Juan's World

Guitarist, Composer, Writer, Publisher

Filtering by Category: Learning

Water Wearing Stone: Practical Matters of Classical Guitar Composition

A composer creates, above all. Today’s composers must nevertheless navigate a myriad of factors including commissions, licensing and copyright, distribution and digital streaming, on and on. Perchance in Bach’s day it was easier: toiling in obscurity and poverty, or gaining fame—if not riches—most composers labored under the patronage of a wealthy and influential benefactor. Then again, Bach didn’t have the option of sending a performer MIDI files via Dropbox. Composers in the 21st century possess countless options, although most of us will still be unlikely, except under near-miraculous circumstances, to receive rich recompense for our work. Composing can be rewarding and worthwhile in and of itself, but whether an established or aspiring composer, attention to practical aspects and business details may have a great influence over your ultimate success.

Note: This article first appeared in Classical Guitar magazine's Summer 2017 issue.

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Innovation and the Publishing Start-Up

Choice magazine's annual University Press Forum offers the perspectives of University Press directors on a variety of topics. This year's Forum—the 13th in the series—addresses the topic of Innovation at the University Press. Essays from eight University Press directors are included in this year's Forum, including Bruce Austin, RIT Press; Courtney Burkholder, Texas Tech University Press; Faye Chadwell, Oregon State University Press; Steve Cohn, Duke University Press; Linda Manning, The University of Alabama Press; Gianna Mosser, Liz Hamilton, and Jane Bunker at Northwestern University Press; Mary Rose Muccie, Temple University Press; and yours truly.

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Improvisation and Classical Guitar – Part 2

My article on improvisation and classical guitar (Classical Guitar Summer 2016) considers the history and context of classical guitar improvisation (and classical music in general); discusses why and when to improvise; and provides some strategies on how to get started.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing three imminent classical guitarists—Roland Dyens, Dušan Bogdanović, and Andrew York—asking them many of the same questions. Herein is an edited transcript of these conversations that expands on many of the techniques and topics discussed in part 1.

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Improvisation and Classical Guitar

The first step, and in some ways the most difficult one, is to wrap your head around the idea of improvisation on the classical guitar. What precisely is improvisation, and what is not? A familiar part of the musical toolbox for guitarists specializing in jazz, flamenco, bluegrass, blues, rock and other genres, improvisation has been relatively neglected, if not exactly derided, in modern classical guitar. This extends to classical music in general, of course. Considering the history of classical music and the evolution of the guitar, it’s perhaps surprising that improvisation does not play a larger role.

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Learning, Practice, and Mastery

In Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, authors Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel argue that learning is more meaningful and effective when effortful, even as we are poor judges of when we are learning well and when we are not. ... The relationship of learning, practice, and mastery in the case of musicianship is explored thoroughly in Gerald Klickstein’s The Musician's Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance, and Wellness. Written especially classical and jazz instrumentalists and vocalists at the university level, the book nevertheless provides important lessons for musicians of widely diverse levels and backgrounds.

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