“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”
This essay will define how and what I learned to master introductory guitar techniques as well as advanced level guitar and performance techniques through formal and informal learning commensurate with first-rate college level education as exemplified in courses at Oberlin College, The Berklee College of Music, and The New School For Jazz and Contemporary Music. I have been playing guitar for 47 years (39 years professionally) and I have a deep knowledge of my instrument.
References to harmony, theory, composition and improvisation are occasionally made to underscore how I learned guitar and performance techniques. However, other essays address “Harmony and Theory” and “Composition and Structured Improvisation”. It is not my objective to address those subjects in this essay.
Some of the ways in which I learned guitar and performance techniques include: enculturation, formal instruction from private teachers and schools, rote learning, dialogues with musicians, imitation through observed behavior, self-education cross referenced tangentially from other interests like film and dance, multimedia learning that incorporates both visual and audio components, the informal learning of interaction with other musicians, on the job learning, and combinations of the above.
Technical mastery is an essential component of virtuosic performance, but musical proficiency is not predicated solely on technique. Although it is imperative for the evolving guitarist to develop a synchronicity between the movements of the right and left hands, musical expression of emotion is essential. As Pablo Casals said, “Every note must sing” (Blum 1980:2).
With my first guitar teacher, an experienced professional musician, Vincent Pattaglia, I learned correct posture, how to hold a guitar, how to hold a pick between my thumb and index finger, how to perform from the elbow without an anchored wrist, how to maintain consistent time with ...Read More