Henry Ford on Effective Practice on Big Pieces
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!
“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”
Guitar practice is the study of simplification.
We start with complex pieces of music, and go about trying to wrap our heads around them.
To do this, we need to simplify. We need to break the piece of music into large sections, then smaller sections, then bits.
And not just that. We can break the bits into melody, bass and accompaniment. We can break pieces apart by rhythm patterns, right-hand patterns, or left-hand patterns.
We can isolate tricky spots and technical hornets’ nests. We can split the learning into key elements: notes, choreography, phrasing, memorization, speed and others.
We can drill even deeper and explore the connection of each little note to the next. We can chop, slice, and dice our music into a million pieces. And the more the divide, the stronger it will go back together.
And while it can be daunting to think of all these at once, none is particularly hard by itself.
It’s not particularly hard to play the melody. It’s not particularly hard to play rhythm. It’s not particularly hard to play the tricky spots, if simplified and played slowly enough.
Effective practice is taking small bites. First this, then that. A mighty tree felled with a small axe, one swing at a time.
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.
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I just upgraded. I have been thinking about it since day one, but wanted to see how it works out for me. I have to say, even though I did not put as much effort in as I expected to, I already hear and feel Improvements when playing compositions I learned some time ago, before joining The Woodshed.
I also want to thank you for including more video lessons on the Bridges Guitar Series. I have learned to play Calatayud's Waltz. The most exciting thing about having done this is that I sight read the entire piece as I was learning it. Six months ago looking at a sheet of music was like looking at Egyptian hieroglyphics. Learning to read notation is empowering and I appreciate the sensible way you are teaching us to learn to read music.
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