you so request. You cannot provide your own “tiedowns,” since the airline has to certify to the FAA that the tiedown meets the load specifications in the regulations. The easiest way to strap in your cello is to place the cello between the armrests, with the back of the case toward the seat. The seat belt and extension should go through a case handle (or two, depending on the case) and over the top of the case. The seat belts should be cinched snugly.

There is a wide latitude in interpretation of the regulations from airline to airline and in crew interpretation of those regulations. It would be too much to hope for some sort of universal policy, considering the many different aircraft, different configurations of aircraft (even in the same fleet), and different seat widths.

All airlines have weight restrictions (which a cello easily meets), and some have maximum dimension limitations, which a cello cannot always meet. The final authority for what can and cannot strapped into a seat is the captain or “pilot in command.”

Most airlines charge 75% of the full fare for a cello, but a few charge 50%. If you book well in advance (and save money on your fare), the cost for you and your cello can be identical. Some airlines charge the cello a cargo tax, which is less than the regular passenger tax.

My own experiences while flying with my cello led me to become an expert on this subject. The definitive trip included mixed up seat assignments, irritation of fellow passengers (directed at me), numerous long distance phone calls with airline representatives, miscommunication, and that fateful notation, written with a green felt tip pen on my ticket, “Involuntary Refund.” Seven hours and one rented car later, I made it back home.

I then called a representative of the offending airline. She informed me that the airlines in general were moving away from allowing musical instruments in the passenger compartment; she felt they would soon be forbidden by regulations (this was at a time when the FAA and airlines were concerned about excess carry-on baggage).

I did what any self-respecting cellist would do: I organized a letter writing campaign with the help of a considerable number of local musicians. The vice president for marketing for the offending airline was deluged with letters bemoaning the situation.

A month later, I was informed by the airline that they had received FAA approval for “cabin seat baggage” on their jet aircraft. I anticipated many happy and hassle-free flights. Wrong. On one subsequent trip, a cabin crew member firmly stated, “You can’t bring that on board.” I answered, “Yes I can.” This was a big mistake. She retorted, “Don’t argue with me.” While we went through the routine and I showed her my ticket, she called the gate agent and the first officer, who then called the captain, while someone else called a ground supervisor. While they waited and scratched their heads, the rest of the passengers gave me dirty looks for causing problems which were delaying the flight. The supervisor then showed up and stated, “Yeah, its all right. You can do that.” As we were taxiing, the cabin crew member pointed to my boarding pass and stated, “All you had to do was show me that, and there wouldn’t have been any problem.” I apologized with the explanation that I thought I had. A passenger seated behind me said, in a very loud voice, “You shouldn’t apologize, I saw you show that to her earlier.”

There are a few basic rules for successfully flying with your instrument. The most important is to have a travel agent. The second most important is not to believe them when they say, “You can do it with a 30 minute layover.” I stopped believing that the first time I went through Minneapolis/St. Paul. I live in a town half the size of the terminal building.

Always check in early – on occasion, some airlines toss your prebooked seating assignments to the winds. If you are first in line, you’ve got first dibs on the bulkhead seats. Since they are the only ones you can occupy with your cello, it’s a good idea never to violate this rule.

Know the type of aircraft you will be flying on. If your commuter flight is on a small aircraft without a bulkhead, you’re out of luck. And as a cost-conscious traveler, you need to know that on certain wide body jets, the only bulkhead window seats not on an emergency exit are in first class. Most airlines’ policies are: “Where your cello goes, you go.” So you could have to pay for two first class tickets.

This brings us to another important rule. Cultivate a relationship with a car rental firm. Major credit cards help, too, when you are stuck in a bind. I’ve logged many bonus car rental miles on my frequent flier cards because, “I’m sorry sir, we cannot accommodate a musical instrument on our aircraft.”

You my have noticed that I referred to frequent flier cards in the plural. Not only one for each airline, but one for your cello on each airline, too. My cello has a card embossed with “Cello Dbags Bersin,” as it would appear on the ticket issued for the cello. (Dbags is the record flag which warns the airline there is trouble in the offing). The value of this, when you are flying with your cello, is that it can cash in on those Hawaiian vacations with you. In addition, it is a matter of great joy in my household when the cello receives its junk mail addressed to “Mr. Cello Dbags Bersin.” This also causes amusement and functions as an icebreaker at the check-in counter when the ticket agent, looking at the reservation computer, says to everyone within earshot, “Look, it even has its own frequent flyer card!”

One interesting survival tool, which I have never used, is to have some sort of scam. I know of a harpist who, while touring, needed to check her harp as baggage. Harps aren’t charged by weight (less expensive), but by volume (very expensive). So, she carted the instrument to the air freight terminal and played an impromptu concert for the baggage crew. There was, shall we say, a successful outcome to the story. I would not recommend that a cellist play in the terminal building. In most airports that will get you arrested, if you don’t have the requisite permits.

For those with strong constitutions and guile who like to live with risk, there is always the bald-faced lie. “No, it’s a viola, and if you look it up, your rules say I can carry it on board with me.” I have heard of one rather tall cellist, with an ultralight thin case, who hides it under his coat and puts it in the overhead bin. (But this only works on a 767.)

The danger of trying to pull a scam is that you could get caught. When you do get caught you only have two options – spend money, or check the instrument as baggage. In the first option, if you are lucky enough to be on a flight that was not overbooked, you might note that a ticket purchased 20 seconds before pushback from the gate is considerably more expensive than one purchased two weeks in advance.

Inevitably, carefully laid travel plans can get side tracked. On checking in recently, I found the airline had “changed equipment” – a euphemism for “you’re on a different aircraft and your bulkhead seat assignment doesn’t mean diddly.”

It is important to remain calm, cheerful, and understanding with airline personnel. Remember key phrases such as: “May I have your name, please,” and “I want to speak with your supervisor.” Always carry the toll-free reservation numbers for the airlines you are traveling on. If your flight is cancelled or delayed, the wait on the phone is much shorter than the wait behind 150 irate fellow travelers. Besides, bulkhead seats are at a premium, and the phone reservations people can deal with it easily. It brightens their day to speak with someone with a peculiar problem. “That’s very interesting sir, does it travel often!”

all rights reserved, Written by:
Michael Bersin
Department of Music
Central Missouri State University

Reprinted in TUTTI CELLI by the permission of STRINGS magazine.
The article appeared in the July/August issue of STRINGS

Considering the rarity of wood, the craftsmanship that goes into them it is very important to understand how to care for your instrument.

Understanding Humidity Part 1

Understanding Humidity Part 2 – 1

Understanding Humidity Part 2 – 2

Humidity Part 3

I was amazed 13 years ago when I found that a piece of solid wood furniture wasn’t solid.  There were connecting joints between one section of wood to the next.  It was explained that is just the way it is now, large pieces of wood don’t exist so much anymore.  Here are a couple videos in regards to the wood used in guitars.

State of Ebony with Taylor Guitars

Taylor Guitars on Spruce Wood

Taylor Guitars – Sourcing Spruce

Symphony Under the Sky draws music lovers to Wascana Park

Global News : Sunday, August 19, 2012 6:15 PM


Reginans gathered in Wascana Park Sunday for the Symphony Under the Sky music festival, put on by the Regina Symphony Orchestra. It’s an event that draws crowds every year, whether to have a bite at one of the many food vendors, take part in an art workshop, or even get a ten minute massage. But there’s one thing that keeps people coming back: the music. 

Sunday afternoon saw eight different bands play. Most of them were local artists from Regina. 

“I feel like we can bring people who don’t normally come to see our upbeat rock shows, and give them a taste of something different,” said Judd Stachoski, a member of the local band The Bystanders. 

This event was a chance for Stachoski and many others to get their names out, and at the same time, help draw in a crowd for the symphony orchestra, which was performing in the evening. After all, even though the RSO’s ricket sales are going strong, not everyone is into classical music. This event was the orchestra’s way of saying, ‘come give me a try.’ 

“Once people see what the orchestra can do… a lot of people do come out after that [to watch us],” said Colin Neufeld, who organized this event. 

It’s not only the RSO that benefits from this festival, either. 

“It exposes young people to classical music, and… we really appreciate that,” said Derek Arvidson from the Regina Classical Guitar Society. 

With over 70 volunteers on hand to keep things running, this festival was no easy task to plan and manage. But this year, it seemed to go off without a hitch.

Read it on Global News: Global Regina | Symphony Under the Sky draws music lovers to Wascana Park

Just started the process to legally register 8va Classical Guitar Studio.  In the next couple of weeks all should be in operational order and running proper and legal.  Why go through the effort of registration, application fees and city licensing, especially when most guitar teachers don’t?  This is an important process for a legitimate teaching facility, it demonstrates a compliance to regulation and stability for for the business, students and the community.  Also, it is a legality for running a business in the city of Regina.  It’s true, most guitar teachers don’t do this, most guitar teachers don’t claim their income on their taxes.  Talking with established piano teachers in the community, I have found that most piano teachers have their businesses registered.  True, established piano teachers also make a significantly larger amount of money in the operation of their business as well.  So this is just one more step I am making to legitimately establish classical guitar in the community and for my students.

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