Whats your approach with learning a classical piece of music

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Ides of March, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. Ides of March

    Ides of March Member

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    I decided that I wanted to try something different, so I picked Caprice 24 from Paganini. Now I am not Yngwie, can't play as fast as him but wanted to try this out. I am assuming go slow and pick parts and master the small parts and go from there? And continue to the end going through all the previous parts. What do you guys do?
     
  2. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Anymore I always quit. I used to. I'd approach each one differently though. With traditional classical guitar, I just work it through beginning to end because it was arranged for guitar. On electric I guess it'd depend on what it does and I'd arrange parts differently because of adapting to guitar from violin or whatever.

    I don't have patience anymore to sit and memorize classical stuff. I end up improvising it in a similar vein. I guess that's all Yngwie does anyhow. He never plays that stuff verbatim. It's much more fun that way. Last year I tried a Bach cello piece and had my guitar tuned differently and my sound to give sort've a cello tone. I need to get back to that one. I just want to get it down long enough to record it, and then I can forget it.

    I think you just gotta jump in and find a lot of time to devote. Probably the most important factor for that.
     
  3. ivers

    ivers Member

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    I do small phrases at a time, but try to push forwards as well. What this means in practice is, I learn small phrases at a slow tempo, so that I have a decent grip on them in terms of how they sound and the fingerings.

    When I've learned enough small phrases to define a section, I work through this section slow, then faster, until I get good at it without dropping notes and confusing fingerings at the intended tempo. No rules for saying it's a section, just what makes musically sense for me right there and then.

    When playing through the section, I might identify difficult passages, and do a bit of closer work on them, then taking the tempo down and making sure I can integrate them in the rest of the section without mistake.

    Then I move forwards to a new section following the same procedure.

    This makes it a bit more fun than just working at small phrases until you master them completely and up to tempo, because you get the sense of progress and you more quickly get the satisfaction of playing music.
     
  4. DakotaRed

    DakotaRed Member

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    Good grief, starting with the 24th Caprice is crazy! If you aren't used to working on classical pieces, start out with something shorter and slower and easier. Try something from the solo violin Sonatas and Partitas. I'm working on the very last piece now. It's quick but doable. The sheet music easily fits on one page. You can find the sheet music online for free.

    As far as learning the piece, I just memorize a phrase at a time until I can play it all the way through. Then I work on the rough spots...
     
  5. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    I divide the piece into parts, yes, but I start from the beginning, not randomly pick parts.

    Let's say I divide the piece into 50 parts. I might work on nothing but Part 1 for a week. Then Part 1 and Part 2 next week. Add Part 3 the third week. I work on playing the piece with no mistakes from beginning to Part X. If I don't have a set deadline to learn the piece, this is my preferred approach.

    Playing through all the way to the end does not work as well for me, as learning the piece a little at a time.

    If OTOH, my orchestra director sent me a piece that I had to learn in 6 days,then I just play through to the end, mistakes and all, at least once per day. Most of my practice for the day is focused on the trouble spots with the metronome set to slow tempo, and then working on transitions into and out of the trouble spot. This is not my ideal way to learn a piece though, because of the time constraint created by an external force (the director). This is why I usually turn down requests to participate in big orchestral productions, like Handel's Messiah in its entirety or something - I'd rather not deal with the stress of learning a difficult (for me) piece in just a month.
     
  6. FatJeff

    FatJeff Member

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    Believe it or not, with a classical piece, where my goal is to play it verbatim every time, I start at the *end* of the piece and work (in 4- 6- or 8-bar phrases) to the beginning. The theory being that by the time I get to the beginning few measures, the rest is a piece of cake, since I've already practiced it so much.
     
  7. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Did you get this idea from the "Art of Piano Playing" book?
     
  8. FatJeff

    FatJeff Member

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    No; this idea was given to me several years ago when I was primarily playing CG. I don't remember exactly where I got it from though.

    BTW, an excellent source of CG tips is Douglas Niedt's site (and if you EVER get the chance to see him play live, do it!): http://www.douglasniedt.com/vaultofclassicalguitartechniquetips.html
     
  9. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Oh thanks man!

    Most of my classical playing is on the viola, but I'll try that backwards idea the next time I get a challenging piece of music to play with just a short prep time.
     
  10. 7/4

    7/4 Member

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    What he said. Start with something simple.
     
  11. 7/4

    7/4 Member

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    I don't. How do you work out the fingering if you don't know the beginning yet?
     
  12. Seraphine

    Seraphine Member

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    Get Dave Celentano ~ Speed Metal / Neo-Classical Styles...

    He covers Paganini's Caprice and some of the Variations. This way you can easily grasp not only the techniques ( he does a brilliant job arranging ) .... but you'll gather a pocket full of classical thinking / playing quickly... Then it's a matter of playing them with speed lol... and playing such style well...

    This book will really help you save a lot of time when it comes to electric Baroque / Classical thinking and playing. Especially if you're looking into this out of interest more than background experience.

    It's a brilliant book man and can probably be found online somewhere... The book is in Tab AND Notation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  13. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    That's a good ?, since the fingering is based on the logic by where you're coming from.
     
  14. FatJeff

    FatJeff Member

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    Well obviously, you break apart the sections into phrases. Within any phrase, the fingering will be correct; your only point of confusion might come from stitching the phrases together.

    Or you can just download the tabs.
     
  15. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    The first thing I do is sight-read through the whole thing, warts and all, to get a general feel for the form and sound of the piece, and also to perform a bit of technical 'triage' - you remember M*A*S*H*? The incoming wounded were divided into groups of three depending on severity?

    For the figures/sections that are placed in the most critical 'triage' group, I'll find some way to derive a daily exercise out of them, doing maybe the exact part, or maybe extrapolating a more thorough exercise that zeroes in on the specific challenge.

    The middle group, I might just run through them slowly a bunch...

    The easiest group I generally save for bigger 'run-throughs' a little later on...

    Simultaneously, I'll start analyzing and making markings - where to bring out certain melodic or rhythmic shapes, where motifs develop, clarifying some important dynamic ideas. I'll also take this opportunity to do some background research on the work itself, what kind of ideas it addresses artistically, what stage of the composer's canon it's in, what are some of its creative influences, what are its structural concepts, what are some of the peripheral extramusical things that might aid in interpretation...

    Then, I will usually start to run a complete section at a time as slowly as necessary to play accurately and implant as many of these musical ideas concurrently with 'getting it under my fingers'. I try to go with full sections to get a feel for the continuity of the piece from the very beginning.

    Then, I will attempt to string larger sections together as progress allows.

    At this point, I'm generally ready for ensemble rehearsals, or if it's a solo piece, practice run-throughs, which for me is where the real work starts. Given a good tail wind and a relatively relaxed schedule, this prep process takes me about a week or two, depending on length/difficulty
     
  16. Sadhaka

    Sadhaka Member

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    To the OP, is there any reason why you chose this particular piece? If this is your first attempt at a classical piece I would say that the idea is madness actually. That piece is so difficult to play correctly and up to tempo that unless you are quite an accomplished fingerstyle guitarist it may take years to master.

    If you are looking to have an exploration into classical guitar music try the good ol' Prelude No. 1 in E minor by H. Villa-Lobos, or get Six Easy Progressive Pieces Opus 139 by Mauro Giuliani.

    I really don't mean to sound patronising but Classical Guitar is a very, very difficult beast to tame...
     
  17. Seraphine

    Seraphine Member

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    This is precisely why I mentioned ....

    This will give some sort of idea... electric gtr requires this and more...
     
  18. Ides of March

    Ides of March Member

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    Ha. No you don't sound patronising. I just liked the melody of how it went, it was different and although I don't plan to be able to play it like Yngwie, it is a new road for me to try other than the same old stuff. I really like Paganini. I will check out Prelude No.1 also.
     
  19. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Just say no to internet tabs. Lots of bad stuff out there.
     
  20. FatJeff

    FatJeff Member

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    I'm just saying that it's helpful (or at least I've found it helpful) in learning a piece of CG music. All fingerings are up for alteration at any time, in my opinion.

    The learn-it-backwards thing is more of a mental tool than anything else.

    The tabs remark was a joke.
     

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