Guitar lessons in Edinburgh

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Welcome to the guitar lessons in Edinburgh blog! Here we've got some lesson material mixed in with some musings on learning music in general. Feel free to join in!


Exams, and learning too much!

By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Jan 29 2019 12:18AM

It's often the mistake of many Edinburgh guitar lessons to keep learning new things each lesson, because of course it feels like you're learning new things! Now there's nothing wrong with this at all for the hobby player, but if you're going to take it more seriously you need to be aware that when you're constantly learning new things, you're really just remembering fret patterns on the neck, and not really 'learning' them. Take a scale for example, as any Edinburgh guitar teacher knows many guitarists will learn a scale as a fret position on the guitar, but won't be able to play it unless they start at the start and play linear until the end. This is like learning to pass an exam; you don't really need to know the material, you just need to regurgitate it when asked. Regarding exams, it's useful to approach exams such as rockschool or rgt as broadly as possible. Most will require the student to perform a number of scales, arpeggios and chords but in a fairly limited context, as described above. It's an understandable dilemma from the point of view of the exam; it would seem too unattainable, and exhaustive, in a grading system to require the student to practice the technical material (such as a scale) to a tempo and in as many patterns as needed to have really absorbed it. It's unfashionable to talk about playing speed in these sorts of conversations, but it does serve as an indicator of the level of repetition. Ideally, it's the quality of the notes that should be valued (aiming for 'true legato', leaving no gaps between the notes) and therefore whatever tempo was required it would be assumed this was to only be played with true legato (or fairly close). It would be important to stress this point (especially as pertaining to an exam condition) so as not to encourage the student to a attempt a tempo they weren't ready for. As always, check out for more guitar related waffling!

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