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Old 11-20-2019, 12:36 AM
Su_H. Su_H. is offline
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Default And introduction and help

I would like to take this time to introduce myself. My name is Su and I started playing the classical guitar in 1992. However, from 2007 to 2019, i completely stopped playing and so my finger picking ability was almost non-existent when i started playing again this year. It has been my goal to play Austurias ever since I started playing. This will be my fifth attempt at Asturias and this attempt is the closest I've come to being able to do the triplets. I know, with dedication and patience, I will be able to play this piece in the near future. I'm simply looking for any tips that can help speed up the process. Lastly, I have a question concerning practice. When you have practiced very hard and you can feel the burn in your hand and forearm, do you play through the pain during the following days or do you let your muscles heal for the next few days?
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Old 11-20-2019, 03:29 AM
Kerbie Kerbie is offline
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Welcome, SH... hope you enjoy the AGF. For the benefit of other readers, I have moved your post from this thread to here. I think you might be better able to receive some help in this subforum, so many thanks to anyone who can assist our new member.
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Old 11-20-2019, 06:42 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Su_H. View Post
I have a question concerning practice. When you have practiced very hard and you can feel the burn in your hand and forearm, do you play through the pain during the following days or do you let your muscles heal for the next few days?
Heal! Absolutely do NOT "play through the pain". That will cause even more damage.

You should never experience pain when practising. As soon as you feel any pain anywhere; STOP. Either you've been practising for too long, or you're using an incorrect position; or possibly both.

Have you ever had classical guitar lessons? Are you having lessons now? They would fix any positional issues you might have, as well as any other technical problems you might be having.
One thing to say is that you don't really need that strict classical left-leg-plus-footstool position. It should make everything easier, but it is possible to play most classical pieces in other positions. But you do need to have both arms, wrists and hands in the optimum angles and positions.
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Old 11-20-2019, 07:46 AM
Norsepicker Norsepicker is offline
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Default Totally agree about donít play through the pain

When it hurts, stop and rest. I took classical lessons and I attribute a lower back and hip problem to using the stool, and from practicing too long and hard. Relaxed playing is the goal in classical anyway. You might want to back off Asturias for awhile. Trying to play a difficult piece you love can be counterproductive. Look for something that gives you the feel of triplets that is less difficult, eg. a blues piece. The work youíve already done on it will wait for you until youíre ready. Iíd also advise getting a guitar support. The Gitanos are cheap if you donít mind the suction cups and the fact they fall off sometimes. Iím having the Sagework magnets installed on my classicals, and I hope they work. If you donít know it already, classical playing is good preparation for fingerstyle, and while fingerstyle has itís own challenges it will positively inform your classical playing. Take a look at Dan Hollowayís website for some good fingerstyle instruction. Iím relatively new here myself, but welcome and take care of yourself.
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Old 11-20-2019, 02:24 PM
Su_H. Su_H. is offline
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Thank you, Norsepicker and Jon. I wished I had asked this question 20 years ago.

I was a music major in college and I had plenty of lessons but that question was never a concern of mine. Although I was a music major, I did not study the guitar like I'm studying it now. My instructor would tell me how to practice a certain skill and I would bang it out in few months and I would be able to do it. I began learning Austurias from my professor during my last semester and while he got me started, we never got into the nitty gritty of how to practice the triplets and how to develop the speed....and how to maintain a good right position while playing at your top speed etc.

Thank you, guys. I will take your advice and let my hand heal ..and I'll minimize my practice time on Austurias.
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Old 11-20-2019, 03:04 PM
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Yes, don't try to work "through" pain. I find pieces like this doable only when my fingernails in relation to each other have just the right
length and shape, and when all are polished. Otherwise it is very hard to be smooth and to have a minimum of hand movement, and that
leads to increased tension and fatigue.
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Old 11-20-2019, 05:00 PM
Su_H. Su_H. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
Yes, don't try to work "through" pain. I find pieces like this doable only when my fingernails in relation to each other have just the right
length and shape, and when all are polished. Otherwise it is very hard to be smooth and to have a minimum of hand movement, and that
leads to increased tension and fatigue.
I think you have just given me a great tip. I am going to shorten my strokes to achieve less movement. I'll let you know how things go in a few weeks. Thanks Rick.
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Old 11-20-2019, 05:30 PM
AndreF AndreF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Su_H. View Post
This will be my fifth attempt at Asturias and this attempt is the closest I've come to being able to do the triplets.
Hi Su, I also echo the other posters' comments on pain. It shouldn't be happening, so definitely pause and re-evaluate your approach.

If I may ask: What is it specifically about the triplets that is holding you back?
To be sure, it is a difficult piece, but an helpful aspect about it, especially where the triplets are concerned, is that it almost forces you at the very start to decide on a left and right hand fingering pattern that you don't ever deviate from.
The most popular right hand pattern for the triplets is a repeating ďp i mĒ, with the thumb playing the melody and i m the accompaniment.
From there, it's just a matter of playing it cleanly. Slow at first, and then building up speed as your right hand control improves.
The wrong thing to focus on is speed. The piece is played badly much more than it is played well, and the problem is that, once you get the passages memorized, it's tempting to go full throttle.
What suffers is fluidity and tone.
Once memorized, if you practice the triplets section slowly, by focusing on good tone and rhythmic finger movements (which will be helped by Rick's tip!), the piece will really start to sound nice, even if it's on the slow side.
A metronome can then help you to notch it up gradually.
Dynamic flow is essential too. The piece ebb and flows between soft and very loud passages. Practicing slowly, and cleanly, will help there too.
Ironically, the "flashy" parts of Asturias, imo, once you have memorized the fingering, are relatively easy compared to keeping the entire piece "together" as a whole, i.e. integrating the fast and the slow elements in a musically coherent fashion. It's a very long piece, and it all has to click.
It's a challenge for sure. I admire your courage!
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Old 11-21-2019, 03:49 PM
Su_H. Su_H. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndreF View Post
Hi Su, I also echo the other posters' comments on pain. It shouldn't be happening, so definitely pause and re-evaluate your approach.

If I may ask: What is it specifically about the triplets that is holding you back?
To be sure, it is a difficult piece, but an helpful aspect about it, especially where the triplets are concerned, is that it almost forces you at the very start to decide on a left and right hand fingering pattern that you don't ever deviate from.
The most popular right hand pattern for the triplets is a repeating “p i m”, with the thumb playing the melody and i m the accompaniment.
From there, it's just a matter of playing it cleanly. Slow at first, and then building up speed as your right hand control improves.
The wrong thing to focus on is speed. The piece is played badly much more than it is played well, and the problem is that, once you get the passages memorized, it's tempting to go full throttle.
What suffers is fluidity and tone.
Once memorized, if you practice the triplets section slowly, by focusing on good tone and rhythmic finger movements (which will be helped by Rick's tip!), the piece will really start to sound nice, even if it's on the slow side.
A metronome can then help you to notch it up gradually.
Dynamic flow is essential too. The piece ebb and flows between soft and very loud passages. Practicing slowly, and cleanly, will help there too.
Ironically, the "flashy" parts of Asturias, imo, once you have memorized the fingering, are relatively easy compared to keeping the entire piece "together" as a whole, i.e. integrating the fast and the slow elements in a musically coherent fashion. It's a very long piece, and it all has to click.
It's a challenge for sure. I admire your courage!
Thank you, Andre, for responding. I sincerely hope you didn't think I neglected your post. I saw it yesterday but I was busy and working. I want to first say I am grateful for the time you have taken to share your expertise while advising me. I did what you recommended today and I realized how much more work I need to do before I can conquer this piece. Just within this year, I felt, on more than one occasion, that I was on the verge of being able to do the triplets and each time I felt that - I soon realized I am far from it.

The following is how I practice the triplets and in it I'll explain where I have trouble.
1. With the right hand only - practice triplets at 60 bpm for about 7 to 10 minutes.
2. Right hand only - triplets at 80 bpm for about 2 minutes.
3. Triplets at 100 bpm for about 2 minutes

100 bpm and below, I feel comfortable and in control.

4. At 120 bpm, I can do it and stay in tempo but my right hand shifts and begins to look disfigured ( not having good posture )
5. At 140 bpm, I can stay in pace with the metronome but I can tell the rhythm is slightly off and my right hand is taking on a whole new form LOL.
6. I bump it to 200 bpm. I am no longer plucking. It seems like a roll...and I do this with the thought that I can force my hand to play faster.
7. I come down to 180 bpm. Same thing - roll and disfigured right hand.
8. 160 bpm - almost the same but I can somewhat pluck.
9. I come back to 140 bpm and this time I feel I have more control after having played much faster prior.

I end my triplet session at 60 pbm with the intention to remind my hand what a proper posture is....and it is at this point my right hand is completely exhausted.

Please advise me if I'm practicing too hard, not enough, and or ineffectively.
Again, I want to thank you. Just by doing what you recommended for roughly an hour - made me realized how terrible my right hand is and how much more work needed to be done for me to conquer Austurias.

edit: I want to mention that when I play the triplets with the left and right hand, it is at 80 bpm and below that the magic of Austurias is still there. At 100 bpm and faster, the magic is gone LOL.

Sincerely
Su

Last edited by Su_H.; 11-21-2019 at 04:41 PM. Reason: Incomplete
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Old 11-21-2019, 09:23 PM
AndreF AndreF is offline
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Hi Su,
Many thanks for your informative feedback answer to my question. I have a better idea now what youíre up to. And no, no worries, I donít dwell at all on whether any responses to my post are coming. I leave that totally up to the OP!
Regarding the info you provided, a couple of things to consider:
1) Right hand shifts and discomfort
Sounds like, when you start to speed up past your comfort zone, your hand position changes and gets tensed up. That shouldnít be happening.
What I would suggest, now that you have surely memorized the left hand movements, is to practice using a mirror, and focus your attention on the right hand, making sure that, no matter what speed you are playing at, it stays steady. No bouncing, turning or tensing up. If you canít prevent it from happening, then youíve exceeded your current speed limit. STOP. Turn it back down to where you are in control. And stay there for the time being.
Keep it clean and steady. With time, youíll be able to notch it up. But the right hand has to look the same, just as if you were playing slowly. This piece is especially demanding of good right hand control.
Practicing with a mirror is very useful for this purpose. It should help you find your maximum comfort zone, i.e. where you need to be at this time.
(Speed will come later, but you can't rush it).

2) Metronome BPM settings:
Personally, I canít deal with a metronome clicking away at those fast settings you mentioned. Iím not even sure how 200 bpm figures into the music itself, in terms of the pulse or what youíre hearing in your head.
What I would do is select a much slower metronome setting, and steadily integrate the various parts around that, rather than always the triplets.
Hereís what I mean:
I have a few transcriptions of this piece but the one I used many years ago is a Schott Edition (GA 445) by Konrad Ragossnig.
The piece is in 3/4, and his suggested tempo is (1/4 note = ~ 108).
Thatís very fast. Faster than even many performances by top players. Perhaps also slower. But itís a righteous goal nonetheless.
A suggested practice would be:
BPM 1/4 note = 60. Or even lower. Start at the first triplet section (measure 17), going as far in as you want, but with the thumb only, playing only the melody (two notes per click). Then, start over and add i at that speed, alternating with the thumb. Focusing on clean execution, with good tone.
Lastly, play the full triplets.
So, I would break it down like that, and minimize all those extra "full" steps you are doing, i.e. playing triplets only at various speeds.
It should help solidify your control as your fingers rhythmically adapt to the changes, at a steady tempo, but all the while keeping the melody in focus.
Youíll start thinking less about triplets, and more about the flow and expression of the music from measure 1 and beyond. (The triplets are really just an emotive tool for the music, not to be thought of as anything mechanical or separate from the rest. Not that you are thinking like that, but sometimes we tend to get stuck in a rut, especially dealing with technical challenges. It helps to look at the issue from a different viewpoint).

If you get past or around 80 that way,(i.e. 1/4 note beats) you are already playing it pretty darn fast.

Maybe that's what you meant by:
Quote:
"edit: I want to mention that when I play the triplets with the left and right hand, it is at 80 bpm and below that the magic of Austurias is still there. At 100 bpm and faster, the magic is gone LOL."
You're so right!. It's the kind of music that can sound good played and practiced at slow tempo. Use that as a helpful tool! I do it all the time.

I hope the above makes sense. Note: These are just practice suggestions on my part. In the end, you decide ultimately what works best for you!
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Andre
http://www.youtube.com/user/Gitfiddlemann
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  #11  
Old 11-22-2019, 06:24 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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^ Great advice!

I'd also suggest (if it's not too obvious), watch some professionals playing the tune - there's a few on youtube - and look at the position and action of their right hand. Make yours look like that!
Not everyone's hand is quite the same, but the relaxed position combined with minimal movement is consistent.

Also - and this might not need saying either - make sure your fingernails are just the right length and shape. This kind of picking really shows up nails that are too long or the wrong shape. Again, plenty of advice online about how to shape your nails (and how not to!).
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Old 11-22-2019, 08:11 AM
AndreF AndreF is offline
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Yes, YouTube can be a great friend this way.
One of my favorites, and a good one to use as a role model for this piece. From a live performance. Exquisite control and beauty of tone:
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  #13  
Old 11-23-2019, 02:12 PM
Su_H. Su_H. is offline
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I love Ana. I love her phrasing.
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Old 11-23-2019, 05:56 PM
Su_H. Su_H. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndreF View Post
Hi Su,
Many thanks for your informative feedback answer to my question. I have a better idea now what youíre up to. And no, no worries, I donít dwell at all on whether any responses to my post are coming. I leave that totally up to the OP!
Regarding the info you provided, a couple of things to consider:
1) Right hand shifts and discomfort
Sounds like, when you start to speed up past your comfort zone, your hand position changes and gets tensed up. That shouldnít be happening.
What I would suggest, now that you have surely memorized the left hand movements, is to practice using a mirror, and focus your attention on the right hand, making sure that, no matter what speed you are playing at, it stays steady. No bouncing, turning or tensing up. If you canít prevent it from happening, then youíve exceeded your current speed limit. STOP. Turn it back down to where you are in control. And stay there for the time being.
Keep it clean and steady. With time, youíll be able to notch it up. But the right hand has to look the same, just as if you were playing slowly. This piece is especially demanding of good right hand control.
Practicing with a mirror is very useful for this purpose. It should help you find your maximum comfort zone, i.e. where you need to be at this time.
(Speed will come later, but you can't rush it).

2) Metronome BPM settings:
Personally, I canít deal with a metronome clicking away at those fast settings you mentioned. Iím not even sure how 200 bpm figures into the music itself, in terms of the pulse or what youíre hearing in your head.
What I would do is select a much slower metronome setting, and steadily integrate the various parts around that, rather than always the triplets.
Hereís what I mean:
I have a few transcriptions of this piece but the one I used many years ago is a Schott Edition (GA 445) by Konrad Ragossnig.
The piece is in 3/4, and his suggested tempo is (1/4 note = ~ 108).
Thatís very fast. Faster than even many performances by top players. Perhaps also slower. But itís a righteous goal nonetheless.
A suggested practice would be:
BPM 1/4 note = 60. Or even lower. Start at the first triplet section (measure 17), going as far in as you want, but with the thumb only, playing only the melody (two notes per click). Then, start over and add i at that speed, alternating with the thumb. Focusing on clean execution, with good tone.
Lastly, play the full triplets.
So, I would break it down like that, and minimize all those extra "full" steps you are doing, i.e. playing triplets only at various speeds.
It should help solidify your control as your fingers rhythmically adapt to the changes, at a steady tempo, but all the while keeping the melody in focus.
Youíll start thinking less about triplets, and more about the flow and expression of the music from measure 1 and beyond. (The triplets are really just an emotive tool for the music, not to be thought of as anything mechanical or separate from the rest. Not that you are thinking like that, but sometimes we tend to get stuck in a rut, especially dealing with technical challenges. It helps to look at the issue from a different viewpoint).

If you get past or around 80 that way,(i.e. 1/4 note beats) you are already playing it pretty darn fast.

Maybe that's what you meant by:


You're so right!. It's the kind of music that can sound good played and practiced at slow tempo. Use that as a helpful tool! I do it all the time.

I hope the above makes sense. Note: These are just practice suggestions on my part. In the end, you decide ultimately what works best for you!
Thank you, Andre, for the guitar lesson. As I mentioned before, I didn't study guitar playing as thoroughly before as I am doing now. I need to build control before I can build speed. Thank you for teaching me that....(my professor has told me many times to practice slow but I never understood why) I understand now. Thank you.
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  #15  
Old 11-23-2019, 08:16 PM
AndreF AndreF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Su_H. View Post
Thank you, Andre, for the guitar lesson. As I mentioned before, I didn't study guitar playing as thoroughly before as I am doing now. I need to build control before I can build speed. Thank you for teaching me that....(my professor has told me many times to practice slow but I never understood why) I understand now. Thank you.
Youíre very welcome Su! Good luck with Asturias and do keep us posted on your progress!
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Andre
http://www.youtube.com/user/Gitfiddlemann
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