Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Merrry Christmas - 2007

Below is a small gift from me to the guitarists who read this blog. I want you all to know how much I admire you. It takes courage to study music with love and faith - and even more so on an instrument which is as demanding as the classical guitar. Keep following your bliss.

The First Noel arranged for solo guitar (with video)



Thursday, November 29, 2007


"Those who have conquered doubt and fear have conquered failure"

James Allen

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

thought, word, deed

Pay close attention to the words and thoughts you use throughout the day.

Words like "I can't" or "I don't" (play well, memorize, learn fast, count well, get a good sound etc. etc.) will shut down your mind's ability to find answers. It will simply agree with you and prove you to be right time and time again.

Questions like "How can I?" or "What do I need to do?" (to play well, memorize, learn fast, count well, get a good sound etc. etc.) will open your mind to the solutions. Your subconscious will work on the problem for you and you will get the answers much more rapidly.

Remove "I can't" from your vocabulary - replace it with "How can I?"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Albert Fuller (1926 - 2007)

Albert Fuller, who was one of the most influential people in my life, died on Sept 22. I just read about his passing in the Juilliard newspaper. An obituary from the NY times is here

I met Mr. Fuller when I took his class on performance practice in 1992. Tyically, one would think a Juilliard class such as this would be centered around "what kind of trills to execute" and "which editions of Bach's works are the most authentic". However, I'm happy to report that his class had very little to do with any of that.

His lectures reminded us how magical the invisible world of music really is and how fortunate we are to study it. He encouraged us to use our imagination, to question authorities, and to create our own rules and lives. He wanted us to understand that the master composers were not just statues and chapters in music history books. They felt what we felt - they were warmed by the same sun, breathed the same air, walked on the same earth. They felt love and lust, joy and sorrow, victory and defeat. We are all one.

I was so taken by his lectures that I signed up for private chamber music coachings with him - and he let me take them as a solo guitarist. One day I played a Bach Largo for him in a rather dry manner. He stopped me half way through and simply said "think hand mic" and then sang the melody freely as a jazz singer would - pretending to hold a microphone in his hand. It might sound humorous, but I tell you that this one lesson changed my entire perspective on music.

Albert wanted us to think outside the box - and to realize that the box was put there by someone else. I'm very grateful to have known this man for even a little bit of time. May he be joyous.


I'm reading about Mastery and recently heard a lecture where it was broken down into 4 basic parts.


Discipline - Using the will to keep thoughts and actions on what you want - not on what you don't want.

Education - Learning for the joy of learning / being curious and open minded.

Unconditional Love - Loving something without expectations of future reward.

Surrender - Detachment from the outcome / freedom from worry and judgment

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

not giving up

It's painful to fail and it's painful to feel like you aren't progressing. Don't let that deter you. Failures can be amazing lessons which lead to much greater paths.

Read this and realize that everyone has these moments.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

the tree and the wind

In a time when man was yet to walk upon the earth, the world was ruled by the spirit of the wind. The spirit of the wind traveled though its lands and rejoiced in its possessions. It's favorite game was to blow strongly and force the trees to bend before it. One day it noticed that one small tree was not bending, but remained erect....

"How dare it" the spirit of the wind thought, and blew more strongly. The stronger it blew, the straighter the tree remained. Meanwhile, all the other trees snapped, one by one.

The wind flew into a rage and blew with all it's might. It's breath made the sand fly like birds and the birds drop to the ground. The rivers turned into rain and the earth was destroyed.

The small tree still stood it's ground.

The spirit of the wind contemplated what it had done and how it had destroyed everything it loved. Shaken, it stopped blowing.

At that moment, the small tree bent gently before it.

- anonymous

Monday, September 24, 2007

Admiration of the Students

As a teacher for many years now, I am always impressed with my older students. They are not children, where they are told by parents that the discipline of music study will do them good or because some report suggests that learning a musical instrument will make them smarter. These students are studying simply because they love it. As I have learned, love can transcend any logic or reasoning.

My older students are working at least 8-10 hours a day, they have families and other commitments, and yet still try to find time to learn the classical guitar. And I might add - this is not always a pleasurable study. The study of the classical guitar is demanding and can be frustrating. I've seen students weep over frustration, get angry, get depressed. I try to explain to them that the plateaus in study (and life) come frequently. We must learn to enjoy them as much as the climb. We must enjoy and travel on any plateau to eventually reach the highest mountains. Relax and know that those mountains will come.

classical guitar lessons, music and philosophies at

Thursday, September 20, 2007

video from nicaragua

an old video of me playing in Nicaragua....many fond memories of that tour.

classical guitar lessons, music and philosophies at

Saturday, September 8, 2007

the more you love something, the more it will reveal itself to you.

classical guitar lessons, music and philosophies at

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

slow practice

Many students practice slowly because they are afraid to make mistakes - but how else are we going to reach the tempo of a piece if we never practice it at the desired tempo? You can't learn to walk without trying to walk, or run without trying to run. Don't be afraid to fall down a couple of times. Make the mistakes and ignore them - enjoy the tempo instead. Do a little bit at a time, but get used to the new speed. We have to become conditioned to it.

classical guitar lessons, music and philosophies at

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Practice

"Let us not regret the past nor fear the future, but look around us - in awareness. "

Leland Val Vanderwal

classical guitar lessons, music and philosophies at

Saturday, August 25, 2007

video for "White Flag"

My group, electric kompany is currently looking to raise funds to create a video for the stunning anti-war piece by Jacob TV called "White Flag"

here's an mp3 of White Flag from a live radio broadcast

We are trying to raise $500 - 1,000 to create a professional video. Because of our membership with Fractured Atlas, all donations can be tax-deductible.

We would really appreciate your help with this project. It's important that people hear, see, and share this video on youtube, current tv, and any other video sites.

Feel free to email me if you have questions. Many thanks for your help.



classical guitar lessons, music and philosophies at

Friday, August 24, 2007

change when the music changes

I stress the importance of "changing when the music changes" to my students. This concept is a basic one for my own interpretive ideas.

If the change in the score is drastic, we should change something drastically in our playing. If it is a subtle change, the difference will be subtle. The question then becomes - how do we choose to highlight these changes? This involves musical and expressive techniques - rubatos, accents, color changes, dynamics, fingering choice, etc.

Many teachers stress listening to orchestra music. Why? Composers of the world change their orchestration (sound, dynamic, mood) when the music changes it's character. They highlight the change in the music by changing the orchestration. Again, it's simple and honest. Pay attention and you'll see what I mean.

The more we can notice the way music changes in our scores, the more we can highlight those changes in our playing and be more expressive.

classical guitar lessons, music and philosophies at

Thursday, August 16, 2007

online classical guitar lesson - 2

Lesson 2- Left Hand Preparation and Accuracy- Part 1

Many people think (I myself included at one time) "If I just repeat this hard left hand section enough times, eventually I will get it."

While repetition is important for building endurance, it is the wrong way to try to obtain left-hand accuracy.

The problem in a difficult shift, chord, stretch, etc. is not necessarily what you are getting to - it’s HOW you are getting to it.

The following is an exercise for Left Hand Preparation. Once the pattern is learned, it should be played on many sets of strings - for example - strings 1 and 4, 5 and 2, 6 and 3, 6 and 2 etc... It should be repeated without pausing about 10 times - then make sure you rest your hand.







The lines represent the strings - (top to bottom = highest to lowest), the numbers represent the left-hand fingering (you play two notes together at all times).

For this exercise to be really effective, you must make sure of a few things -

1. The left hand must prepare as soon as possible for the notes it will play next. This means - as you execute one pair of notes, you'll prepare completely over the strings and frets for the next pair of notes.

2. The exercises must be completely legato. Try not to have any spaces in the sound due to the left hand lifting off of the strings early - or the right hand putting its fingers down on the strings early.

3. The left-hand fingers must be placed down at the same time - not one, and then the other.

The point of this exercise is to get the left hand to start thinking (and preparing) ahead of itself. This small statement is the key to solid left-hand accuracy.

classical guitar lessons, music and philosophies at

Monday, August 13, 2007

Online Classical Guitar Lessons - Lesson 1

I created this blog to share my knowledge of classical guitar with my students and others interested in this art. I hope you enjoy them. I'll be creating and posting video lessons soon.....

Kevin Gallagher

Lesson 1 - Hand Coordination

One of the topics that is rarely discussed in classical guitar technique is true hand coordination. Basically, this means that when one hand moves, the other must move at the same time with the same speed.

On paper this seems easy, but it is rare to find someone with absolutely flawless hand coordination in their playing. Without proper training of this technique, the player will experience non-legato playing, clicks, and "ghost" notes from the lifting of the left hand too soon. These unwanted sounds are common among students of the classical guitar.

The following are 5 exercises that I use to improve hand coordination- repeat them on many different strings in many different positions.






These are left hand fingerings. The Right Hand should do ALL of the following fingerings- im,mi,am,ma,ami,ima,pm,pi.

The key is listening- when you play the exercise at a slow tempo- do you hear clicks? Do you hear a tiny space? Do you hear the left- hand lift before you play the right- hand?

In any of these cases it means that your hands are not totally coordinated! You have to move the right-hand fingers through the string at the same time your left-hand frets the string. Do not stop the string before you play it! The movements should be very fast and together- like a fine machine.

Once you start understanding this principle better- try to incorporate it into your pieces.

This technique is essential for good sound and rhythmic vitality for any style of music.

classical guitar lessons, music and philosophies at