Who wins, classical or rock?
By Guitar lessons in Edinburgh, Mar 9 2018 02:18AM
Obviously this blog isn't to guide you towards learning any one style or another; we're all drawn towards whichever style that attracts us. However, any guitar teacher in Edinburgh will, whether intentionally or not, give some (non-objective!) input into some of the advantages and disadvantages of learning one style over another. Let's start with classical, the style of my first lesson, and of many other guitar lessons in Edinburgh. Classical guitar is great for beginners, and when comparing the learning curriculums of classical and the most obvious alternative (rock), it seems that the standards are a bit higher for classical. Scales that have to be learnt for exams tend to be a higher bpm and often in 2 octave shapes rather than 1. It also forces (under pain of death) students to learn to read music, rather than tab, which can only be a good thing. This trend continues as the student becomes more proficient and reaches higher grades and greater expectations. Since the PRIMARY requirement for the classical musician is to play a rehearsed piece of music as perfectly as possible, they practice to a have a clear tone, good note values, rhythmic accuracy and of course good right and left hand technique. All good stuff. However, it's a tad strict in regards to expression, and does not require the student to really understand what they're playing, just that they can play it. In this way it can be somewhat insular.
These are all required of the rock musician too of course, yet they're often not demanded, or their importance not stressed. 'Rock' musician is obviously an incredibly vague label, however if we're talking about the basic pedagogy, classical and rock are the only 2 idioms (though rock guitarists tend to lean roughly toward either blues or shred. Sometimes both). At guitar lessons in Edinburgh, most students choose to start with rock guitar. In this style, now the stress is on 'feel', improvisation and expression. All of this is important, however all the precision and dedication to developing good tone and technique required of classical musicians normally gets diluted. No self respecting rock musician can be seen practicing scales and arpeggios, and certainly not with a metronome. Meanwhile the classical guitarists that play with even the smallest hint of personal input are all rounded up and shot. Not entirely true of course, but I'd argue at least somewhat valid criticisms of the 2 genres. Remember we're just talking about the pedagogy and what you can get out of the learning process, as musical genres to listen to you can't honestly critizice anything, as it's all subjective (and yet still I try). Hopefully everyone is offended enough to check out the blog next month where I'll argue why learning jazz is the best of both worlds!