Artist Spotlight and Interview with Julia Lange

Young German crossover guitar star, Julia Lange appears equally at ease playing classical, steel string, and funk. Versatile is perhaps an understatement. As a D’Addario sponsored artist, Julia has been seen on stages across Europe and China playing her wonderful arrangements, with her funk band, with other great musicians, and performing standard classical repertoire. With an enviable command of the guitar and guitar styles, her virtuosic technique comes across in a wonderfully relaxed and musical manner. Fortunately, Julia had some time to share a bit about her guitar journey with Six String Journal. Enjoy!

When did you start playing and why? Or, what drew you to the guitar initially? 
I started playing guitar when I was 8 years old. My older brother used to take guitar lessons and he wanted to quit at that time so it was my chance to get his guitar. He gave me the very first lessons but in return I had to give him all my pocket money… soon we started fighting and I went to a proper guitar teacher.

What repertoire do you enjoy playing the most? 
I enjoy playing all kinds of music from classical guitar to Fingerstyle and electric guitar with my band mates. 

What guitar or guitars do you perform on? Strings?
I perform with my “Jakob Lebisch” classical guitar and my “Battiston” Steelstring guitar. I use D’Addario strings.

Which guitarists/musicians have had the most influence on you? There were many guitarists that influenced me but the ones who also changed my life in a certain aspect were for example Tatyana Ryzhkova, because her wonderful YouTube channel inspired me to start my own YouTube channel that opened so many doors for me. Tommy Emmanuel and Andy McKee were the first artists that inspired me to do my own thing, to make my own arrangements and start a new chapter. Later on I started composing and arranging for classical guitar as well. Last year was again a changing point when I discovered the Funk band Vulfpeck and I totally fell in love with Cory Wong’s awesome rhythm guitar playing and that made me pick up my electric guitar and start a Funk band with friends. 

If you have recordings, which recording/s are you most proud of? If not, are you planning to record a cd? Right now I just have my YouTube videos but I hope to publish an album soon. But I’m right now working on my Funk band’s first EP that we’ll publish probably at the end of the year.

What are some up and coming projects (recordings, concerts) you are excited about? Since the beginning of Covid there are many cancelled concerts and hardly any new concert requests, I hope to be on stage soon again and perform the concerts I was supposed to have in China this year or my prize winners concert for the “Lichtenberger Musikpreis” at Schloss Lichtenberg. The online living-room concert I made for the German TV channel ZDF & ARTE was one of the highlights of the lockdown time.

Technique and Performance

How much do you practice? And, do you structure your practice in any particular way? I almost always start with some warming up exercises before I play but I can’t say exactly how much I “practice” per day because it makes a big difference for me whether I arrange something new, improvise or really practice and prepare for concerts but I spend pretty much all my free time with my guitar. 

Are there aspects of guitar that you struggle with or that you find you are still working on?
I think I still find myself working and will always find myself working on all kinds of things. No matter how good you are, no matter how much you work there is no end. It could simply always be better. Which might sound terrifying but it’s awesome, because it never gets boring. Where I’d like to put more focus on the next years is improvising and composing music. And of course on electric guitar I still feel like a beginner, it’s a long way to go. 

Do you deliberately memorize music or have a technique that helps assimilate music into memory?
I enjoy using the technique of “mental practice” to memorize things better and I think that analysing the piece is a big help for a solid memory.

Do you have a favorite drill you use to warm up?  I have some warming-up exercises that I really love and I’m sharing little tutorials about them on my Patreon page, feel free to check it out: https://www.patreon.com/julialange

Do you have any pre-concert rituals?
Not really.

Do you do anything to your nails or shape them in a particular way?
As my nails have to survive not only classical guitar nylon strings but also steel strings, I use a gel layer that I harden with a UV-light lamp. Just the way the ladies are doing it in those fancy nail studios but I make the layer rather thin.

Advice to Younger Players


What single most important piece of advice about practicing would you offer to younger players?Set yourself specific goals. For example take part in competitions, get concerts, make videos and work towards a specific aim that motivates you! I found for myself that this is the only way to really get yourself out of your comfort-zone and improve.

What repertoire do you consider essential for young/conservatory students to assimilate? Why? I think the most important repertoire is the repertoire and the pieces that you really want to play from the bottom of your heart and not the repertoire that someone else tells you to play. What I’d love to see more in conservatories are teachers encouraging their students to write their own tunes based on what they’ve learned for example from the classical pieces they play. Exploring the endless possibilities of making music and the freedom we have in expressing ourselves.

Tangent

What is the last book that you read? Favorite author/s?
“Getting things done” by David Allen is a book that I really highly recommend to all kinds of independently working artists and people.

Do you try to stay healthy? Exercise? Follow a particular diet? Have a favorite pre-concert food? 
I do some sports, sometimes, could be more if I’m honest but I think I eat quite healthy although my cake consumption is pretty high. I don’t follow any diet and my favorite pre-concert food is bananas.

What is your favorite way to spend time when not practicing?
I love being outside in nature and spending time with family and friends.

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More about Julia:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg2K_7mrkygu0xmCQ6v9Chg

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/julia.lange.guitar/

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/julialange

Lessonface: https://www.lessonface.com/instructor/julia-lange

Anabel Montesinos playing Giuliani’s Grand Overture

Brilliant Spanish guitarist, Anabel Montesinos, performs a dazzling interpretation of Mauro Giuliani’s Grand Overture, Op. 61. All the operatic excitement, virtuosity, and fanfare required for this piece permeate her interpretation from the roll of the very first chord. The excitement builds from there. Anabel’s command of the guitar is exceptional on so many levels and this performance captures the dynamic quality of her playing. Hope this inspires everyone!

Yuri Liberzon – New recording of Bach’s Violin Sonatas

Internationally acclaimed guitar virtuoso Yuri Liberzon is poised to release his third and most ambitious recording yet – Johann Sebastian Bach’s 3 Violin Sonatas (BWV 1001, 1003, 1005).

Johann Sebastian Bach’s solo violin works are familiar to most classical guitarist as transcriptions. In this instance, Yuri has chosen to record Manuel Barrueco’s transcriptions of the sonatas. These works pose countless complex challenges both interpretively and technically for the artist brave enough to tackle them. The slow movements require extremely refined technique to ornament and distill the beauty of the implied lines, the fugues demand the utmost skill in maintaining the subjects, countersubjects, and counterpoint, and the allegros and prestos push the interpreter to technical limits. All this while communicating Johann Sebastian Bach’s singular and perfect command of form, harmony, and lyricism.

Yuri meets every one of the demands with elegance and finesse, two aspects I admire in his playing. From the opening lushness of the first track, the adagio from the G Minor Sonata, Yuri sets the stage for the entire recording by slowly and calculatedly pulling the listener into a world rich with introspection and beauty. The strengths of this release are many but what perhaps stands out as a theme is how grounded Yuri’s playing is while moving you with a subtle forward momentum. For instance, the allegro from the A Minor Sonata was not taken at a blistering pace but somehow managed to convey a strong, steady energy, much like a tidal wave and the inevitability of its arrival. Another highlight was the monumental Fuga from the C Major Sonata. Again, it is Yuri’s calming but steady sense of structure that moves this movement forward and manages to bring out the overall arc of the piece. The counterpoint is crystalline and phrased beautifully. This does not happen unless it is intentional and that is what is fascinating about Yuri’s playing. It’s like magic – the sum is far greater than the parts. To achieve the effect of such a long line requires an architecturally gifted mind.

I’ve always enjoyed Yuri’s playing. It is similar to Manuel Barrueco’s for all of the perfection but Yuri’s caring and elegant sensibilities, and understated virtuosity, mark his interpretations as none other than his very own.

Overall, this ambitious project is wonderfully produced by both Yuri and Grammy Award-winning producer Nahuel Bronzini. The warmth and crispness that Yuri extracts from his Ruck and is captured in this recording are absolutely delightful to sink into. It may be his best recording yet.

Check out a great interview and technique talk with Yuri from the early days of Six String Journal.

Technique Focus – Boost Left Hand Efficiency

When working out the choreography to a new interpretation there are a few aspects of left hand technique that can dramatically improve efficiency. One of those aspects involves a similar idea often referred to as ‘planting’ for the right hand. For example, when playing a rapid and repeated pim arpeggio (like in Asturias), it is common practice to place all three fingers down in a group to stabilize the right hand and to create one efficient gesture instead of three separate actions. The basic rule is that as we move away from p and towards a across string we plant fingers down so the right hand fingers are prepared. Essentially, we stabilize the right hand as we move away from the grounding of p and i.

Applying this concept to the left hand is equally important but the ‘planting’ occurs as we move from finger 4 (pinky) towards finger 1. Theoretically, if only finger 4 is down on the fingerboard, the left hand is not as stable as it would be if another supporting finger were to place somewhere nearby. For example, if we had to play a descending group of chromatic notes 4321 on a string, placing all four fingers before playing reduces the motion to a relaxed gesture of releasing fingers away. If we were to place 4321 down in a sequential fashion, it is not necessarily ‘wrong’, but it would augment the motion of the left hand into many placements and releases, rendering it less efficient. A bit of a mess.

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Six String Journal’s Complete Technique Course