Classical guitar, being one of the earlier forms of playing the instrument, is a unique style in and of itself. Regardless of your skill level on guitar, adding classical techniques can be a fun, interesting challenge.
In his course, Beginner Method for Classical Guitar, Andrew Leonard accelerates the learning process so you can get the fundamentals of this style under your fingers quickly and properly.
Here are 5 free classical guitar lessons from the course. For the full course, check out Andrew Leonard’s Beginner Method for Classical Guitar on TrueFire!
Milan Pavan Chordal Passage: Overview
This passage from Luys Milán’s “Pavan 1” is perfect for applying the classical guitar left hand positions from Section 2. When learning this passage, you’ll notice many of the chord shapes and progressions are similar to previous exercises.
Milan Pavan Chordal Passage: Performance
As you watch and listen to me perform this passage, there are several things I want you to look for. First, just listen a few times and become familiar with how it sounds. Then listen specifically for the melody. The melody is found in the top note of each chord. Can you hum or sing it?
Next, I want you to analyze my right and left hand technique. In the right hand: How much do I follow through? When I move P (thumb) from string to string, notice the hand does not move, just P. Also, the string crossings that involve moving the entire hand and are very minimal. Sometimes P is moving at the same time.
In the left hand: Are all the movements obvious? Which can you identify, and which are harder to figure out? Notice that not all left hand position movements are obvious.
Finally, watch the next video (the breakdown). After viewing it and learning to play this passage, come back and look for the same things. You may be amazed at how much more you notice.
Milan Pavan Chordal Passage: Breakdown
After viewing and analyzing the previous video, you’re probably quite familiar with this passage from Luys Milán’s “Pavan 1” and well prepared to learn it.
As always, be patient and practice choosing a tempo that allows you to easily to think ahead of your finger movements. Remember, not only are you learning part of the final piece in the course, you’re developing your right hand and left hand classical guitar technique.
Learning to play this passage will deepen your awareness of melody. One practice suggestion is to play only the melody note from each chord several times and then play the full chords. I find after doing this it’s easier to hear the melody as I play all the notes in a chord.
Please Note: Towards the very end of the passage there is a single note played on the 3rd string, first fret using left hand finger 1. In the video I use my right hand I (index) finger to play. In the notation and tab, it’s labeled as being played with M (middle finger). You can use whichever is more comfortable.
Aguado Arpeggio Etude: Performance
As I perform Dionisio Aguado’s Etude, I want you to listen and watch me – just as I suggested you do with the “Milan Pavan Passage”. Which left hand classical guitar positions can you see? What do you notice in my right hand movements when I play arpeggios? Although the speed of this piece is a little bit faster than our arpeggio exercises, the right hand movements are quite similar and precise.
Next, think about the rhythm. Can you count 1 & 2 & through the entire piece, just like I counted off?
Finally, listen for the melody. Where is it? In this piece, the melody is in the bass. Each melody note occurs on the beat (when counting either on 1 or 2). Can you hear how the volume of the melody subtly rises and falls and how I end the piece. This is called “shaping a musical line”.
What really draws a listener into the world of classical guitar is a beautiful sound (tone) and the ability to “shape a musical line”. Even as a beginner playing short pieces such as this Aguado Etude, make this your goal.
This Arpeggio Study can be played slow or fast. I play a quicker version at the end of the Section 3 Wrap Up. Again, speed is not your first goal. Mastery of precise movements (often done by practicing slowly) and musical expression should be your primary focus.
Milan Pavan: Performance
When watching and listening to my performance of Milán’s “Pavan 1”, I want you to again analyze my playing. Study my classical guitar technique. Look for the left hand positions, as well as the right hand rest and free strokes including P (thumb).
Listen to how I shape the musical lines. Can you hear when I gradually become louder (crescendo) or when I gradually become quieter (decrescendo)? How do I end each strain? Also, what is the mood of the piece?
Is my tempo consistent or does it fluctuate? One hint: in Renaissance music it is best for the “tactus” (early music term for beat or pulse) to be consistent. Remember this is dance music. In other eras of music, the Romantic for example, it is best use more “rubato” (slightly speeding up and slowing down) when playing.
Here’s a performance tip to keep in mind: When I perform, I like to associate a passage or piece with one word to capture its mood. This helps keep me focused, allows me to breathe with the music and stay in what I call the “groove of the piece”. For this piece, the word I think of is “solemn”. When you hear the piece, do any words describe its mood to you?
Enjoying these free classical guitar lessons from Andrew Leonard? Check out his full course, Beginner Method for Classical Guitar.