CGTB 1: What Is This Anyway?


This blog is an effort to present the results of a research project I did while in graduate school for a masters degree in classical guitar. Essentially my project involved splitting the act of learning a piece of classical guitar music into two broad categories. The first category was the mental aspects of learning a piece of music. Things like musicianship, analysis, phrasing. The second category was the physical aspect of playing guitar, or the technique.

The idea for the research project came to me because I believed I had potential to improve as a musician but I didn't have a clear path on how to do so. I found myself struggling to do what seemed like basic things such as plan out a practice session or make technical decisions about a passage. And I was not really receiving answers from books or teachers or peers that I felt comprehensively addressed my problems. I felt like there had to be more information about technique and practicing and a process for applying that knowledge than what I was getting from the method books I was using or the people I was studying with.

So, I set out on an academic journey to discover "what is out there on the mental and physical aspects of learning classical guitar music?" So that meant hours of reading. As of writing this first description/post of this blog/podcast I have not looked at my bibliography in awhile, but the list of YouTube videos, CDs, DVDs, books, and interviews with guitarists, grew very long.

By the end of the project I was surprised not only at how much information I had gathered, but how spread out it was. There was good information in all the sources I reviewed, but there was not one book that comprehensively covered all the information I had gathered. But once I started to apply the knowledge I had gathered to my own playing, the improvements I was seeing and hearing confirmed to me that this project had value. I then started to notice other people had the same problems/questions I did and that is when the potential for this project to be useful to others became a possibility.


So, having said all this, I would like to outline the goals of the Classical Guitar Tool Box here on this first description/post of the podcast. Of course, the program will evolve over time, but I have a pretty good vision of it to start with:

1) Present through video, podcast/audio, and writing the information from my project on practicing and technique.

2) To present a method and process of learning a piece of music that is comprehensive. My goal is to create something that can walk people through a step by step process of learning a piece of music that is also flexible enough to modify and taylor to an individual's needs and preferences once they are familiar with it.

3) To gather all the information I learned about technique and present it in one place that is easy to access, understand, and apply.

4) I believe part of the future of guitar and other instruments is understanding anatomy and physiology in order to develop an awareness of the body that allows one to play the instrument effectively. I also believe there is vocabulary from anatomy and physiology that is not difficult to understand or internalize but would dramatically improve the ability to communicate about guitar technique.

5) What I believe I have to offer in the Classical Guitar Tool Box is communication skills. There are guitarist who play as well as me and many who play better than I do. I believe the value of this blog however is my ability to communicate knowledge that many musicians know and have internalized but struggle to effectively communicate and present. In the long run my goal is to develop a community where people can add or improve what I am doing here. I hope this blog helps people play classical guitar with greater ease and freedom and increases the accessibility and enjoyment of the instrument. And I hope this way of thinking I present here is taken up by players better than myself one day and they can fill in the gaps I am incapable of covering.

6) On a personal level, I believe in making the world a better place. I think part of doing that is contributing to something like music that brings people together, creates or expresses meaning in their lives, and gives them something to do other than eating and watching TV (huge fan of both don't get me wrong). Part of personal wellness and health is having something to do with your time that brings you joy and meaning. To the degree that this blog achieves this is my very small contribution to making the world a slightly better place.

Thank you for listening/reading/watching and I hope you find my work useful.