Featured

From the Archives: Miracle Right Hand Warm Up Sequence

Here is a warm up sequence that I used to do every morning. It is useful for building right hand endurance, finger alternation, speed, pulse, rhythm, and legato. The idea behind it is simple. Set the metronome to a very slow beat, somewhere (50-70). Throughout the whole sequence, the beat remains constant but with very slight and precise increments we increase the number of notes between the beats.

I would go through all 13 steps (using free stroke) and then go through the whole thing two more times using different right hand fingerings am and ai. So, that’s 39 steps. I actually would go all the way up to fret 12 (3 cycles) and often would use a diminished 7th chord or some left hand variation to keep it interesting. Vary what you need. As you will notice, I’ve been more detailed in the first 3 steps and little by little have resorted to short hand as the basic sequence becomes evident.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

Step 1

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Step 2

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Step 3

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Step 4

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Step 5

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Step 6

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Step 7

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Step 8

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Step 9

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Step 10

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Step 11

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Step 12

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Step 13

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Phew! Go back for more. You know it’s good for you.

Featured

Problem Solving in Pernambuco’s Interrogando

I was working on Joao Pernambuco’s groovy Interrogando with an extremely young and bright student yesterday. Despite his ability to absorb new material at a pace that inspires me, he was having a difficult time making this little part sound fluid.

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After a bit of analysis, we agreed that it was due to the lack of clarity in the right hand. So, instead of playing it over and over, which is often default behavior for most students confronting a tricky passage, we decided to break it down and come up with a list of steps to once and for all solve the problem. Here are the steps.

Step 1 – Write out strings.

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Writing out the strings as numbers also helps see patterns if you process information better that way (i.e. 5232 5423 1232 ).

Step 2 – Choose the best right hand fingering options. See this post for more about choosing the best options: Conde Claros, Scales, and String-Crossing.

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We came up with two solutions. The top one was chosen by the student because his technique was more suited to it. I preferred the second solution given to my preference for aipi instead of amim.

Step 3 – Analyze where the right hand position change happens (if at all).

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Step 4 – Practice the last box from Step 3 using right hand alone with a focus on rhythm.

Step 5 – Bring left hand into the game for that box only (right hand now does it correctly and proficiently and left hand has to catch up is a much better option than both hands struggling and doing it somewhat incorrectly).

Step 6 – Check in with the right hand alone again.

Step 7 – Go back to Step 4 and Step 6 with the second to last box. Add to last box.

Step 8 – Go back to Step 4 and Step 6 with the first box. Add to both boxes.

Step 9 – Do a few minutes of focus, take a mental rest, and go back for several more sets (building mental muscle!).

Step 10 – Check tempo and set tempo goals.

Not only could the student whip through the passage after doing this, his skills at identifying any confusion improved. Lots of “Oh!” and “Now that feels easy!”.

Problem solved!

Featured

Villa-Lobos Etude Nº1 Part 1

I love getting to the point when a student is ready to tackle Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Etude Nº1. There are so many angles to explore and it takes a lot of dedication to master it. There was a time when I was preparing to perform all 12 etudes that I decided the best use of my warm up time was to spend at least 30 minutes on Etude Nº1, 30 minutes on Etude Nº2, and 30 minutes on Etude Nº3. After which my hands always seemed to work well as I worked on other material.

Over the course of months I may have played those etudes at least a thousand times in many, many different ways. I tried everything I could think of to make them better.

The first step in this great journey is to develop the right hand’s ability to play the entire arpeggio comfortably. The great Andrés Segovia suggested a solution that is still used by the majority of students and the one I used for years. However, as we develop our abilities we find that our hands have an easier time with certain movements and we find ways to use those movements to harness our strengths.

So, I always suggest putting in your time with Segovia’s solution until you can perform the Etude with that pattern. I find that the weakest part of the solution is moving from to a making the 3rd quarter note beat (half note of the measure) sound articulate which helps to delineate the rhythmic structure of the Etude, so I have come to prefer substituting with i. However, it wasn’t until working on the piece for many years that I slowly came to prefer it. Explore the possibilities in the practice room by adding in a few alternate fingerings to start the exploratory process. I’ve watched my mentor, Eliot Fisk, play it through in hundreds of ways just as an exercise to develop string crossing – I think I remember him even doing the whole arpeggio with m and pinky!

Here are some important ways to practice it. Stay tuned for Part 2 and we’ll go deeper.

right hand villa lobos fingering 1

NEWS! Complete Technique Video Course Launch!

Six String Journal just seconds ago launched the online video course Complete Technique for Classical Guitar! To celebrate the launch I’ve discounted the course for Six String Journal readers by 25% discount for the next 30 days. If you are looking for a way to up your guitar game, want a massive project for the summer (seriously, what else are you going to do?!), and want to support our site, this is for you.

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About the course:

Six String Journal’s Complete Technique for Classical Guitar Course was developed for the advancing beginner with some experience, the advancing intermediate guitarist, and will even benefit those with lots of playing experience. Though music theory isn’t necessary, a rudimentary understanding of rhythm is helpful.

The course consists of primary movement videos where I will teach the foundational movements that you’ll need in order to master classical guitar. These videos cover topics such as free-stroke, rest-stroke, arpeggios, alternation, scales, hand coordination, slurs, and shifts. These are followed by several series of secondary videos where I’ll apply the techniques and movements in various ways to help you engrain them into your own practice. Stringing the secondary videos into a sequence will teach you how to form an effective practice routine that will maximize your results and get you closer to your musical goals.

Course Includes
  • Hours of focused technique lessons with an award-winning classical guitarist, the founder of Six String Journal, and sought-after educator.
  • Over 50 extensively detailed but digestible videos demonstrating essential foundational movements, technique tips, exercises, routines, and how to implement them into your practice, carefully edited in small bite size videos for easy assimilation and viewing.
  • Printable PDF summarizing the entire course with a condensed visual of the material presented.
  • Loads of bonus content from Six String Journal’s Mastering Diatonic Scales.

 

 

The Granada School of Guitar-makers, Part 2

Guest Post by luthier John Ray

All photos by Alberto Juárez

The Granada School of Guitar-makers, Part 2

417.jpeg“If in Linares I was born into this world, it was in Granada that my eyes were opened to the beauty of life and art.” Andrés Segovia.

Architectural beauty and guitar music everywhere; centuries of history of the craft, age-old techniques and knowledge passed down in the workshops. People from all walks of life and some from different countries drawn to this most wonderful of instruments and applying their strengths to make this community better; surely these drive the Granada guitar-makers to rise above the rest and forge the stellar reputation that they have. How could we not produce Andrés Segovia, Manuel de la Chica and Antonio Marín? Where else would Antonio de Torres Jurado come to make his first guitar? What other city could Pepe Romero and Eliot Fisk possibly choose as their second residence? Where else can you find a guitar-making competition which brings young builders together to show their best work and to exchange ideas?

I arrived in Granada in 1989 hearing that it was a hotspot for guitar-making and thinking that surely I could learn here. Now in 2020 I am president of the guitar-makers association and my guitars can be found in shops in the U.S., Japan, China, South Korea, Germany, Australia and other countries. There is no doubt that Granada has been a centre for guitar-making for centuries and it still is. As for learning here, I had a long, challenging road and those who helped me get where I am hail from Granada but also from Germany, the U.S., Barcelona, Córdoba and Málaga.

Around the time I arrived the character of the Granada makers and their school of thought was crystalizing around two men and a series of events. Manuel López Bellido and Antonio Marín Montero had set up shop together in 1960 to make guitars, quite a few of which were sold under the labels of Eduardo Ferrer and Manuel de la Chica. As I wrote in Part 1, without the workshops of Ferrer and de la Chica the makers of the following generation would not have learned so quickly nor been so numerous. However, something happened under the leadership of Marín and Bellido which got players and dealers all over the world interested in the “Granada guitar”. These two men, like Eduardo Ferrer, travelled to Japan at the behest of some of their clients there and were an essential part of spreading the Granada tradition of building. Their growing skill and international projection combined with their generosity of spirit resulted in many of the guitar-makers in Granada working with them or learning from them at one time. Some of these trained with Eduardo Ferrer before or after their time with Montero y Bellido (which is what they first called themselves on the label). The death of Eduardo Ferrer signaled the end of an era and left the makers without the focal point that his workshop had become thanks to his strength of character and leadership and also left some of them without a job. For years he had brought the makers together and kept everyone on the same page. That role was filled by the formation of an association in 1987 just one year before his death and was started by 18 instrument makers. The name included the word Luthier because one of the members – José Mingorance – was a violin-maker; the preferred term is guitarrero. The other members were: Eduardo Ferrer Castillo (honorary president), Antonio Marín Montero (b. 1933), Manuel López Bellido (b. 1939), Francisco Santiago Marín (b. 1946), José López Bellido (b. 1943), José Marín Plazuelo (b. 1960), Francisco Manuel Díaz Fernández (b. 1942), Germán Pérez Barranco (b. 1940), Bernd Martin (1954-2018), Antonio Durán Zurita (1940-2006), Juan López Aguilarte (b. 1941), Rafael Moreno Rodríguez (b. 1954), Manuel Fernández Fernández (1930-?), René Baarslag (b. 1947), Antonio Raya Pardo (b. 1950), Juan Miguel Carmona Trapero (b. 1960) and Jonathan Hinves (b. 1956).

47.jpegAnother event closely related to the formation of this association is a an exhibition organized by the same group of makers. This was in 1989 and it helped to consolidate this important group. In addition to those mentioned above, the catalogue from this exhibition includes Juan Román Padilla (1928- 2018) who in an interview in 2012 assured me that he had ordered guitars for his label from the dúo Antonio Marín and Manuel Bellido. Also present was Antonio Ariza Rodríguez (1939-2006) who had spent some time with Eduardo Ferrer before striking out on his own.

Although the term Granada School in reference to the guitar-makers here was used in different publications as early as 1968, it only became accepted or popular enough to be the default description when Eusebio Rioja used it in his book “Inventario de Guitarreros Granadinos” in 1976. This book with its second and third editions in 1983 along with the articles in British guitar magazines of 1977, 1988, etc. all contributed to delimiting who exactly represented the Granada School at the time. Rioja’s first edition was published before any of the foreigners arrived and in subsequent editions he chose not to mention them. However, in the various books and articles that used his information as a reference these great makers were included as they were in the association mentioned above.

The new guitar makers association, formed in 2017 organized a homage in 2019 to this influential group of makers on the occasion of an exhibition of early Granada guitars. The reason for this homage was the explosion of quality and quantity of makers in Granada buoyed by the dedication to their craft of these founding makers and their tireless work to promote it in the world, especially in Spain and the rest of Europe. They are the ones who were responsible for the quality and the reputation even today of Granada as a centre of world-class makers. The opening of the exhibition including a short concert on a 1851 Pernas guitar and a speech by the City Councillor for Culture brought these important artisans to the public’s attention.

Robert Bouchet’s collaboration with Antonio Marín in the 1970s is another turning point for the guitar in Granada. It is unclear whether his influence was more practical or artistic but there is no doubt that Antonio (and others in Granada) build a guitar today which is inspired in some of Bouchet’s ideas and that Bouchet ‘s contacts helped promote Antonio’s guitars which in turn promoted the Granada guitar. Bouchet’s generosity and aesthetic sense (both visual and aural) are evident in the guitars and the work of Antonio and his disciples.

133.jpegAs mentioned, a few foreigners were already here making guitars but at the time of these events in the 1980s that is seems the floodgates opened and everyone realized that Granada was the place to be. Those drawn to Granada from other parts of Spain or elsewhere include Franz Butscher, Rolf Eichinger (1945-2009), John Ray, Stephen Hill, Mijail Kharash, Pavel Gavryushov, Henner Hagenlocher, Andrés Marvi, Mario Aracama, Olivier Marín, Johannes T’Kindt, Evan Kingma, Ayman Bitar and Knud Sindt. To different degrees all of these makers felt the influences of the original Granada School; some even learned directly from the founders.

Before this explosive growth in the number of makers, the craft was passed on through family ties or apprenticeships in the larger shops. This continues today although perhaps to a lesser degree. Jesús Bellido, Mauricio Bellido, Miguel Ángel Bellido, Ana Espinosa Rodríguez, Daniel Gil de Avalle, José González López, Antonio Raya Ferrer, Eduardo Durán Ferrer, Lucas Martin, Juan Antonio Correa Marín, Francisco Díaz, Victor Díaz, Javier Rosales López and Luis Santiago Hernández all have family connections to the original Granada School through which they have learned or at least been inspired to take up the chisel.

And of course Granada natives and new residents find themselves drawn to the profession of guitar-making usually through contact with the Granada makers. Juan Manuel García Fernández, Aarón García Ruiz, José Luis Vigil Piñera, Juan Labella Manjón, Francisco Muñoz Alba, Sergio Valverde Castillo, Oscar Muñoz Sánchez, Francisco Hervás Hita and Francisco Heredia are examples of this. All of these people have enriched the guitar-making community with their skills and passions. In addition to the more typical origins like carpenters, musicians and cabinet-makers we have incorporated engineers, historians, economists, metal-workers, philosophers, firemen, teachers, linguists, salesmen and weavers to this burgeoning guild.

Some have come, worked here or studied with one of the makers and then moved on elsewhere: Thomas Holt, Matteo Vaghi, Valerio Licari,  Daniele Chiesa, Philipp Neumann, Michael Ritchie, Anders Eliasson, Daniel Bernaert, Sergio Sánchez. In addition to these there are a great number of makers who have visited and been inspired by the work of the Granada school.

Another chapter on Granada might be the more active teaching outside of Granada that many of the makers have engaged in. David Gansz’ excellent contribution to the Granada guitar-makers book (see bibliography) lists makers who have spent time in Granada learning as well as Granada makers who have taught both in Granada and elsewhere.

“The influence of Granada builders has so permeated the world of guitar building – either directly via courses or seminars abroad or via visits to Granada by non-Spanish builders, or via builders studying Granada-made instruments – it is easy to conclude that Granada is in large part responsible for the fact that so many modern builders use traditional Spanish techniques.” – David Gansz

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As reported by Javier Molina Argente, the town of Baza in Granada province was home to a number of guitar-makers since the 1980s:  Vicente Checa Aro, José Checa Aro, Vicente Pérez Checa, Ramón García Durán, Antonio Ruiz, and Pedro Martínez Peñalver.

Of course one test of a group of makers or of one maker is particular is how well the guitars sell and who is playing those guitars. The fact that guitars from Granada are in shops all over the world and in the hands of the best players speaks volumes. However, the contribution to the community and the community’s recognition of the makers is also important. Over the years the efforts of the guitar-makers and the different public and private entities have brought to fruition the following incentives and publications.

The Granada School of Guitar-makers is a book published by the Granada Provincial Government in 2014 and an exhibition was celebrated on the occasion of its presentation. A short promotional video was also made. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns2uGqoJJlE&t=80s

Gloria Medina Luque organized an exhibition with the collaboration of Caja Rural Bank in 2016 which included included guitars made by historic as well as current Granada makers, concerts and conferences.

The Association meets with conservatory students every two years during the Guitar Encuentro (GNO) at the Conservatory and with the students of CSU’s Summer Arts.

In 2019 the Association of Granada Guitar-makers organized the  exhibition of historic Granada makers and the homage mentioned to the original Granada School. You can visit this exhibition through this link. https://johnguitar.com/exhibition-tour/ The name of this exhibition was “Towards a Museum of the Guitar” and is part of a lobby to establish a museum in the city which best represents guitar history and construction in all of Spain (Granada of course).

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But when a young virtuoso asks me which guitar is right for him, as long as his eye is quick and his mind is open, there’s only one answer: go to Granada, stay a week and come back with the guitar that has made you see the difference between what you were and what you are. –Angelo Gilardino

The Englishman, Jonathan Hinves, told me, “Although there are many makers here, there is a very positive relationship with an enormous amount of mutual co-operation. Of course, there is always space for personal disagreement but we do get on with each other very, very well”. –George Clinton, Guitar magazine

…but neither of these guitar-building centres, nor any other in the world, can compete with the Granada artisan workshops in terms of quality, specialization, tradition and pure excellence.  –Dr. Aarón García Ruiz

People often ask me what makes Granada so special. I tell them that Granada is the only place in the world where, instead of getting thrown out of my hotel for practicing my guitar and disturbing the other guests, the dueño of the hotel threw out the French girls who complained about my practicing. It’s a place where even the garbage man will ask me whether I play classical guitar or flamenco. Everyone in Granada is involved with the guitar in one way or another. It was no accident that from Granada a Segovia could emerge. –Lisa Hurlong

Now I think we can talk about what makes a guitar from Granada so desirable. Obviously all of this tradition and history gives the makers here resources to learn and perfect their skills. Competition between makers for clients means that each of us does the best we possibly can and make the best instrument possible. The opportunities for young makers to have their work critiqued by veteran builders are endless and this is perhaps the most important point. Advice may be given with kindly intent or scorn but it is almost always helpful. For the most part makers here value the traditional Torres style guitar and shun double tops and lattice bracing. We strive for and excel at achieving balance, beauty, dynamics and especially a broad tonal palette from which the guitarist can draw the sounds he or she requires in order to communicate through music. It is sound that we pursue, beauty and versatility. High end guitar dealers all over the world buy and sell guitars made in Granada

They really do have something special about them. My son expressed some interest recently in trying to create a new strain of plant by combining elements of other plants. His mother and I suggested he read up on Mendel and subsequent genetics work because in science you can always reach higher if you stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before. Perhaps this is the real secret to Granada’s continued success. So few builders can learn everything that has gone before whereas in Granada all that history, tradition, and techniques is just a stone’s throw away.

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This article was written with the intention of shedding light on the recent history of guitar-making in Granada and to encourage guitarists to visit this wonderful province in their search for the guitar that fits them like a glove. I hope no one feels misrepresented or left out by the content of the preceding words.


John Ray has been living in Granada since 1989 and has been making guitars for over 20 years. In addition to being well-known for building copies of Antonio de Torres and Santos Hernández guitars he was the editor of the book “The Granada School of Guitar-makers”.  https://johnguitar.com/contact/

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Sources:

Rioja, Eusebio. Inventario de Guitarreros Granadinos 1875-1983. Granada, Spain, Gráficas Monachil, 1983.

Hill, Kenny. “Visit to Legendary Granada.” http://www.hillguitar.com/website/news/articles/granada.html

Roberts, John. “The Guitar in Granada.” Guitar. February, 1977.

Clinton, George. “The Guitar Makers of Granada.” Guitar International. September, 1988.

Hurlong, Lisa. “¡Guitarra Granada Ole!” Soundboard. Summer 1990.

Clinton, George. “Bernd Martin.” Guitar International. August 1989.

Wade, Graham, “Robert Bouchet,” in The Classical Guitar: A Complete History, London, Balafon, 1997

Kasulen, Mark and Blackett, Matt. The History of Yamaha Guitars: Over Sixty Years of Innovation. Milwaukee, Hal Leonard, 2006.

“Escuela Granadina de Luthiers” (The Granada School of Luthiers), a series which ran in Guitar International magazine from September 1988 through July 1989.

Mairants, Ivor. “Granada: City of Guitars Makers, Part 2.” Classical Guitar. May/June 1984.

Huber, John. The Development of the Modern Guitar. Westport, Connecticut, Bold Strummer, 1994.

Ray, John. The Granada School of Guitar-making. Granada, Diputación Provincial de Granada, 2014 Includes articles by Angelo Gilardino, Alberto Cuellar, David Gansz, Aarón García Ruiz, Javier Molina Argente.

Promotional video for the book The Granada School of Guitar-making. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns2uGqoJJlE&t=95s

Martínez, Alberto. Orfeo Magazine No. 8 https://issuu.com/orfeomagazine/docs/orfeo_8_en

Valentí, Evaristo. “Granada guitar-makers: the first foreigners”

Featured Artist and Interview with Thomas Athanaselos

Hailing from Greece,  guitar virtuoso Thomas Athanaselos recently took some time to share his thoughts about his journey with guitar. Equally comfortable playing jazz arrangements, his own evocative compositions, and classical repertoire, Thomas’ playing is musical, fluid, and direct. I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about him here.

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When did you start playing and why? Or, what drew you to the guitar initially?
I started playing the guitar at the age of 11. My influence was a teacher in primary school who always accompanied the school choir with his guitar and he really seemed to enjoy it. Next year my parents just signed me up for a Music School. As time went by I realized my passion for the guitar and music generally.

What repertoire do you enjoy playing the most?
I have always loved playing various music styles from different music periods. The last years my repertoire includes music from the 18th-19th Century but also contemporary compositions of mine and other composers.

What guitar or guitars do you perform on? Strings?
Over the last years I’ve performed on a guitar built by Vassilis Sigletos (GR) and I use Knobloch Actives (Carbon) high tension strings.

Which guitarists/musicians have had the most influence on you?
Throughout the years I have also played the electric and acoustic guitar, so my first influences were guitarists like Steve Vai, George Benson, Robben Ford and Al Di Meola. At the age of 16 when I focused on the classical guitar, guitarists and musicians from 18th to 21th century like J. S. Bach, Augustin Barrios Mangore, Fernardo Sor, Isaac Albeniz, Joaquin Rodrigo and the great Paco de Lucia had a big impact on me. Of course, I can’t dismiss Astor Piazzolla’s music.

If you have recordings, which recording/s are you most proud of?
I recorded my first album ‘In Memoriam’ in 2018, which received very good reviews so I could say for sure that this is the recording I am proud of. Recordings are always hard to satisfy you 100% so I hope the next one will be even better.

What are some up and coming projects (recordings, concerts) you are excited about?
Right now due to the situation Covid-19 caused, we are facing a different routine and lifestyle which is something new for everyone. That makes it difficult to arrange concerts so I am focusing on composing and studying new repertoire.

How much do you practice? And, do you structure your practice in any particular way?
I am always careful to keep my mind and my fingers in a good condition. When I have arranged concerts I practice every day 2-3 hours.

Do you deliberately memorize music or have a technique that helps assimilate music into memory?
I don’t have any specific way to memorize music. Sometimes the harmony and the melodic line of the piece makes it easier to memorize it. In any case I try to be careful and concentrated when I first study a piece. Many repeats and slow playing also helps me to find the details and deeply understand the score.

Have you published any editions or do you plan to publish your own editions in the future?
Yes, I have published four compositions of mine through Bergmann Editions.
You can find the scores here: Bergmann Editions.publications.jpg

Do you have any pre-concert rituals?
For sure, I always try to take some time to relax on my own and not to get in touch with many people. This helps me to stay calm and concentrated on my program. I like to play some scale exercises or some slow tempo parts of the pieces. To me  these are the essentials. The ideal preparing for me is maximum 45 minutes before the concert.

What single most important piece of advice about practicing would you offer to younger players?
I think young players should first start training their brains. They should try to create their own personality in music generally and this will lead them to new paths of playing.

Do you try to stay healthy? Exercise? Follow a particular diet? Have a favorite pre-concert food?
As our ancestors used to say ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’. So I always try to exercise because it also affects positively my mood and my playing and I have healthy lifestyle in general. I don’t have a specific pre-concert food. A good meal for sure and maybe a bar of chocolate just before the concert!

What is your favorite way to spend time when not practicing?
Running, cycling, watching movies, listening to music, and spending some time walking around with my dog!!

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Mateusz Kowalski plays Barrios and Giuliani

Thought I would share some of Guitar Salon International‘s beautifully produced videos of the young Polish virtuoso, Mateusz Kowalski. In the first video, Mateusz plays one of Agustín Barrios Mangoré’s less played tremolo pieces, Contemplación, with both a magical touch and an enviable ease of execution. In the second, he rips through the finale of Mauro Giuliani’s Rossiniana Nº1, Op. 119 with true operatic fanfare. Mateusz playing is hypnotizing on many levels. Musical and meticulous, it is no surprise that he is starting to receive recognition from various competitions across Europe. Enjoy!

The Granada School of Guitar-makers, Part 1

Guest Post by acclaimed Granada-based luthier John Ray. Enjoy!

The Granada School of Guitar-makers, Part 1

by John Ray

Ferrer 1900

Why does Granada always come up when we speak of fine artisan guitars? Why have so many makers from all over the world made pilgrimages to the workshops of the Granada guitar-makers to pay their respects and to find out what we do differently here? Well known U.S., German, British, Canadian, Danish, Mexican and Belgian makers have spent time here and that doesn’t include those who learned from or were influenced by Granada makers and then went on to become great makers in their own right. There are a number of factors which contribute to this reputation for excellence and the sheer numbers of guitar-makers. The only place in the world with more guitar-makers per capita is Paracho in Mexico. Let’s go back hundreds of years and see what we can find.

Although surely there were instrument makers in Granada well before the 16th century it is only from that time that we have records and names. Alonso de Buitrago, Alonso Vega, Juan de Alcaraz and Diego de Atienza are just a few names that have been preserved. Granada may or may not have been an important centre for instrument-making back then but we do know that Rafael Vallejo built a very special guitar-psaltery for King Carlos I in 1792. Furthermore, the best-known violin-maker Spain has ever produced, José Contreras, hailed from Granada. Surely that indicates a certain level of makers from the province of Granada.  We do know from surviving instruments and their characteristics that Sevilla and Cadíz were more important centres of guitar-building and of innovation than Granada during the 18th century. It is in the 19th century that Granada comes into its own and takes over as a centre of innovation and spreads its knowledge to the rest of the country through the emigration of guitar-makers and the apprenticeship of guitar-makers from other provinces. In the opinion of Richard Bruné this rise in number and expertise has everything to do with a larger gypsy population and a correspondingly higher number of guitar-players and musical cafés in the city making higher demands on the builders.

Ortega 1880

Perhaps the most important maker from 19th century Granada is Agustín Caro due to the various innovations which he is responsible for. In a single guitar from 1803 we can see two landmark changes to the guitar for the first time. This guitar has its fretboard glued on top of the soundboard whereas all preceding guitars showed a fretboard flush with the soundboard in the style of the lute. Observation of later guitars shows us that this change became consolidated over the following decades throughout the world. The other change which seems to originate with this guitar is the elimination of the double strings; this guitar was made for six single strings. Again a change which, over time, pervaded almost all guitar construction. On a later guitar by Caro, 1824, we can see the first ever example of a modern bridge with an adjustable saddle and which, like the other two innovations, became the norm. Of course these attributions to Caro will only be valid until such time as an earlier guitar by some other maker might appear showing these same characteristics.

In spite of Agustín Caro’s obvious importance the Granada maker José Pernas, also from the 19th century, might well be better known due to his association with Antonio de Torres from Almeria.  Antonio de Torres, known to all as the father of the spanish guitar, learned his craft without a doubt in Granada as reported by José Luis Romanillos through the words of Juan Manuel Sirvent “he went to Granada where he made his first guitar”. Furthermore, the writings of Domingo Prat and Emilio Pujol report that Torres learned the art of guitar-making from Pernas. If this were not enough we can go on to show that many of the innovations credited to Torres were also used by Pernas and it seems very unlikely that the student would have taught the master. In fact, a 1851 guitar by Pernas has been shown to have uncanny similarities to a Torres guitar from 1856. In his doctoral thesis Aarón García Ruiz details these common points to the extent that it is difficult to imagine that Torres’ ideas were not heavily influenced by the work of Pernas. Going back to Domingo Prat, one of  the most commonly referenced works in guitar history, he tells us that it was Pernas, not Torres who invented the tornavoz although Torres is popularily credited with it. Neither myself nor Aarón García seek to discredit Torres but rather to show that although he was a genius and incorporated many great advances in guitar-making, he did learn from those around him specifically José Pernas. Another innovation attributed to Pernas is the pear-shaped guitar as well as the wooden “hook” designed to hold the guitar on the thigh. Torres also made at least one pear-shaped guitar.

The model for a workshop today is usually a one-person affair in which the maker controls every aspect of construction and every step in the process. The presence of a possible apprentice is infrequent and in any case makes for little change in the process. Another possible model is a shop where two or three makers work together, usually family members. The latter is less and less common as time goes on but still exists. In the latter part of the 19th century this was more common and workshops were bigger with an owner-foreman who was usually the one who was ultimately responsible and whose name was on the instruments – the master. We find many surviving guitars today from the mid-19th century workshop of Juan Ortega Castellón who worked with his sons and others. His son José Ortega Ruiz was the main influence when Benito Ferrer wanted to become a builder. At approximately the same time another Ortega – Francisco Ortega Ayala – was also working in Granada. He too had sons who continued the family tradition. One of these, Rafael Ortega Ávila, moved to Madrid around 1886 and employed a young Santos Hernández before the latter moved on to serve as foreman in the workshop of Manuel Ramírez. Just one more example of how Granada shaped guitar-making in Spain as this might explain why Santos guitars were lighter and livelier than those of other Madrid makers.

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A number of other makers worked in Granada and the province at this time but their influence on today’s Granada school has not been demonstrated except in general terms. Their brief biographies can be found in Eusebio Rioja’s Inventario de guitarreros granadinos. José López, Agustin del Valle, Francisco López Gascón, Antonio Llorente, Antonio del Valle, Nicolás del Valle. Bernardo Milán Suárez,

One of the most historically important of these large workshops was that of Benito Ferrer because of the dynasty that it spawned. Ferrer was a medical student from Orihuela, Alicante who gave up his studies to find work to support his extended family. Among other things he played the spanish bandurria (like a twelve-string mandolin) with the gypsy musicians. His place in history is guaranteed because in an effort to get more sound out of the instrument he substituted the gut strings for piano wire. Of course this caused his bandurria to collapse under the string tension in short order but with knowledge gleaned from José Ortega Ruiz he was able to modify and reinforce it and make it work with the new strings. This meant that other musicians came to him wanting instruments that produced as much volume as his. He took on members of the Ortega workshop and began making guitars and the different instruments in the bandurria family. Benito Ferrer is famously responsible for the first guitar played in concert by Andrés Segovia. His is the only large workshop that survived into time of the Spanish Civil War although by this time nephew and disciple Eduardo Ferrer had inherited the workshop.

Caro 1810.jpgEduardo Ferrer, much like José Ramírez in Madrid, is responsible for training a large number of guitar-makers and then slowly seeing them set up shop around the city. In some cases he was supportive to the extent that he contributed financially to the new establishments. Although it was not called The Granada School of guitar-making until later there can be little doubt that he is responsible for the situation that allowed Granada to become such a hotbed for building and selling guitars by leading and training such a large community of makers. He also sold a large number of guitars made by makers who worked both within his workshop(s) and independently. Granada’s influence on the rest of the world continued with Eduardo Ferrer. In 1966, Yamaha contracted him to teach the traditional method of guitar-making and had him traveling to Japan that year as well as the two following years. After this period Yamaha sent one of its workers to Granada to continue to learn from Eduardo. Although I will argue in part two that the influence of the Granada School comes into its own under the tutelage of Antonio Marín and Manuel Bellido there is no doubt that without Eduardo Ferrer and his disciples things would have been very different. For this reason other scholars attribute the formation of the Granada School exclusively to Eduardo Ferrer.

During the “reign” of Eduardo Ferrer the other giant of Granada was the guitar and violin-maker Manuel de la Chica. De la Chica apparently spent some time with a worker from the Benito Ferrer workshop and then went on to meticulously study the guitars of SantPernas 1851.jpgos Hernández and to base his work on those to the point of making perfect copies. Two of today’s Granada makers trained with Manuel de la Chica and a few others built guitars to sell to him. Manuel de la Chica had a reputation for very careful work and a level of technical skill that we don’t find in Granada prior to his time. His guitars were very sought after in the new world at the time. A few other guitar-makers in Ferrer’s time include Isidro Garrido, Miguel Robles, Miguel López Muñoz, Manuel Martínez de Milán, Alfonso Checa Plaza, Antonio Rodríguez Orozco, and Francisco Fernández Ruiz. 

The scene is now set for the next generation: Spain’s young democracy is thriving, the country is opening up to the outside world and young cabinet-makers are gravitating towards guitar-making through their interest in flamenco and popular guitar music. Perhaps most importantly the nature of the Granada guitar; that light, responsive and unsophisticated instrument is being discovered by musicians and dealers all over the world.

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John Ray has been living in Granada since 1989 and has been making guitars for over 20 years. In addition to being well-known for building copies of Antonio de Torres and Santos Hernández guitars he was the editor of the book “The Granada School of Guitar-makers”. https://johnguitar.com/contact/



Bibliography and further reading

  1. Cano Tamayo, Manuel. Un Siglo de la Guitarra Granadina. Granada, Obra Cultural de la Caja de Ahorros de Granada, 1975;
  2. Rioja, Eusebio. Inventario de Guitarreros Granadinos 1875-1983. Granada, Spain, Gráficas Monachil, 1983;
  3. Romanillos Vega, José L. and Marian Harris Winspear. The Vihuela de Mano and the Spanish Guitar. Guijosa, Spain, The Sanguino Press, 2002.
  4. Prat, Domingo. Diccionario de Guitarristas. Buenos Aires, Romero y Fernández, 1934.
  5. Pujol, Emilio. Tárrega: Ansayo Biográfico. Lisbon, Ramos, Afonso & Moita, 1960.
  6. Romanillos, José L. Antonio de Torres, Guitar Maker: His Life and Work. Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset, Element Books, 1987.
  7. Segovia, Andrés. Andrés Segovia: An Autobiography of the Years 1893-1920. New York, Macmillan, 1976.
  8. Bruné, R. E.: “Santos Hernández Speaks”, Vintage Guitar Magazine, mayo 2007
  9. Ray, John (ed.): The Granada School of Guitar-makers, Granada: Diputación Provincial de Granada, 2014,
  10. Garcia Ruiz Aarón: La Escuela granadina antigua de construcción de guitarras: Propuesta de un protocolo para el estudio de cordófonos, University of Granada. Doctoral theses 2017
  11. Grondona, Stefano, Luca Waldner, and Massimo Mandell. La Chitarra di Liutera: Masterpieces of Guitar Making. Sondrio, L’officina del Libro, 2002.
  12. Bruné, R. E. “Cultural Origins of the Modern Guitar.” Soundboard. Fall 1997.
  13. La Guitarra Española – The Spanish Guitar, The Metropolitan Museum of New York & Museo Municipal de Madrid, 1991-1992. Madrid, Opera Tres, 1993.

 

 

Maya Kazarina playing Barrios and Koshkin

I stumbled upon this video of Maya Kazarina, a tremendously gifted young guitarist, filmed during the final of a competition she obviously won! Here she plays Agustín Barrios Mangoré’s well known tremolo piece Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios with sublime tremolo and Nikita Koshkin’s Usher Waltz with the brilliance and ease of someone well beyond her years. Enjoy!

Artist Spotlight and Interview: Katarzyna Smolarek

The brilliant Polish concert guitarist, Katarzyna Smolarek is becoming known for both her breathtaking virtuosity and her magnificent interpretations. In addition to studying at the Mozarteum in Austria and concertizing throughout Europe, Katarzyna has been awarded over 20 international competition prizes over a very short period of time. The silver lining to sheltering in place in Europe is that she was able to find time to sit down and share her experience, philosophies, and wise advise with Six String Journal readers. Enjoy!

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Personal

When did you start playing and why? Or, what drew you to the guitar initially?

I started playing the guitar when I was 8 years old. My parents just signed me up for a music school and I think at the time no one was expecting that I would become a professional musician in the future. With time, I developed a love for playing music and I decided to dedicate my life to it.

What repertoire do you enjoy playing the most?

I enjoy playing all kinds of repertoire from baroque to contemporary music. I think every style has its own proper charm, and I always seek to discover the beauty in each new piece that I learn.

What guitar or guitars do you perform on? strings?

At the moment I perform on a guitar built by Jacek Łozak from 2010. My favourite strings are Savarez Alliance Premium medium tension. Since last year I’m proud to be a part of the Savarez artists family.

Which guitarists have had the most influence on you?

Definitely all of my teachers. Lidia Przyłęcka, Ryszard Bałauszko and Marco Tamayo – they have had a huge influence on my progress, for which I will always be grateful. I consider all of them amazing musicians, dedicated teachers and wonderful people. I was extremely lucky to have them along the way.

What recordings are you most proud of?

I actually haven’t done a lot of recordings in my life (but I’m working on it!). I’m certainly most proud of my recent videos made in Siccas Guitars. They are my most professionally done recordings so far.

What are some up and coming projects (recordings, concerts) you are excited about?

Unfortunately, because of the epidemic of coronavirus a lot of my events have been cancelled. If everything is back to normal soon, I will be able to go to Portugal in June to perform a concert with an orchestra as a part of the International Guitar Festival in Amarante. I am sure I will enjoy it a lot after having such a long break from traveling.

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Technique and Performance

How much do you practice? And, do you structure your practice in any particular way?

The duration of my practice varies depending on many factors. I usually practice around four hours per day, but this amount increases before concerts or competitions (or now, because of the quarantine). On the other hand I practice less when I spend time with my family or when traveling. I’m also no stranger to taking days off to relax and reset. I don’t think I structure my routine in some special way.

Usually after I have finished practicing in the evening, I make a plan for the next day so that my practice sessions are balanced and I don’t neglect anything. When I have a whole day for myself I like to break it out into two sessions: morning and afternoon, 2-3 hours each, with a break for lunch and some other activity.

Are there aspects of guitar that you struggle with or that you find you are still working on?

I think there is always room for progress, so in that sense I can say I’m working on every aspect of the guitar performance. I don’t imagine that I will ever have a feeling that there is nothing else to work on and I think it’s a good thing. The constant pursuit of artistic excellence is what brings innovation and life to art.

Do you deliberately memorize music or have a technique that helps assimilate music into memory?

It depends on the piece and the situation. I usually try to learn a piece by memory as soon as possible, so that I can entirely focus on the music. Sometimes the music demands deliberate memorization, and other times the memorization comes naturally after just a few days of playing it. Nevertheless, every now and then I would revise the score, because with time some details might slip away. I also make sure that it’s not only my fingers that remember the piece, but also my brain, in other words that I remember the notes and not only the movements. In order to do that, I play it extremely slowly focusing on every note, or I go through the piece in my mind without touching the guitar at all.

Do you have a favorite drill you use to warm up?

I like to play through a couple of slur and scale exercises before I start practicing pieces. However, I’m not a fan of spending a lot of time warming-up, as for me the ultimate goal is to be ready to perform without having to go through a series of technique exercises. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations when we do not have the possibility to warm up before a concert, and I believe the quality of our performance should not be compromised in those situations.

Do you have any pre-concert rituals?

Not at all. Obviously, it’s important to have a good rest and a good meal, but I wouldn’t call it a ritual. Again, I feel like it’s dangerous to have specific pre-concert routines. In situations when we are not able to perform the routines, we might then lose our confidence on stage as a result.

Advice to Younger Players

What single most important piece of advice about practicing would you offer to younger players?

Solve the problems instead of getting discouraged! I get the impression that a lot of young players don’t really know how to practice. They think that repetition is key and when a passage still doesn’t work after having played it 100 times they start thinking things like, “this piece is too difficult”, “I’m not good enough”, or “I need months/years to play it well”. There is nothing worse than having this sort of approach. Practicing should be all about constructive problem-solving. If something doesn’t work we should be able to exactly tell why and the more precise our answer, the better. We should be extremely conscious of our movements and of our choices. This way we can make progress way faster than by mindlessly repeating.

What repertoire do you consider essential for young/conservatory students to assimilate?

I wouldn’t say that there are any specific pieces that one really must play during his education, although I think that it is essential for a student to be familiar with the concepts of all the historical styles. The more repertoire we already know, the more tools we have for our next interpretations. I would also say that it is important to play the standard guitar repertoire; such as Villa-Lobos’ studies, suites by Bach, sonatas by Ponce, pieces by Barrios, Tárrega, Rodrigo, Turina and so on and so on. Nowadays we tend to look for unknown pieces, we make our own transcriptions and we commission new music. I find it wonderful, however as students we need to familiarize ourselves with traditional repertoire first. This will properly facilitate our lives as performers and teachers.

Recordings that every young guitarist should be familiar with and why?

I think all recordings, no matter good or bad, have their value. Exactly what we listen to is not so important; the crucial part is that we are able to develop an informed opinion and discern what is of high quality and what’s not. What I find extremely useful is listening to a lot of recordings of the same piece and focusing on the differences between them. This helps me understand many possible ways of thinking about the same piece of music.

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Tangent

What is the last book that you read? Favorite author/s?

The last one would be Fahrenheit 451. I love Márquez, Llosa and Murakami for their out-of-this world storytelling.

What is your favorite way to spend time when not practicing?

I really like learning new languages. Currently I’m working on my Portuguese. Apart from that I enjoy cooking, reading, dancing salsa and just recently I got terribly hooked on the series “Breaking Bad”.

Davin-Levin Duo Playing Ravel and Glass

Music for 50+ strings? Virtuosos Colin Davin and Emily Levin, known together as the Davin-Levin harp and guitar duo, are about to release a new recording exploring repertoire and arrangements spanning at least that many strings. The recording will feature music by de Falla, Ravel, Glass, Stackpole, and Mattingly and is available for pre-order. Here are two absolutely beautiful videos of what to expect.

Ravel: Les Entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête, from Ma Mère l’Oye

Philip Glass: Etude no. 6

If you missed Six String Journal’s interview with Colin check it out here: Colin Davin Interview.

Review of An Tran’s Upcoming CD – Stay, My Beloved

Having just had An Tran, a young Vietnamese guitarist with exceptional talent, featured on Six String Journal, I thought it would be wonderful to segue with a short review of his upcoming recording of Vietnamese music written and arranged for classical guitar, Stay, My Beloved.

image-asset.jpgThere is perhaps no better way to experience a culture than to listen to its folk music. It evokes myth, stories, history, and landscape. An Tran’s magical playing does all of this from the first track of his recording. In The Legend of the Bamboo Child (Thanh Giong), An sets up his listener for an exceptional journey through Vietnam. This first arrangement by The-An Nguyen, both ambitious in scope and creativity, is a six movement piece dense with canonic motifs, a wide ranging palette of guitar effects, and strumming reminiscent of old stringed Vietnamese instruments, all woven together by solid and clear playing. And when the journey through the first track ends, a new one begins with the premiere recording of composer The-An Nguyen’s Lullaby, which was also written for An. And again, the landscape and fragrance of Vietnam are alive through ethereal harmonics, a poignant and expansive theme, and melancholically rich arpeggiations.

It is evident that An’s gifts go beyond just playing the guitar. Though it is easy to become seduced by the rich tone An extracts from his guitar or his obvious technical gifts, his talent as an interpreter is just as strong. His presentation of folk music through the classical guitar comes across naturally and as effortlessly as his facility on the instrument.

The recording proceeds through five more tracks, all equally captivating. During the last track Stay, My Beloved I realized that I had been transported for almost an hour to Vietnam and that, sadly,  the welcomed journey was coming to an end. As the scenes unfolded so masterfully and beautifully throughout the listening experience I was grateful to be reminded, especially now, that there are still ways to travel to distant and beautiful places.

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Stay, My Beloved is an album featuring all Vietnamese guitar music, distributed by Sony/The Orchard, available everywhere on April 18, 2020. Pre-Order available now.

 

Artist Profile and Interview: An Tran

An Tran

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It is always wonderful to stumble upon a great young artist who seems to be doing everything right. An Tran has been praised for his incredible technique and magical playing enough to have won prizes in many international guitar and music competitions throughout the world. An has recently given recitals for the Bangkok Guitar Society, Austin Classical Guitar, Toronto International Guitar Series. This season 2019-20 will include An’s solo concert at the prestigious Segovia Classical Guitar Series in Chicago, USA in May 2020.

An is also a champion of Vietnamese music and has performed pieces written for him by Vietnamese composers on the international stage. He recently premiered the work, Ru Con (Lullaby), written for An by composer/guitarist Nguyễn Thế An in Toronto in March 2019. And his debut CD of an all-Vietnamese repertoire is to be released in early 2020. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, An took some time from his busy schedule to share some of his experience and journey with Six String Journal. Enjoy!

Personal

SSJ: When did you start playing and why? Or, what drew you to the guitar initially? 

AT: I was really lucky to have my parents that helped me find my passion. When I was a kid, I was not good at school…so I think my parents saw that and let me try a lot of different things (from drawing to piano to playing tennis!). Our house was always filled with music, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I went to sleep listening to music. Until one day, my cousin started to play the guitar. I thought to myself, at 8 years old, “I need to try that out!”. It was one of the greatest decisions in my life.

What repertoire do you enjoy playing the most? 

It’s hard to say because I enjoy playing all kinds of music, but I definitely love to play Vietnamese music. The more I grow as an artist, the more I feel the connection to my home country, Vietnam. Now I always include Vietnamese music in my concert program. They can be either arrangements of Vietnamese traditional folk songs, or original compositions from Vietnamese composers. I get to share a little bit of who I am with the audience, everywhere I go.

What guitar or guitars do you perform on? Strings?

I perform on Stephen Connor guitars. I currently have 2 of his guitars and they are extremely amazing instruments. Steve made my guitars with so much care and love that it is a joy to play every single time. His uplifting spirit is also contagious and inspiring as well.

For strings, I use D’Addario Carbon, Normal Tension. They sound beautiful on my Connors, and they hold intonation really well. Since I tour with only one guitar most of the time, due to my program with Vietnamese music, I have to change to alternate tuning between pieces. They have never failed.

 Which guitarists/musicians have had the most influence on you?

I would say all of my teachers made a huge impact on me as a musician and as a human being. I have too many teachers to list them, but if they are reading this, they know who they are 🙂 I can also say that I learned so much from my guitarist friends as well. When I did a few competitions, I learned so much just by listening to my fellow competitors.

My classical guitar heroes are John Williams and David Russell. When I was a kid, I listened to their recordings on repeat almost every day. I also love Nguyen Le, a Vietnamese/French jazz guitarist. He has an amazing ability of blending traditional Vietnamese music with contemporary Jazz. I highly recommend checking him out, if you haven’t heard him yet.

What recording/s are you most proud of?

I’m very proud of my upcoming album “Stay, My Beloved”, which features all Vietnamese guitar music. This recording is like my life journey. Some pieces I learned when I was a kid, and some I learned not too long ago. It was a lot of work, but the music on this album stay very close to my heart, that’s why the whole process was so satisfying. It will be released on April 18, 2020.

What are some up and coming projects (recordings, concerts) you are excited about?

I’m excited about the upcoming concerts in the US as well as my European tour in August. This will be my first time playing in Europe, so I am very excited. On top of that, I will premiere 2 works that were dedicated to me by Spanish composer Juan Erena in Cádiz, Spain. I’m also working with a few Vietnamese composers to write more works for the ever-evolving guitar repertoire. Even though my debut album is not even out yet, I’m already thinking about recording the next Vietnamese guitar album.


Technique and Performance

How much do you practice? And, do you structure your practice in any particular way?

I always aim to practice for about 4 to 6 hours a day. For me, it is important to practice every day well. I normally divide my practice to 2-3 different shorter sessions. I always try to prioritize practicing first, before doing anything else during the day.

Also, there are apps that could help with your practice schedule. I use this app called “ATracker” on my iPhone. I use its timer to keep track of every piece that I’m working on. This way, I can make sure that I don’t spend too much (or too little) time on 1 piece. By the end of the week, it would give me a graph of how much I practiced each piece. That gives me an idea of what to work on for the following week. I also normally take 1 day off of guitar. I find it helpful to get back to my practice freshly the day after.

Are there aspects of guitar that you struggle with or that you find you are still working on?

I’m constantly working to improve my listening and musicality skills. For me, playing something musically well is very important and I try to improve on that. I also don’t have the perfect technique, so I do struggle with really hard passages sometimes. However, it is easier to improve on the technical side nowadays because there are so many good resources online and good teachers out there. For me, the metronome is crucial for learning new music and master the hard passages. I also use Tonebase, an online resource for guitarists, whenever I find myself struggling with something (either musically or technically). Nothing will replace a good teacher, but there’s always some good info online to support what you’re learning.

By the way, I am NOT “sponsored” by any apps/websites mentioned above, those are just apps that I personally use.

 

Do you have a favorite drill you use to warm up? 

Yes! Villa-Lobos’ Etude No. 1 is always a go-to for me as a warmup before a concert. I also use some of Scott Tennant’s exercises from his Pumping Nylon book. So helpful!

Do you have any pre-concert rituals?

I eat a banana before I play. I find it helpful to get some energy before a concert. I also do some meditation and make sure that I feel grateful for every single opportunity. For people to take their time out of their schedules to come see me perform, that is absolutely incredible! Definitely something to be grateful for!!

 


Advice to Younger Players

What single most important piece of advice about practicing would you offer to younger players?

One of the most important skills that I learned (and still trying to do) is to keep my focus at 100% while practicing. When I was younger, I practiced like a machine. Mindlessly ran my pieces as many times as possible. All I’m doing now is trying to fix all the problems that came from that!! It can create huge problems and bad habits to fix later. Thankfully, I’ve had amazing teachers who patiently sat with me to tell me what I’ve been doing wrong.

What repertoire do you consider essential for young/conservatory students to assimilate? Why?

I think the most essential skill for a young musician is to cover all periods of classical music. To be able to teach and find your own “voice” in your playing, it’s important to go through all the essential “classical” guitar repertoire. I also think etudes are super important as well. For me, personally, I loved (and still play) the Giuliani, Villa-Lobos and Brouwer Etudes.


Tangent

What is the last movie that you watched?

Parasite, that was crazy!

Do you try to stay healthy? Exercise? Follow a particular diet? Have a favorite pre-concert food? 

Yes absolutely. I’ve been doing yoga lately and it really helps. I’ve had lower back pain in the past, so now I try to do yoga more regularly. Nothing fancy, just iPhone apps and Youtube videos. Also, my chiropractor told me that it is important to get up more often to stretch, and to not sit and practice for hours straight (which was my bad habit). I might have to give him commission for this piece of advice!!!

What is your favorite way to spend time when not practicing?

I love to cook. I think cooking is so similar to playing music. Other hobbies are watching movies with my wife, playing FIFA or board games with my family and friends, playing with my puppy Luna. My dad is a former photojournalist, so he taught me a lot about photography. I am now addicted to photography and I enjoy taking pictures of my travels.

Support An by pre-ordering his new CD: Stay, My Beloved