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become a virtuoso guitarist

Updated on October 21, 2009

The Old Master

The Old Master, godfather of the modern guitar, Andres Segevia
The Old Master, godfather of the modern guitar, Andres Segevia

How I did it, My Humble Offering

The classical guitar is the easiest instrument to learn, the most difficult to master. The first thing to remember is that you can play beautiful notes and chords the fist day, and then take the rest of your life learning the pieces of the great masters. I navigated this complex labyrinth for ten years. My opinion is a humble one.

Get a great teacher. The first thing to do is get a qualified teacher. That doesn't necessarily mean one that went to college either. My teacher never set foot in college, until he taught there. Find a teacher who keeps true to the traditions of the old masters. Their blood, sweat, and tears paved the way for us. They built a "virtuoso superhighway" for us.

Become a reader, not a memorizer.

When you memorize a peice, you will (not even maybe) miss many nuances and markings that add to the beauty of the peice. This will also break you of the bad habit of looking at your hands. You should be able to play blindfolded eventually. Remember, the lights of Carnegie hall will blind you. What are you going to to then?

Diligence is key.

Daily devotion to the instrument will give your hands the stamina they need, the muscle memory you can rely on and the discipline that will help you climb the mountain. Even a half hour a day is better than taking days off, then trying to cram the day before the lesson.

Don't listen to other guitarists.

Listening to other guitarists will hurt you in many ways. If their interpretation is flawed, so will yours be. If they play a wrong note, So will you. Don't listen to other guitarists. Listen to Flutes, pianos, symphony, the birds chirping, the wind howling for inspiration.

No mind altering substances.

Your music will become "disembodied" with these vices. Your fingers will not obey the page as well. You may forget important aspects of the interpretation. The essence of the piece could be lost. When I played under the influence, I never really played as well.

Play loudly

It may sound too loud practicing in your living room, but consider the fact that someday, there may be five thousand people coughing, sneezing, and talking (rudely) in front of you. You'll want to be able to be heard in the back of the auditorium as well, after all, they paid to hear you in the cheap seats too. One of the hardest things for me to get students to do is play loud enough.


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      Masters apprentice 5 years ago

      Great article.. Once you get the basics on how to practice learn as much as you can and if you have a musical ear all of these lessons will be combined and unified into your style. That's what's happened to me. I've become very good considering I'm a self taught guitarist.

    • Portamenteff profile image

      Portamenteff 7 years ago from Western Colorado, USA

      Thank you VivekSri. I haven't been active lately, but Thank you for leaving the comment on there so long for approval.

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      VivekSri 7 years ago

      couldn't have been better! always loved that hubs with a musical feel to them. thanks and keep your hubs open.

    • Portamenteff profile image

      Portamenteff 7 years ago from Western Colorado, USA

      Well I've spent around $10,000 on lessons. It was worth every penny. Navigating the delicate labrynth of peices made a lot of sense, with a master as my guide. There are thousands of peices. Which one do you learn? In what order? You can hurt yourself doing it alone.

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      GLucas7797 7 years ago

      You should listen to other classical guitarists -- Segovia, Williams, Perkneing, etc.

      The cost of lessons is outrageous. But take lessons for the firsttwo years of serious practice, until you reach an advanced level. Butonce you know what you're doing, you can make it on your own. Breams and Segovia did it without teachers.

    • Portamenteff profile image

      Portamenteff 7 years ago from Western Colorado, USA

      I haven't heard them. Do they have a website or social network profile?

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      kingn0thing 7 years ago

      Great page, what do you think of Rodrigo y Gabriela? I think they play some beautiful music.

    • Portamenteff profile image

      Portamenteff 8 years ago from Western Colorado, USA

      Glad to help. If you find that you love it, greatness will come easily. There are some amazing guitarists and teacher in Spain, especially Andalucia where Andres Segovia was from.

    • marieryan profile image

      Marie Ryan 8 years ago from Andalusia, Spain


      I've just watched a documentary on Andrés Segovia on Spanish TV. (I live in Andalucia, Spain.)

      I enjoyed your article very much. I'm just new at the music thing...(never too old to learn?) and have been learning Spanish Classical guitar for two years now ...with a teacher... at my local Town Hall and I'm going to take all your advice! I already knew about the mind-altering substances and the teacher but all the rest is really USEFUL! Thanks