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Oscar Ghiglia & Elena Papandreu

What to do with one phrase!

Without guitar

- defining the melody

- singing the melody while you count with your arm. You try to sing
like a good singer and conduct like a good conductor. You do not
just imitate your playing, but the opposite. This way you will find
how you want your melody to sound like.

- tonality, chords etc.

- fingering without the guitar thinking of musical reasons for the

fingering and not only comfort (comfort is also important but comes

- you play in your mind only by reading the score thinking where
you are going to place your fingers, this way your hand nerves
already prepare for playing and you do not get tired.

- Sitting upright and relaxed

with guitar

- play ONLY slowly till you build the phrase solid technically and
mature musically

- record all your practising and listen regularly to what it sounds

like. Record even your singing or playing just the melody. Take
notes on your score of what you have to improve.

- play only the melody till it sounds as you sang it

- play only the chords

- play the complete phrase trying to listen to everything. Does the

melody still sound the same as when you sang it and played it

- check once in a while every note and rhythm to make sure no

wrong ones appeared on the way! Read starting from the last bar
towards the first so it is like sight-reading, so you really see what is
written and not what you play.
- ensure that you understand all musical terms written by the
composer. Including the title of the piece!

- make sure you press the strings exactly next to the frets

- careful work for every single shift. Both hands simultaneously and
quickly even in slow tempi.

- play without looking at your hand and preferably with closed eyes.

- at the beginning do not give priority to counting but to listening to

the notes, intervals, chords, melodic lines.

- give shape, dynamics, colours from the beginning

- other melodic lines except the main melody?

- if there is a repeat what will you do different?

- do not repeat without knowing why.

- when you learn by heart play one note/chord at a time after you
think which one it is and where you have to place your fingers.

- practise without looking at your left hand even for big shifts. Learn
the exact quick motion for every distance.

- without guitar, think of the picture of the fret board, the string,
fret and finger you use and how does it sound. Do not forget to
think of the open strings.

- you define safety spots every 2-3 staves which you know one after
the other. When you play think where is the next such spot and if
you get lost go to that one. Do NOT pick from before.

- when all these aspects are perfect and you have a GREAT slow
phrase by all means, ONLY then you increase the speed. You may
use a metronome now. But NOT before this point. Metronome
creates deaf musicians when used too early! While playing with
metronome, you do not forget to listen and you do not accent on
every metronome beat.

- once in a while read all this list and see if all these things are still
valid and the increasing speed did not ruin them.

- often think of relaxing back, neck, shoulders, legs, arms, even

mouth (!)
- you do not go to the next phrase unless you are sure that this one
arrived to the best of your abilities.

- make a daily plan every night for the next day and a revision of
the practising you did this day.

- you need around 6-7 hours a day to do all these, including

solfege, recording, working without guitar and memory exercises.
To this number of hours you reach gradually and only if your hands
feel comfortable. Do NOT push your hands if they are tired, or (even
worse!) in pain.

- every day, maybe in the end, play through some of the pieces you
are working on and decide which need more your attention.
Schedule working on this weaker one, the next day.

- every day some exercises to warm up and improve weak aspects

of your technique.