I have been reflecting of late on the recent change of direction with regard to my classical guitar learning curve.
Six years ago I wandered along to Synge Street for my first guitar lesson with the dude known as The Guitar Man He asked me what style of guitar playing I was interested in learning. I duly informed him that my goal was to play the piece known as ‘Cavatina’, and so we started wandering down the road of Classical Guitar Everest.
I had no clear idea of how best to proceed. The notion of doing graded exams seemed to make sense to me and so I started to stroll in that direction.
I began to acquire new playing skills; hammers, harmonics, barres and pull offs, not to mention the crucial aspects of timing and counting.
I sailed happily along through grades two to five before coming a cropper at grade six due to lack of speed.
From time to time I raised the possibility of learning ‘Cavatina’ with The Guitar Man. His response was always the same.
‘You’re not ready for that yet’.
And, to a degree, he was right. It is a very challenging piece to play. Yet if you don’t at least try to achieve something then there is zero chance of succeeding.
Differences over money led to a parting of our ways when The Virtual Music School For People With Disabilities came into being and I then began to search online for ‘Cavatina’ tutorials, finding the excellent Tavi Jinariu from Elite Guitarist.
I learned the basics of the piece in a fortnight.
I still have a lot of work to do in order to bring it up to speed (target is 80 beats per minute, currently I’m at 45) but this task is made so much easier by the fact that the sounds that I am making are pleasing to my ear.
Becoming proficient at a musical instrument is mostly about muscle memory, training fingers to behave in near automatic fashion.This can only be achieved through practice and repetition, things that are more enjoyably done when the sound fits the person.
Of the 21 graded pieces that I learned, there is only one, ‘Parisian waltz’, that I still play. The other pieces did improve my technique but no more than that.
I have many things to thank The Guitar Man for.
Yet I do also look back on our time together with some questions.