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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

The Virtuous Guitarist 2

More About The Development Plan

My blog last week seemed to strike a chord (pardon the pun) with many readers. Thank you for your feedback - it is very helpful and most appreciated. Here are some more thoughts about becoming a virtuous guitarist.

The development plan includes six main points:

1. arranging
2. composing
3. sight-reading
4. knowledge of harmony and chords
5. playing chamber music
6. improvising

They are interrelated as I will describe. You can start with any point of the development plan. You can choose and develop it according to your personal inclination and preference.

Learning is a process which can be based on an organised and progressive method, and that's good, but it can also be quite different. Your learning could develop as a jigsaw puzzle: one piece over here (for example sight-reading) and another piece over there (for example composing). When you have enough jigsaw puzzle pieces in place you will see the bigger picture. In other words your learning becomes 'joined-up'. This is how children learn. That is how their brains work. Maybe we can learn something from our own childhood experience in this.

To sum up so far:
- the alternative development plan is based on six main points
- they are both separate and interrelated
- you adopt the learning process that best suits you

Now let me suggest how you can have loads of fun with the development plan as well as feel really inspired in your guitar-playing. Say you start by wanting to arrange a favourite piece, any piece. It could be the theme from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, an orchestral Prelude by Wagner, or a more manageable Sonata by Scarlatti. You choose.

To arrange a piece you will need to play / sight-read an original score. In the case of an orchestral work get hold of a piano reduction. As you struggle to read a piano score you will improve your sight-reading. You will also improve your knowledge of harmony by having to re-arrange the chords in a convincing manner for the guitar. As you work at the arrangement you will become very familiar with the original composition, thus helping you understand the process of composition for your own attempts.

You started from one of the development points: arranging. Now look where it has taken you:
arranging = sight-reading + chord analysis + finger-board knowledge + awareness of compositional process.

If you prefer to begin with improvising then the inter-action with the development plan could be as follows:
Improvising = composition + arranging + chord analysis + finger-board knowledge.

If you improvise with fellow musicians then you would add chamber music to that list.

Yet another example: let's start with chamber music. Some of it needs some changes to the part if you are playing from an arrangement (for example, music for guitar ensembles). Inter-action with the development could be as follows:
chamber music = sight-reading + arranging + chord analysis

Your technique may improve in leaps and bounds as you work at the development plan. Since you would not put an emphasis on technique, you would no longer be anxious about it. A relaxed approach to learning is the surest way to improve.

You need not undertake any preliminary work to get going on the development plan unless you really want to. You can jump in with both feet. The jigsaw puzzle will gradually emerge after you have splashed around a while.

When you see how the pieces fit together you will wade happily through the realm of the virtuous guitarist.

This has been my rough guide to The Virtuous Guitarist.

September 2011

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=688 .
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