Creating a Good Foundation
There is a plethora of guitar methods in the world. Most of them that I’ve seen contain a great number of accomplished exercises for the guitarist to learn. From Carulli and Giuliani’s studies to The Christopher Parkening Guitar Method (Vol. 1 and 2, respectively) and Hal Leonard. There’s not a want for guitar methods. However, which one should be used? Which one is the best at covering all the knowledge that a guitarist needs to know? The answer is… all of the above.
Which Method is Best?
With all of the good material out there, which one is the best book to learn from? That’s really up to your instructor and, yes, I highly recommend that you have a personal instructor, whether that be online through something like Skype, or in-person lessons. An experienced and qualified instructor is your number one option to learn and improve your guitar playing, but more on that in another post.
Your instructor will know which method is the best approach, the best for the student, and the best one to teach out of. I was taught out of the Christopher Parkening Guitar Methods (Vol. 1 and 2). For the most part, they are the ones that I’m most familiar with and the ones I would recommend to a student. They are not the only methods that work, obviously. What I most like about them is their approach to teaching the material.
Not So Much a Method, but an Approach
I think it is safe to say that teaching by playing pieces is the most engaging and interesting way to instruct a student. To my understanding, previous paths to virtuosity were wrought with many intensive exercises and drills that basically bored the student and made the learning of the instrument a challenge, to say the least. I’m not sure if this is been abandoned for the most part because exercises and drills obviously make you stronger in your playing.
However, when I was first learning, the approach used and proclaimed to be the best was a mixture of exercises and drills and easily attainable pieces that reinforced the concepts and techniques that were being taught. That is by far the approach that I like and employ when teaching. Nobody wants to learn guitar by dry dull rote (The Free Dictionary defines “learning by rote” as using repetition to memorize something, as opposed to acquiring a full or robust comprehension of it). Students want to play beautiful repertoire. That’s why they picked up the guitar in the first place. By giving students attainable pieces to play, you give them an exciting path to the technique required to play beautifully. By the way, I’m still learning, you will always be learning.
Don’t Make Mountains Out of Molehills
You have probably heard the expression, “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” I have a saying that I like, “Mountains are made out of little molehills.” That’s all they are and if you address one-mole hill at a time, eventually, you will climb the mountain. Learning the technique, practicing the exercise, and playing a piece of music that enforces the technique, seem to be, the best pathway to success.
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