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  • Steven Morgan

Effective Practicing On Classical Guitar

There are many things that could be said on this subject, so for now I will pick just a few suggestions that have helped both myself and my students over the years.


Technique

Set aside a part of your daily practice session for technical excercises only. By carefully honing technical skills in isolation, we can reduce the time and effort it takes to learn new pieces. Think of technical exercises as creating a fully stocked pantry with ingredients to spare so that you don't have to run to the store every time you need something to make a meal. As you apply your bank of skills to new pieces, you will be able to learn the pieces far more quickly and, as a result, the overall process is much more enjoyable.

Recommended technical studies include:

- Scales (Segovia scales are very useful here) - Arpeggios

- Tremolo

- Small extracted parts of pieces you are working on that present a technical challenge

Practice small sections at a time

While there is a benefit to reading through pieces to get a sense of the music (and also for good sightreading practice), playing through a piece from beginning to end every time is generally not the best use of practice time. If the piece is difficult, I usually recommend about half a page a day for my students (or even less). Often, splitting practice up into a few measures or even part of a measure can be helpful.


Don't repeat the same passage too many times

A few repeats is fine and encouraged. Some suggest playing a section about 7 times before moving on. Why not just play the same measure over and over until you get it right, you ask? Because that is often a recipe for injury. Sometimes, our enthusiasm can exceed our physical endurance. I speak here from personal experience. Instead, after playing a difficult scale or phrase for a while, move to a different part of the piece to give your hand a rest through variety. You can always return to the difficult passage later.


Don't try to play through pain

Pain is your body is trying to tell you something. Joint pain, odd hand pain, neck pain, you name it. I've seen too many players over the years try to play through muscle and joint pain and it has led to injury.


Practice as accurately as possible

You may have heard the phrase, "Practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect." If you practice errors often enough, you learn incorrectly, and unlearning those mistakes takes time. Practicing accurately helps you learn the right way the first time. This is key to efficient practicing.



I hope these tips are helpful for you and improve your practice time.


Until next time,

Steve


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