The Practice Page


The Practice Page

A Concert For You

by Kevin Hart on 11/16/18

Here is a full concert by the wonderful Brasil Guitar Duo for you to enjoy.

Five Things That Have Helped My Practice

by Kevin Hart on 10/04/18

I’m always on the lookout for techniques, tips, and tricks that will help my practice time be more effective and efficient. Here are five that I’ve found useful lately.


  1. Buffing

Very often when we sit down to practice we take out our guitars and dive right in. Sometimes I find this quite frustrating after just a few minutes. My tone is poor, I have a difficult time getting the strings to respond (and they’re brand new!), my rhythm is off, and I just can’t seem to get things up to tempo. What’s wrong? My nails, of course!

Taking just a few minutes to touch up my nails with the buffer solves all of these problems. It also gives me the opportunity to do some listening and to settle in and focus.


  1. The Practice Mute

Recently I discovered a pretty hand little device called the Rosette Tremolo Mute. You can find it here. It allows me to practice without disturbing anyone. It cuts the resonance of the guitar so that I can hear my fingers attack on the strings and can play with greater accuracy. This helps with even tremolo and arpeggios. I even find that, after several repetitions with the mute, I can play a passage faster and more relaxed without the mute.

The mute fits under the strings near the bridge and is adjustable to accommodate a variety of bridge heights

.

  1. The Metronome (again)

Ahh, the metronome. Our best, and most honest, friend. A metronome has a way of point out lots of mistakes in a way that can’t be argued with. It can also help us to slow down. You know that you need it. Get it out, put it on your music stand, and use it. There you go. Now was it that bad?


  1. Recording

Recording yourself can be extremely helpful. When you listen back, you can hear errors that you weren’t aware of and come to the stunning revelation that you’re not as bad a player as you thought. The simple act of recording, I find, makes you listen more closely to your playing. It’s so easy, too. Most people have recording devices on their phones or computers now. Take advantage of it!


  1. Spot Practice

I know the excuse. I need to practice, but I just don’t have the time. Do you have five minutes? Of course you do. You just spent part of it reading this blog post! Next time, instead of checking a screen. Practice a small passage that needs your attention. How many repetitions can you get in five minutes? A lot, that’s how many!


If you have any helpful practice ideas, please share them with us. Just email me from the contact page. The same goes for any questions that you may have for The Practice Page.

Happy Practicing!


Time To Humidify Again!

by Kevin Hart on 09/13/18

The weather is drying out again in the northern hemisphere. Here in Wyoming it’s almost always that time!

We’ve talked about humidification before. This time I would like to give some specific product recommendations. I’ve been using these for a couple of years and I’ve had good success with them.

I’ve been very pleased with the D’Addario Humidipacks and the Humiditrak. The Humidipacks keep the relative humidity in the guitar and case at 50%. They are soft sided and won’t harm the instruments. To keep track of the relative humidity, the Humiditrak offers a Bluetooth hygrometer that you can access with your smartphone. The Humiditrak lets you monitor your guitars relative humidity and temperature hourly, or monthly. It has the added benefit of being able to track and record impact. This is a great bonus on those trips when you are forced to check your guitar with the airline.

Check out our previous post for more general information and on room and instrument humidifiers, and hygrometers.


Enjoy your practice and your time with your guitar!


Music!

by Kevin Hart on 08/23/18

Here is some music for you to enjoy as summer comes to an end. Enjoy!

Preparing for a Masterclass

by Kevin Hart on 07/13/18

Blog Post Masterclasses


Masterclasses are situations unique to music. They can be wonderful or they can be uncomfortable. I think that the key to have good experience is to be prepared.


  • Play music that you are comfortable with and have securely memorized. Your masterclass teacher isn’t there to help you with fingerings, notes, or rhythms. The teacher is there to help you understand the music and perform it better. As Dr. Suzuki said; “Raise your ability with a piece that you know.”

  • Have your music, a pencil, and a notebook ready. You could also ask the teacher for permission to record the lesson.

  • Make sure that your instrument is ready with new strings and is cleaned up.

  • Have your footrest or support on hand.

  • Be prepared to listen, learn, and to try new ideas that your teacher may have.

  • Listen closely to other students who are playing at the masterclass. You can learn a lot by observing your peers.

  • When you go home afterwards, practice the ideas that the masterclass teacher gave you right away. Share these ideas with your regular teacher.


Have a great masterclass, everyone!






Traveling With A Guitar

by Kevin Hart on 06/13/18


Here's a timely reprint:

It's summer, and many of you will be taking to the air in your travels. Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a musician like a cranky gate agent at the airport. But there’s no reason for you, or your beloved instrument, to stay home.

New TSA Rules for Musical Instruments

New TSA rules allow musical instruments that can fit into overhead bins to be allowed on board if there is space available when the passenger enters the aircraft. This does not mean that every instrument will be allowed. Be sure to be in the earliest boarding group possible for your best chances.

Instrument Care

It’s dry up here, even when it’s raining (or snowing!), so it’s a good idea to use a humidifier in your string instrument. Many humidifiers are available from your local music store or online. Please read the instructions that come with your humidifier, many should only be used with distilled water and not tap water. Check them regularly and make sure that you keep them filled.

Shipping your instrument

Think about it. How did your instrument get to you? More likely than not it was shipped to you, your teacher, or local music store. Here is a video about how you can make arrangements to have your instrument shipped to your final destination.

Accessories

Be sure to always bring extra strings with you. You can bank on breaking one the further you are from a music store on a Saturday night!




Music

by Kevin Hart on 05/03/18

As I've said before, a wise person once told me that websites about music should have some music on it. Here's some. George Sakellariou (the guitarist on the Suzuki Books 5-7 CDs) plays Tarrega on a beautiful instrument by Antonio de Torres from 1862. Often thought of as the Stradivarius of guitar builders, Antonio de Torres' innovations helped to define the modern classical guitar. The instrument has a sweet, velvety, rich, deep tone. (And, for those of you of a certain age, the Tarrega "Gran Vals" is where the Nokia ringtone came from. Listen.) Enjoy.

Finding Inspiration

by Kevin Hart on 04/02/18

I recently listened to an interview with pianist Randy Weston. (You can listen to it here.) The interviewer asked the 92 year old Mr. Weston if he was the type who began his day by playing the piano. To the interviewers (and my) surprise, Mr. Weston replied that, no, he did not. Rather, he began the day by listening to recordings of the masters who inspired him.


As I was having a difficult time beginning my own practice (I was, after all, frittering my time away listening to podcasts), I decided to give it a try. I put on a recording that has always inspired me. Sure enough, before the first track had ended, I found myself excited to take out my guitar and practice. What a good way to start the day.


The lesson here is simple: Listen to your elders. They may know a thing or two.

And, by the way, the recording was “The Art of Julian Bream”.


Humidifiers and Hygrometers

by Kevin Hart on 03/06/18

In dry climates or dry times of year, it’s important to keep our guitars hydrated.

There are a number of products available to help us in this important pursuit. We’ll look at a few of them in this post. We will also discuss a few good practices to follow.


Room Humidifiers


Keeping the room that you store your guitars and practice in is important. They come in a variety of sizes and price points. Look for the one that will humidify the square footage that you have. Keeping house plants or even open bowls of water can help in smaller areas, too.

Guitar stands or wall hangers are convenient, but should only be used temporarily. The best place for your guitar, while not in use, is in the case.


Instrument and Case Humidifiers


There are a great number of instrument and case humidifiers available. These are usually tubes of rubber, plastic, or fiber containing something to hold water, such as sponges, gels, or saturated salt packages. Sponge types in rubber tubes can come in contact with the interior of the guitar and cause damage. Hard plastic cases can be accidentally dropped and dent or crack the top of the instrument. Gel filled fiber tubes are easy to use and tell you by their shrinkage when they need to be refilled. Saturated salt packs are more expensive, but keep the relative humidity at just about 50% exactly (where your guitar is happiest) and avoid the problem of over humidifying, as well.


Hygrometers


Having a hygrometer is a good idea to see if a humidifier is needed and to make sure that the humidifier is working properly. Hygrometers range from simple dials to digital to Bluetooth enabled units that communicate with your smartphone. One thing to keep in mind about hygrometers is that they all have some degree of error and need to be regularly calibrated. Hygrometer calibration kits are relatively inexpensive and easy to use.


So, keep those guitars (and yourselves!) hydrated and happy practicing!


Summer Institutes

by Kevin Hart on 02/15/18

A great part of the Suzuki experience is attending a summer institute. It’s a great opportunity to learn from new teachers, make new friends, study in a new setting, and learn that you are a part of something larger than just our little studio.

Summer institutes happen all around the country and the world, so it’s easy to find one in an area that you may be already visiting, or would like to visit. Studying music in a new place can also be invigorating and refreshing.

Some summer institutes are just for guitar, while others include other instruments. Both models are exciting and valuable educational experiences.

Go to this websites institute page to learn more about the first ever Laramie Suzuki Guitar Institute.