The Birthday of Andrés Segovia

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SEGOVIA, ANDRES 1963       © ERLING MANDELMANNAndrés Segovia was born on this date, February 21, 1893. He brought our world beautiful music by elevating the status of the classical guitar. Rest in peace Maestro. We are forever grateful for the impact your life has had on ours.

Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart.”  

– Andrés Segovia

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3 Reasons Your School Needs a Guitar Program

Budget cuts in education have schools all across the country looking for ways to fund fine arts education. In Texas, House Bill 5 is causing schools to look for new fine arts offerings while keeping costs as low as possible. If this sounds like the situation in your school district, I may have just the solution for you!

guitarGuitar programs are popping up in schools all across the nation because they are easy to start and cost effective. They also teach students the same skills offered in more traditional music programs. Most states have guitar solo and ensemble events already in place. So why aren’t we teaching guitar in the public schools as much as other musical disciplines? I think it’s fear of the unknown. Let’s correct some of the misconceptions about guitar programs.

Records show as many as 90% of guitar students were not in music before entering a guitar program. Adding a guitar program to your school can grow your fine arts program by drawing students unreached by other programs. The majority of guitar programs I’ve studied draw students who aren’t involved in music at school. This gives us the opportunity to expose them to the same life lessons and benefits our other music programs teach. As an example, I teach in a small school and 50% of my guitar class is not in another music program at our school. But they’re learning and performing music every day, and they love the class!

A class set of 30 guitars costs less than one tuba. Here’s where the affordability part kicks in! Band and orchestra instruments are expensive. This fact of life will drive some students away from your program. But a guitar program can reach these same students! A student can buy a new, student-level nylon string guitar for as little as $100. You can find a used guitar for even less. When comparing the cost of a guitar program to band and orchestra, the cost is minimal. This is a cost benefit to the school and to the lower income students in your district.

Many of these classes are being successfully taught by non-guitarist music educators. It’s true! In an ideal setting this wouldn’t be the case, but it does work every day. It works because the same general music skills used to teach choir, band, and orchestra relate to teaching a guitar class. There is also an abundance of guitar learning resources available for free! Just do a quick YouTube search for guitar lessons and see what you come up with. Yes some of it is junk, but there are also quite a few highly skilled guitar teachers that share instructional videos on the web. Need more help? I would be shocked if you couldn’t find a single teacher at your school who plays a little guitar! Ask them for some help because seriously, who wouldn’t want to take a little time at work to play guitar? Or better yet, check out GuitarCurriculum.com! I use their curriculum in my guitar class because of its quality, ease of use, and flexibility for students of different ability levels. It’s very affordable, too!

If your district is looking to add a new fine arts program that reaches new students, is fun and exciting, and is cost effective, then a guitar program may be just the answer you’re looking for!

Discussion Question: Does your school offer a guitar class? If so, post the name of the school, city, and state in the comment area below!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Advocacy information taken from GuitarCurriculum.com.

Musician Alert: The New Law That Affects You

In 2005, I flew from Little Rock to Atlanta, from Atlanta to London, and from London to Munich.  Much to my horror, upon arrival in Munich, my prized and very expensive Jose Ramirez guitar didn’t arrive with me! After about a week without my guitar, it was delivered by the airline to my apartment in Munich (with a damaged case, of course).

In 2006, I flew from New Orleans to Dallas with a guitar as a carry on.  A few days later I flew from Dallas back to New Orleans but this time was not allowed to carry the guitar on the plane.  I instead opted to leave the guitar with family in Dallas due to the previously mentioned incident, and had to use a different guitar while on tour.

If you’ve had an experience like mine you can agree with me that Congress finally did something right!  Musicians everywhere can breathe easy now that a law written two years ago has finally gone into effect. The 112th Congress passed The FAA Modernization and Reform Act in January of 2012, but the law went into effect just this week. What does this mean for musicians?  In short, U.S. airlines are now legally required to allow you to carry small instruments onto the plane as a carry on with no additional fee.  It says so on PDF pages 74-75 linked above.  I’ve copied the appropriate section from the law below, which is really pretty self-explanatory.

Here’s a few pointers for flying with an instrument:

  • Know The Law – Chances are not everyone who works for the airline will be familiar with this new law, so my suggestion to you is to print these two pages of the law and carry it with you.
  • Call Ahead – It’s also always a good idea to call ahead to let the airline know you are traveling with a fragile and valuable instrument. They will often give you their check-in and boarding procedures. These procedures do vary between the different airlines, so check with them first.
  • Arrive and Check In Early – The law requires airlines to allow you to carry on your instrument only if it can be stored in the overhead safely.  The earlier you get on the plane, the more room you’ll have to stow your instrument.  Get an early boarding number so this isn’t an issue.
  • Protect Your Instrument Remove any loose items from your case and store them in your checked luggage.  Be sure that your instrument is in a proper case that doesn’t allow it to move.  If you are traveling with a stringed instrument it is always a good idea to loosen your strings a little to relieve a little of the pressure on the bridge.  Also be sure to attach as many “Fragile” stickers to your case as possible.
  • Make It Easy To Spot A case tag with your contact information is helpful in the event you are separated from your instrument. Also some bright-colored electrical tape on the handle will make your instrument easy to spot in the overhead bin.  And if you unfortunately have to check your instrument, it will be easier to spot coming off of the conveyor.
  • When Checking, Do So Carefully If you are required to check your instrument on the plane, insist that you carry it to the gate yourself. At the gate your instrument can be handed to the baggage crew and loaded under the plane. Doing it this way prevents anyone from playing frisbee with your instrument, or using their coffee break as an opportunity to see how well it plays.  It also insures that your instrument will be one of the last items loaded on the plane. This will place it on top of the pile instead of buried under hundreds of pounds of luggage. You can also request that the instrument be brought to the gate when you arrive instead of traveling on the conveyor, but I’ve found this doesn’t always work.

You should have an easier time when flying with an instrument, thanks to the new two-year-old law.  With a little planning on your part, and some good fortune from the airline, you and your instrument can have a safe and enjoyable flight.

Discussion Question: What’s the worst thing that’s happened to your instrument/luggage while traveling?

SEC. 403. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Subchapter I of chapter 417 is amended by adding at the end the following:
‘‘§ 41724. Musical instruments
‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—
 ‘‘(1) SMALL INSTRUMENTS AS CARRY-ON BAGGAGE.—An air
carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other musical instrument in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to any standard fee that carrier may require for comparable carry-on baggage, if—
‘‘(A) the instrument can be stowed safely in a suitable baggage compartment in the aircraft cabin or under a passenger seat, in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the Administrator; and
‘‘(B) there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.
 ‘‘(2) LARGER INSTRUMENTS AS CARRY-ON BAGGAGE.—An air
carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a musical instrument that is too large to meet the requirements of paragraph (1) in the aircraft cabin, without
H. R. 658—75
charging the passenger a fee in addition to the cost of the additional ticket described in subparagraph (E), if—
‘‘(A) the instrument is contained in a case or covered so as to avoid injury to other passengers;
‘‘(B) the weight of the instrument, including the case or covering, does not exceed 165 pounds or the applicable weight restrictions for the aircraft;
‘‘(C) the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the Administrator;
‘‘(D) neither the instrument nor the case contains any object not otherwise permitted to be carried in an aircraft cabin because of a law or regulation of the United States; and
‘‘(E) the passenger wishing to carry the instrument in the aircraft cabin has purchased an additional seat to accommodate the instrument.
 ‘‘(3) LARGE INSTRUMENTS AS CHECKED BAGGAGE.—An air
carrier shall transport as baggage a musical instrument that is the property of a passenger traveling in air transportation that may not be carried in the aircraft cabin if—
‘‘(A) the sum of the length, width, and height measured in inches of the outside linear dimensions of the instrument (including the case) does not exceed 150 inches or the applicable size restrictions for the aircraft;
‘‘(B) the weight of the instrument does not exceed 165 pounds or the applicable weight restrictions for the aircraft; and
‘‘(C) the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the Administrator.
‘‘(b) REGULATIONS.—Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary shall issue final regulations to carry out subsection (a).
‘‘(c) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The requirements of this section shall become effective on the date of issuance of the final regulations under subsection (b).’’.
(b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT.—The analysis for such sub- chapter is amended by adding at the end the following:
‘‘41724. Musical instruments.’’.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Learn Standard Notation The Easy Way: A Guitarists Guide

Guitarists, be honest. Are you terrified of giving up TAB? Are you dazed and confused by the very thought of having to read standard music notation?

The truth is most guitarists struggle with reading standard notation, and for no good reason other than lack of knowledge, or effort. TAB gives you only a fraction of the information that standard notation does, and with a little work on your part reading standard notation can become far easier than reading TAB. This excerpt shows some of the markings my students have been confused by.

Guitar_Notation_Example_1

  • Left Hand Fingerings: A composer/arranger or publisher will indicate which left hand finger they want you to use for most notes by placing a small number 0-4 above the note head. “0” indicates playing that note on an open string, while “1” indicates the left index finger, “2” indicates the middle finger, “3” the ring finger, and “4” being the pinky finger. In the rare instance where the thumb needs to be wrapped over the edge of the fingerboard to play a bass note, it’s usually indicated by a “T” under the note.
  • Right Hand Fingerings: Right hand fingerings are notated by italicized lowercase letters under the note head indicating which finger to use for plucking each string. Here’s what each letter stands for:

p – pulgar (thumb)

i – índice (index finger)

m – medio (middle finger)

a – anular (ring finger)

c – chico (little finger, very rarely used)

  • Left Hand Barre Indications: Occasionally it is necessary to barre several strings with your left hand in order to play a particular passage. This is indicated by a Roman Numeral which translates into the fret that needs to be barred, which in this example would be the V (5th) fret. You would continue to hold the barre until the bracket to the right of the Roman numeral ends.
  • String Indications: As you may already know, the guitar presents some unique difficulties when it comes to deciding where to play a particular note on a fretboard. The pitch produced by the open high E string can be played easily in 4 other places on most guitars, so how do you know where to play that E? Each string is numbered 1-6 from the floor up, with the string closest to the floor being 1, in this case the highest sounding E string we’ve been referencing. The number found encircled above the stem tells you the recommended string on which to play the given note. Sometimes a bracket is used to indicate multiple notes being played on the same string.

I would also recommend purchasing a basic classical guitar sight reading book to help you ease into playing in standard notation. I highly recommend Sight Reading for the Classical Guitar, Level I-III by Robert Benedict.  It’s truly the best method I’ve found for gradually weaning yourself away from TAB.

Start slow, and don’t allow yourself to be overly frustrated when learning standard notation. The advantages of being able to read far outweigh the time required to learn. And remember, nothing is easy at first. You’ll probably make mistakes from time to time, but so do the pros. Even Michael Jordan missed a dunk from time to time!

Discussion Question: What do you feel is the most difficult part of guitar notation?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.