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The Bowers Fader Duo: Between Us All: New American Art Songs for Voice & Guitar
Jessica Bowers, mezzo-soprano, and Oren Fader, guitar
New Focus Recordings, 2019

Buy, Learn, and Listen to Samples: New Focus Recordings | AmazonBandcamp

I was very pleased to be sent this exquisite recording of new music for voice and guitar with new compositions by American composers. The musical language and writing for guitar and voice is excellent throughout. With great ensemble performances, intricate and musical guitar work, and soaring vocals, this is a very exciting release.

“Since their formation in 2009, The Bowers Fader Duo (Jessica Bowers, mezzo-soprano, and Oren Fader, guitar) has commissioned over 20 new works from American composers representing a wide range of compositional aesthetics. Between Us All, their debut recording, features performances of works by Paul Salerni, Scott Wheeler, Tim Mukherjee, and David Claman, that highlight the duo’s precise realization of the musical score and expressive communication of the texts.” – via New Focus Recordings

Video Performances

Three Folk Song Settings by Tim Mukherjee - The Bowers Fader Duo - YouTube

Bowers Fader Duo: Paul Salerni "Something Permanent" (C. Rylant) - YouTube

Repertoire

Paul Salerni: Something Permanent

  • 1. Land
  • 2. Mission
  • 3. Minstrels
  • 4. Boys
  • 5. Apartment
  • 6. Bed
  • 7. Rocker

Scott Wheeler: Canzoni Italiane

  • 8. Non mi mandar messaggi
  • 9. L’amor mio partì soldato
  • 10. Vieni, corri da me
  • 11. She Left for Good But Came Back

David Claman

  • 12. Ganga-Yamuna
  • 13. The Maldive Shark
  • 14. The Enviable Isles

Tim Mukherjee: Folk Song Settings

  • 15. Prelude
  • 16. Adieu, Dundee
  • 17. O Come, Emmanuel
  • 18. Interlude
  • 19. Idumea
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Fantasie - Silvius Leopold Weiss played by Sanel Redžić - YouTube

Sanel Redžić plays Fantasie by Silvius Leopold Weiss (1687 – 1750). This comes via Redžić’s amazing YouTube channel. Guitar by Otto Vowinkel 2004 and recorded in Schottenkirche, Erfurt, Germany. Great playing as usual from Redžić. I love his balanced approach and direct musicality. Weiss is some of my favourite music of any era or instrument. There is something wonderful about this late Baroque galant style that is simultaneously simple and easy to listen to but also elegant and intellectual. It’s perfect!

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Lesson & Free PDF: March Funebre by Catharina Pratten for Classical Guitar - YouTube

March Funebre by Catharina Josepha Pratten (1824-1895), also know as Madame Sidney Pratten. Video lesson and performance. Sheet Music for Classical Guitar with Notation Only or Notation & TAB plus fingering. PDF Download. The level is Mid-Intermediate (Approximately Grade 6) due to some tricky chords and fingering.

Free PDF Notation Edition

Buy the TAB Edition

March Funebre by Catharina Josepha Pratten (1824-1895), also know as Madame Sidney Pratten. This piece for classical guitar comes from Madame R. Sidney Pratten’s Guitar School (1859). Born Catharina Josepha Pelzer in Mülheim. She was a German guitarist, composer and teacher. Her father, Ferdinand Pelzer, was German guitarist and music teacher. Later married to the flautist Robert Sidney Pratten, hence the name used in the method book and elsewhere. The piece is marked Largo and is a funeral march. That said, it’s quite good a bit faster so I took a middle ground tempo. Youtube Video Lesson Link (4k)

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Xuanxuan Sun / Carlo Domeniconi : Variations on an Anatolian Folksong - YouTube

Xuanxuan Sun Plays Variations on an Anatolian Folksong by Carlo Domeniconi (b.1947). This comes via PARTITA Guitar Salon in Seoul, Korea on their YouTube. I love this early work by Domeniconi and especially when played by one of my favourite players. Xuanxuan Sun has been featured on the site a number of times and always amazes me with her pristine musicality and technique.

Sheet Music Plus: Anatolian Variations by Domeniconi

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Review: Journey Instruments – FC522 Collapsible Classical Guitar - YouTube

Journey Instruments – FC522 Classical Guitar
First Class-ical FC522 travel guitar, solid cedar / solid pao ferro
YouTube Video Review Link

Buy, learn more, see specs at Journey Instruments

I’m at it again, having fun with the First Class-ical FC522 by Journey Instruments. It’s a collapsible travel guitar with solid cedar top and solid pao ferro back with full gloss finish on body, and satin finish for the neck. Influenced by a traditional Torres shape and bracing for a fairly traditional sound. Usually travel guitars are small and not ideal for practicing but this one is pretty much full size which is fantastic (see my note below on scale length). It collapses into a great roller carry-on case with retractable aluminum handle – which has room for all your gear, perfect for flights. Overall great value for the price of $999 USD via their site. The mellow warm tone will be appreciated by most. 

What I liked

  • The arm rest/bevel feels great and looks even better
  • Assembly is super fast and easy, takes about 30 seconds (not counting tuning)
  • The design effort is awesome, it looks cool and works super well
  • Piezo amplification will be useful for people playing amped gigs
  • Nice mellow sound and balance, good for the price and a travel guitar
  • Solid wood top and back is nice to have for sustain and tone
  • Guitar action and setup was great right out of the box, I didn’t need to do a single adjustment. That in itself is super impressive.
  • Small feel of the instrument and body is perfect for me (I’m short)
  • Finishing and workmanship is generally high quality, especially for this price range
  • Price is great at $999 USD

Things to consider

  • Advertised as full size scale length of 650mm but I measured it at 625mm. It’s 650mm to the tie block but guitars are measured from nut to saddle, which is always what is expected for scale length. That said, I like small scale lengths and it feels great so I consider this a plus and they should advertise it as a plus. For the average person it will still feel pretty much like a full size. 
  • Only goes up to a high A (the normal is a B, sometimes a C nowadays). This is fine though, it’s a travel guitar so no big deal. Intermediate plays won’t notice/care most likely.
  • I liked the sound overall but not much ‘pop’ response on upper strings. Still, well balanced though. It’s a great travel guitar but don’t expect too much in a hall.

Journey Instruments Promo Paragraph

The First Class-ical FC522 is an amazing collapsible performance-ready travel guitar with solid cedar top and solid pao ferro back with full gloss finish on body, and satin finish for the neck. It’s super ergonomic with a robust Manzer© wedge and traditional Torres sized body. With a standard 52mm nut and 650mm scale, the traditional Torres shape and bracing make this guitar sound a rich and full as a performance grade classical guitar at more than twice this price.! Barre chords are easy, and the body shape makes for hours of playing without shoulder fatigue. It collapses to carry-on dims of 22*14.8*9 inches in our roller carry-on case with retractable aluminum handle – which has more than enough room for all your gear. Premium appointments make this guitar a gem for classical guitarists who need a ultra-portable quality sounding classical guitar that is stage ready and plays like a dream! 

Full Specs and Info

Photos

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Castelnuovo-Tedesco's "La Primavera" from "Platero y Yo" played by Adam Levin on a Jeffrey Elliott - YouTube

Adam Levin playing La Primavera from Platero y Yo by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895–1968) on a 2012 Jeffrey Elliott classical guitar. This comes via Guitar Salon International and their YouTube channel. One can never get enough of Tedesco’s excellent motivic writing and Levin’s energetic performance here.

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Quatre pieces breves (Frank Martin) – Valeria Galimova, guitar - YouTube

Russian guitarist Valeria Galimova plays Quatre Pièces Brèves by Frank Martin (1890–1974). This comes via Guitar Magazine on Youtube via Moscow. The four movements are: I. Prelude; II. Air (2:25); III. Plainte (3:55); IV. Comme une Gigue (6:04).

If you’re interested about the history of this piece check out Hans Jonkers article summing up the Segovia interaction and eventual publication of the work and its variants. I’ve always loved the Martin pieces for their musical language and how he focuses on melody and motivic unity. Frank Martin was a Swiss composer, who lived a large part of his life in the Netherlands. He wrote Quatre pièces brèves in 1933 but also has some chamber music with guitar including this piece I’ve love to perform someday: Poèmes de la mort for for tenor, baritone, bass and 3 electric guitars (one is a bass guitar I believe).

Sheet Music via Amazon: Quatre pièces brèves

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10 Classical Guitar Lessons for Beginners - YouTube

This beginner lesson for classical guitar covers 10 important lessons when learning classical guitar. This is a general overview lesson for beginner classical guitar but is also useful to intermediate students, see below for more specific topics. Find more lessons at the Lesson Archive Page. For free lessons, sheet music, and videos join the Email Newsletter. My free method book. Like these lessons? Consider supporting the site.

10 Classical Guitar Lessons for Beginners

1. Reexamine your posture and hand positions – Small adjustments in a number of places in your set up can make a big difference. Beginners need to constantly reevaluate.

2. Consider ergonomics on classical guitar – Beginners and intermediate students should closely watch for strange contortions and anything that is not ergonomic. Using a mirror can help.

3. Practice very slowly – I’ve rarely encountered a student who practices as slowly as I think they should. Practicing ultra slowly will ensure you are playing with your best hand positions, sound, confidence, relaxation, accuracy, and more. Once you can play something well at a slow tempo, you can speed it up while keeping an eye on the quality level.

4. Play the melody on its own (keep it simple) – If you can’t play the melody nicely on its own, how can you play all the note? Learn to play the melody nice and legato first and introduce the rest of the notes after.

5. Dive deeper into musicality – Students can get super caught up in their own technique and progress but remember to strive for better phrasing, dynamic shaping, and overall musicality.

6. Quality practice and happiness – Making your practice sessions enjoyable will be key to long-term musical success and development. When experiencing difficulties, break up the piece or exercise into small manageable goals at a speed you can accomplish successfully. Even if you only play a few notes at a time, playing successfully will improve your skills and give you a feeling of accomplishment.

7. Treat and reward yourself – Make your practice session an enjoyable and special time of your day. Have a treat or nice coffee, buy that nice music stand and metronome.

8. Playing well, don’t compare yourself to others (too much) – Focus instead on having a solid rhythm, legato lines, confident and full tone. Forget about reaching fast tempos, develop a solid and beautiful foundation first.

9. Listen to more music (not just guitar) – You must increase your awareness of the larger musical world. Guitar is great but it’s only a small niche and won’t inform you of all the musical eras diversity. Listen to piano, strings, symphonies, Bach cantatas, voice, lieder, and more.

10. Practice everyday, there are no bad days – I don’t believe in good or bad practice days. All days are good opportunities to practice something. On days when you are having trouble focusing or executing material cleanly, slow down your speed and use a metronome until you are playing well. You may have to play at half the speed you intended but you can still get in some quality practice.

More Video Lessons for Beginner Classical Guitar

Classical Guitar Lesson: Posture, Technique, and Hand Positions - YouTube

Lesson: Sitting Position for Classical Guitar - YouTube

Lesson: Right Hand Position & Technique for Classical Guitar - YouTube

Lesson: Left Hand Position for Classical Guitar - YouTube

Lesson: Tips and Advice for Beginner Classical Guitarists - YouTube

More Lessons for Beginner Classical Guitar
  • Step 2: Learn to Play with Method Books with Video Lessons 
  • Classical Guitar Method Book Vol. 1 by Werner – Free 100 page PDF method with 20+ video lessons for beginners. Focus is on reading music and playing melodies and arpeggios.
  • Classical Guitar Method Book Vol. 2 by Werner – Solos, duets, chords songs, 15+ video lessons. The main focus is on reading in different keys but also introducing slurs, half barres, rhythm, and some upper positions.
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Bradford Werner Plays Impressions soleil couchant (à Francis Poulenc) by Roland Dyens - YouTube

Bradford Werner plays Impressions soleil couchant (à Francis Poulenc) by Roland Dyens (1955-2016) and via my YouTube. I’ll be trying to post weekly student and intermediate pieces so you can discover new repertoire to play. I love this simple hommage to Poulenc that I’ll pair with Poulenc’s Sarabande. This comes from Dyen’s Vol. 1 of Les 100 de Roland Dyens which contains 100 intermediate pieces. The pieces are almost small motivic improvisations and etudes forming an unpretentious collection of musical flavours.

Sheet Music

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Here are a number of lessons on rasgueado on classical guitar. This form of strumming often associated with Spanish or flamenco guitar is also heavily used in classical guitar both in repertoire and in technique practice. The below lessons are much more directed at rasgueado use for classical guitar guitarists at the beginner to later intermediate level (not for flamenco specifically). For more free weekly lessons join the  for updates and please consider donating to the site or sharing this post to support.

Lesson: Basic Rasgueado for Classical Guitar Technique - YouTube

This exercise is from my new book Classical Guitar Technique: Essential Exercises, Scales, and ArpeggiosThe 122 page book includes: Practice Routines, Tips, 100 Open String Exercises, 120 Giuliani Arpeggios, Scales, Slur Exercises, Shifts, Finger Independence, Barre, Tremolo, Common Harmonics, and much more.

Basic Rasgueado on Open Strings – There are many great books that fully cover rasgueado technique, not to mention the plethora of flamenco techniques. This book will provide a few simple patterns to give the right hand a basic rasgueado workout. The arrows pointing up on the page indicate a strum from the bass strings to the treble strings as the notation would suggest. Arrows pointing down on the page indicate a strum from the treble strings to the bass strings.

Pepe Romero Rasgueado - YouTube

An impromptu lesson in rasgueado technique for guitar by Pepe Romero. Keep watching through to when he start playing. Romero has some impressive and strong rasgueado but keep close attention to his relaxation tips as that is the key! Watch until the end because the student (I’m assuming Andrey) makes a fantastic breakthrough, what a great moment. For more free weekly lessons join the  for updates and please consider donating to the site or sharing this post to support.

Lesson: Beginner Rasgueado Exercises for Classical Guitar - YouTube

Video Link & Source: This is Classical Guitar on YouTube

This is a new video lesson for my ebook: 20 Favorite Exercises for Classical Guitar – For beginner to intermediate classical guitarists (Includes: notation, TAB, fingerings, practice tips). I’ve been meaning to re-record some of these with better video quality.

This exercise, No. 9 – Basic Rasgueado Patterns for classical guitar, is not intended to train you in the art of flamenco, instead, they are aimed to give your right-hand a good workout, strengthen the fingers, and increase the reflex-oriented ‘return to start’ direction of finger movements. I’ve found that rasgueado practice is excellent for the right hand position of students. You need a certain amount of clearance as well as having to move the fingers from the upper knuckle joint. Therefore, it’s similar to regular playing but in reverse. GO!

Books to consider

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