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45 Minute Classical Guitar Mastery

The Ultimate Routine to Master Classical Guitar


By Richard Stadler

Published by Richard Stadler Guitar


6100 Meadowland Circle, Erie, PA 16501
2010 Richard Stadler
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form or manner without
the written permission of the author. This includes information storage and retrieval systems, or being
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short excerpts of this book in a review.
Limit of Liability / Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used
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warranties. There are no warranties that extend beyond the descriptions contained in this paragraph. No
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The advice and strategies contained herein may or may not apply or be suitable for every readers
particular situation. Readers should consult with other professionals where appropriate. The accuracy
and completeness of the information provided, advice, strategies, and opinions stated herein are not
guaranteed or warranted to produce specific results. The information may not be suitable for every
individual, and may have to be tailored to suit individual needs.
By providing information or links to third-party companies or websites, the publisher
and the author do not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available offered by
such parties. This book is designed to provide information with regard to the subject matter covered.
Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for any losses or damages associated with reading
this book, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.
Cover Guitarist: Chaconne Klaverenga http://www.chaconneklaverenga.com
Cover Photographer: John Terhune
Cover Design: Ian Smith
Photographer Hands: Nanae Fujiwara & friends
Editor: Laura Stadler-Jensen
Assistant Editor: Colin Viertelhausen
Book Layout: Scott Wollschleger
Music Editor: Scott Wollschleger & Michael See
First Printing: August 2010
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data: Application in progress
ISBN-13: 978-1453894521

For More Information


Visit the web site: www.RichardStadler.com

This book is dedicated to Nicholas Lambson.


This book is dedicated to my teacher and friend, Nicholas Lambson, a master guitarist and
pedagogue at Humbolt State University. Nicholas Lambson played a key role in teaching
me how to master the classical guitar, to which I am truly grateful. It was largely due to his
help and teachings that I was able to successfully play the guitar again after a long series of
physical challenges and setbacks. His guidance and expertise in classical guitar technique,
including important aspects in ergonomics, posture and stroke execution gave me the
foundation to not only play again, but to become a teacher myself. The lessons I learned
from our work together and from my own journey back to the guitar are what form the
foundation for this book. It is my intention to share with you what has been helpful to me
in the hopes that you too can benefit and master classical guitar as well.

Table of Contents
Authors Preface............................................................................................................................................. 8
How to Use 45 Minute Classical Guitar Mastery...................................................................................... 8
Thank you.................................................................................................................................................... 10
Introduction................................................................................................................................................. 11
Basis of Exercises ......................................................................................................................................... 12
Exercise # 1 Reflexive R.H. Hinges............................................................................................................. 13
Exercise # 2 Arpeggios................................................................................................................................. 23
Exercise # 3 Right Hand Walking............................................................................................................... 30
Exercise # 4 Left Hand Legato..................................................................................................................... 39
Exercise # 5 Slurs......................................................................................................................................... 44
Exercise # 6 Left & Right Synchronization................................................................................................. 52
Exercise # 7 Synchronized Shifting.............................................................................................................. 58
Exercise # 8 Scales: Parts & Whole ............................................................................................................ 62
Exercise # 9 Rasqueados.............................................................................................................................. 66
Exercise # 10 Chromatic Octaves ............................................................................................................... 72
Exercise # 11 Left Hand Expansion............................................................................................................. 76
Exercise # 12 Finger Independence............................................................................................................. 79
Exercise # 13 Silent Strings.......................................................................................................................... 82
Exercise # 14 Bar Chords............................................................................................................................. 86
Exercise # 15 Dynamics............................................................................................................................... 88
General Suggestions on Practice ................................................................................................................. 92
Terms and Definitions Right & Left........................................................................................................... 98

Left Hand .................................................................................................................................................... 98


Right Hand................................................................................................................................................. 108
Nail Care..................................................................................................................................................... 111
Nail Shape.................................................................................................................................................. 112
Nail Smoothing & Polishing...................................................................................................................... 113
Posture........................................................................................................................................................ 114
Analysis of R.H. Finger Stroke 3PR Formula............................................................................................ 117
Tone Color.................................................................................................................................................. 118
Further Reading & Resources................................................................................................................... 120
Secrets Tricks and Suggestions................................................................................................................... 121
About the Author....................................................................................................................................... 123

Author Preface
Welcome to 45 Minute Classical Guitar Mastery, a short book on classical guitar technique. The
instructions throughout the various sections consist of a combination of the most useful and valuable
lessons I have learned from my teachers over the years, in addition to in-depth research conducted while
searching for the best tools that would allow me to play the guitar again. I practice these every day and I
consistently develop in my playing as a result. The Goal of this book is to share the opportunity for
classical guitar mastery with as many people as possible through 15 exercises and a wealth of cutting edge
information.
This book is intended for guitarists who wish to build a rock solid playing technique, guitarists that want
to improve their technique in minimal time with no wasted effort, guitarists who wish to rebuild their
technique, and guitarists recovering from playing related injuries. Amateurs that simply want to master
specific techniques or learn the fundamentals of solid playing technique will also benefit immensely from
this book.
Students that study this book should have a background in reading music and basic rhythm skills as well
as be familiar with the basic anatomy of the guitar and the classical guitar labeling of both the right and
left hand (p,i,ma and 1,2,3,4), but are not required to have any previous playing experience.
How to use 45 Minute Classical Guitar Mastery
Every exercise should be played as slow as possible to allow the nervous system to form continually
improving habits. For this reason all exercises should be played initially at 40 BPM on the metronome.
Even after the exercises have been mastered there is no need to play any of the exercises faster than 60
90 BPM. This is because these exercises are based on awareness, and generally the slower we move, the
more we (our minds and our bodies) become aware of what we are doing. This awareness is what allows
us to improve.
For maximum results, the student should learn the exercises in order, studying one exercise for at least
two weeks or longer before moving on to the next. Once the lesson is learned and mastered, the student
will go on to learn the next exercise and the previous exercise will be added to the accumulating set of 15
exercises to be practiced every day. Eventually the student will practice all 15 exercises every day. In the
beginning when the student has a tremendous amount of detail to refine in the exercises, the entire set
can take upwards of approximately two to three hours to complete effectively. In this case the student
should take small 5-15 minute breaks every half an hour or so.
Once the student has mastered or has become highly proficient in these exercises the entire set of 15 can
be played in less than 45 minutes. The mastery of these exercises will leave students fully technically
prepared to execute any piece in the classical repertoire. This process can be completed in as little as seven
months or can take several years depending upon the learning curve of the student and other
circumstances.

Other guitarists may choose to select exercises that correspond to the aspects of playing they wish to
improve and use the book whenever necessary to improve their technique.
45 Minute Classical Guitar Mastery is a series of 15 exercises that should be studied daily in order to
fully develop the required technical abilities and used as a warm up routine for classical guitar mastery.
They have been designed to maximize the students time and effectiveness in improving their technical
playing facility.
Obviously it is not possible to cover all aspects of classical guitar in 15 exercises, but by practicing this
core material the hands become completely ready for extended techniques as well as standard uses.
The exercises are ordered and constructed in such a way as to avoid unnecessary repetition. Although
repetition is needed in music study, guitarists should use only the required energy to warm up and play
technical studies while saving the bulk of their energy for repertoire. This is the chief reason the full set of
exercises last no more than 45 minutes.
Finally, to get a head start, it is recommended that these exercises be worked on in conjunction with
Nicholas Lambsons foundational Warm Ups #s 1-5. Once the student has mastered Lambsons core five
Warm Ups, they can focus on the more advanced applications in 45 Minute Classical Guitar Mastery.

Thank You
My sincerest thanks to the Lord, for without His mercy this book would not have been possible. I
would also like to thank my earlier guitar teachers Chris Hanson, Mark Heverly, John Wunsch,
and Stewart Fox -- thank you for all of the valuable knowledge you have shared with me over the
years. I also want to thank Feldenkrais practitioner Jandy Bergmann for inspiring me to become
more aware of the way I play the guitar, and for being a great teacher. Finally, thank you to my
family and friends for your eternal support, especially, my mother, Christopher, Craig, Laura, Dr.
Tasmin Cordie, Scott Wollshleger, Corry Shores, Michael See, Theresa Mussotto, Geoff Dunn,
Candy Wilson, and all my students. Thank you.

Introduction
When I met Nicholas Lambson in 2008 I had already been playing and studying classical
guitar for 18 years and had attempted to rebuild my technique several times on account of
hand injuries with no real success. I started playing when I was 11 years old and found that
the combination of many hours of practice every day over a three year period coupled with
my natural aptitude for the instrument enabled me to play just about any song in the
repertoire.
I was giving full length recitals by the time I was 16 years old and was recognized as the top
player in all the master classes I attended. All this seemed great but the problem was that
my technical foundation was completely unstable. I had mostly been self taught and had
integrated many different kinds of teachings from multiple teachers. This approach
towards playing and learning technique landed me in the situation of not being able to
play when I was 19 years old due to guitar playing hand injuries.
I tried everything that promised to help my situation, I even had surgery, but in the end
nothing really seemed to help me in the long term. I put the guitar down for periods of
months and even years while I studied music composition, theatre production, film, and
choreography. I thought I had actually fully let go of my desire to play guitar, but when I
met Nicholas Lambson in 2008 while attending Humboldt University as a dance major, he
convinced me that if I went through his technical boot camp I would indeed be able to
play again.
My main focus of attending Humboldt was dance, so there was less pressure in my guitar
study, which I believe enabled me to rebuild my technique more easily. It took time for my
trust to grow, but slowly and surely I watched as my hands became fully capable of playing
the guitar again. It was a very rewarding process but I did have one setback. Towards the
completion of technical boot camp I re-injured my arm while I was learning to shift on the
guitar. The method Professor Lambson was teaching was effective but was not blending
well with my old injury. This prompted a new level of investigation that ultimately inspired
me to produce The 45 Minute Guitarist.
I researched the Feldenkrais method and the Alexander Technique as applied to classical
guitar and through careful intention combined the core principles of Nicholas Lambsons
Technique with the new information I found in the two movement systems. Using this
research I composed a set of 14 Exercises that cover all the most important aspects of
classical guitar playing technique that can be played daily in about 45 minutes.

Basis of Exercises
These exercises were founded on the principles of the Feldenkrais Method, and were intended to
be practiced using the principles of Alexander Technique, both of which are movement awareness
processes.
"The Alexander Technique is a method that works to change (movement) habits in our everyday activities. It is
a simple and practical method for improving ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and
coordination. The technique teaches the use of the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity, giving
you more energy for all your activities. It is not a series of treatments or exercises, but rather a reeducation of
the mind and body. The Alexander Technique is a method which helps a person discover a new balance in the
body by releasing unnecessary tension. It can be applied to sitting, lying down, standing, walking, lifting, and
other daily activities..." (http://www.alexandertechnique.com/at.htm)

In the Terms and Definitions section I build on my own understanding and re-interpret much of
Ethan Kinds work on the Alexander Technique and how it applies to classical guitar.
The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic educational process created by the Israeli physicist Moshe
Feldenkrais (19041984). The Feldenkrais method was designed to improve movement,
coordination, and reduce pain or limitations in movement; Aiming to refine the use of the self
through awareness, and promote well-being through self awareness.
My personal experience through practicing Feldenkrais exercises was a realization that when I
isolated the individual movements that make up a complex movement and became more aware of
them, I was able to perform the complex movement far better than I was able to before I became
aware of the individual movements, and with less effort. When the body and mind become aware
of basic movements those movements could then be synergized and synchronized in a far more
sophisticated way then by consciously trying to move the body. In other words, by bringing
attention to its parts, the body becomes far more capable of using its sum of parts effectively, and is
able to do so with less effort.
By using these isolation exercises the student will become much more aware and flexible during
complex passages. Each exercise when practiced alone will bring technical results, and like all the
isolated movements in a complex movement, when all of these exercises are played and the student
becomes aware of all of the individual small movements, the student will have maximum results.
I have personally seen the best results from these exercises when I have played through the entire
set, as opposed to picking one or a few to work on every day.

Exercise #1
Reflexive R.H. Hinges
Top 4 Things to Remember:
P.R.I.T. (Position, Reflexive, Initiate, Tone)
1. Position
Make sure that your R.H. position conforms to the 15 point checklist.
1. Position allows the fingers and thumb to move easily and primarily from the largest
knuckles in the hand back into the palm and for the thumb in the wrist joint to move
towards the side of the index finger (close to its middle or tip knuckle).
Planted block chord position

Large knuckles twitching fingers into palm

2. Position does not strain the wrist, fingers, or thumb.


3. Position allows for a high enough wrist so the fingers can depress the strings at a 45 degree
angle to the sound hole (towards the palm) and not hook the strings instead.

4. Position must facilitate all the fingers highest tone quality without having to change
positions to accommodate any finger or the thumb. Note that the thumb moves from bass
string to bass string independently of the other fingers in the R.H.
Thumb 4th string

Thumb 5th string

Thumb 6th string

5. Position needs to accommodate the switching from wound basses to nylon strings by not
changing the fingers path of motion but instead changing the relationship of the hand
angle to the arm. This can be facilitated by allowing the weight of the right hand to deviate
the wrist slightly as it moves into the bass positions.
6. The fingers only move as reflexive hinges and do not rotate or move sideways.
7. Position must enable the consistent sweet spot planting of the finger tips.
8. Position should allow for minimal movement, but shouldnt constrict movement in any
way.
9. Position should include about inch of space from the strings and does not require the
fingers to constantly be resting on the strings.
10. Position must enable even tone at all dynamic ranges of peak volume and quietness.
11. Position must allow the fingers to stay slightly in front of the strings during their resting
position so they do not have to reach before they approach the string.
12. Position must enable the fingers to return to their resting/ready position reflexively
without touching any strings on their release which would create undesired noises like
string rattling.
13. Position must allow freedom for the fingertips to be flexible and give at the tip.

14. Position should support a dynamic range of tone colors while the arm switches positions
horizontally across the strings without having to changing the posture of the R.H. itself.
15. Position must facilitate the thumbs independent path for stroking so that it does not
collide with other fingers. This is facilitated by keeping the thumb ahead of the fingers.
2.Reflexive
The right hand fingers and thumb should function like door hinges that spring close reflexively
from the large knuckles and twitch open reflexively springing the hinges open to the fingers and
thumbs starting positions. The reflexive speed of the R.H. strokes should remain constant.
3.Initiate
The fingers should twitch into the palm and their primary movement should be initiated from the
large knuckles.
4.Tone
Remember above all else the 45 degree angle displacement of the string towards the sound hole
and the back of the palm in warm tone production.
To avoid harsh tone and indistinct rhythm, use the flexibility of the finger tips to control volume
while maintaining constant reflexive speed in the R.H. finger strokes. To produce a louder sound,
use stiffer finger tips. To produce a softer sound, use more flexible finger tips.

Terms in Exercise #1
Ordinary

Ordinary is the standard position where the right hand feels most comfortable and produces its
best tone. This is generally directly over or slightly behind the sound hole.
Ponticello

To play ponticello, the right hand plays on the strings near the bridge of the guitar.

Sul Tasto

To play sul tasto also known as tasto, the Right hand plays on the strings near or over the
fingerboard of the guitar as opposed to over the sound hole or near the bridge.
Directions
1. Play at a medium volume with balanced voices so that all the strings are the same volume.
2. Throughout this exercise use the side of the thumb (the area of the side of the thumb from
the tip knuckle back towards the wrist knuckle) to mute the ringing basses from previous
chords.
Tips
1. Silently planting the R.H. fingers making the vibrating strings go immediately into silence
just before applying pressure and plucking the strings again is equally important to all other
aspects of this exercise. Use caution to avoid rattling and excess noise when returning the
R.H. fingers to the strings. Think silence and move confidently back towards the strings
letting the flesh of the finger tips lead you. The flesh of the fingertips will silence the string
most effectively.
2. When changing positions from the outer, middle, and lowest strings, move the forearm
from back near the elbow. Allow the R.H.s weight to change the angle of the hand to the
arm to prevent scratching sounds on the bass strings.

Position I

Position II

Position III

3. When switching tone color on the guitar move the right arm horizontally across the guitar.
The right arm moves freely in the shoulder socket with the shoulder blades following the
movement of the arm. Avoid lifting the shoulder or pulling the shoulder blades together
for position changes.
4. When accenting individual strings in the block chords, use extra string
displacement(weight) towards the sound hole and towards the back of the palm of the R.H.
on the string that is being accented, while using less displacement on the others strings in
the chord just before releasing(plucking) the string.

Accenting with thumb on the 4th string (notice the 4th string is more displaced)

Accenting with index finger on the 3rd string (notice the 3rd string is more displaced)

Accenting with middle finger on the 2nd string (notice the 2nd string is more displaced)

Accenting with annular finger on the 1st string (notice the 1st string is more displaced)

Exercise # 1
Reflexive R.H. Hinges
Richard Stadler
ordinary

m
i
p

m
i
p

13

15

Accent p with
string displacement

17

Accent m with
string displacement

19

ponticello

ordinary

sul tasto

ordinary

ordinary

ponticello

ordinary

sul tasto

ordinary

ordinary

ponticello

ordinary

sul tasto

ordinary

Accent i with
string displacement
i

Accent a with
string displacement
a

Copyright Richard Stadler 2010