Monday, October 27, 2008

Free classical guitar music gifts

God bless the guitarists on the internet - no other instrument has so many resources available to it because of their dedicated work. Students and others have been notifying me of wonderful, high quality free music sites in the last few months. As I become aware of more, I will post them here and at my website.

Here is the first - many thanks to Boris for letting me know about it. Enjoy....

Thursday, October 16, 2008


"You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety." Abraham Maslow

For many people the word "Risk" implies something negative. "I risk losing this - i risk losing that". We rarely see the word risk as a positive thing, but in reality we must all risk failure to grow. With all risk is potential reward.

We are genetically programmed to grow and experience new things - and this means risking pain. Is it not risky to learn how to walk, to ride a bike, to drive, to travel, to try new foods, to speak up, to meet new people, or to study music seriously? The risks in life are never ending. Why do we risk? For the expansion and growth of the experience.

In playing we want to risk often, because with risk comes confidence and freedom. In trying to play safe, we lose life in our playing. We may feel safety now, but we avoid our fear - so the fear keeps us playing safe. It becomes a never ending cycle.

It's important to notice your fear based boundaries, question them, and decide to push past them. That means playing faster than you may be comfortable with, learning something that is more challenging than usual, learning music theory, performing for others, working with other instrumentalists, deciding to record yourself, etc. Study one aspect of your playing that you shy away from and go towards it in some way - step by step. You'll see that as you go towards that which you fear, it will get easier.

You don't have to book a concert at a concert hall tomorrow, or decide to suddenly perform only challenging pieces. Take some small steps towards that which you want. With time, the small steps will accumulate. Will it always work out the way you want it to? Maybe yes, maybe no - but that isn't the point. The point is to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. This is where true growth lies.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wanting vs Having

Over the last 2 years I've emphasised how important it is to visualize. The inner vision must be clear if we want to alter any present unsatisfactory results. In the mental sciences, it's often said that one must "have something before one can get something" - in other words, you must have it in the mental/spiritual world before it will manifest for you in the physical world.

Most of us fall into the trap of mentally "wanting" something as opposed to "having" it. If you think of your playing (or life) in terms of "wanting" to get better but don't ever see yourself playing or living in that way, then you are communicating to your subconscious mind that you don't "have" it - and that means, you probably won't get it on the physical plane.

If however, you visualize yourself playing the way you want to play regardless of the present circumstances, see it in the present tense, feel the sensations of playing well now, then you begin to "have" the idea. The subconscious mind will start to act on that image and help you create it on the physical plane.

Remember that our relationship with the guitar has been entrenched into the subconscious mind over many years. Changing the programming of the subconscious takes time and discipline - it's a muscle which must be exercised as any other.

For the next 90 days, when you wake up (before you read the news or talk to anyone), take 15 minutes to visualize how you really want to play. Make the image as detailed as possible - feel the strings with both hands, notice the lighting in the imagined room, listen to the sound, see the audience enjoying your playing, feel the fluidity of the hands and body, notice how good everything feels and how free it is.

Keep thinking about how well you are playing in this imagined scene. You can use affirmations as well such as - "My technique is fluid and effortless", "I'm playing with ease and beauty", etc. It might feel like a lie at first, but keep doing it regardless. You just need to get comfortable with this new idea.

Make sure you feel as if it is happening NOW - not in the future, but right NOW. I can't emphasise this enough. You have to feel and see the image NOW for the subconscious to "have" it. Do this same visualizing at night before bed. Remember to make the image as detailed as possible and feel how easy and beautiful your playing is in the NOW.

Also, use the amazing resource of youtube to watch great performers everyday. You don't have to watch many - even one or two favorite performances will do. Notice how the performer plays and imagine what that would feel like - again, in the NOW. Don't let your mind tell you "I can't do that" - just observe and imagine what it would feel like to play that way with your hands. During the day, let these thoughts simmer inside you. You don't have to force the thoughts - just let them come when they come and enjoy them while they last.

Lastly, have faith and expect what you imagine to begin to come. Look for results, but with patience. Ideas are mental seeds, and all seeds have a gestation period. The seed grows roots (the unseen part) before it grows into the tree (the seen part).

Do this mental work for 90 days - let's say until Jan 1, 2009. I guarantee you will start to see results if you are faithful. You will gain new insights, and notice techniques you've struggled with will suddenly start to come. This is the power of the subconscious mind. We really do create our world.

Monday, October 6, 2008

the great Shawn Lane

Rarely do I write about electric guitar on this blog, but Shawn was such a channel of beauty and encompassed many of the things I think about - clarity of vision, creativity, and efforless motion.

Most guitarists are impressed with his speed (obviously) but I find inspiration in watching his natural movement. Notice in this video how the energy flows to and from his fingers. He's simply moving them effortlessly - there's no ego involved, no trying, and no doubt.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New Youtube Channel

I've decided to create a Youtube channel specifically for demonstrating techniques and ideas for classical guitar -

It will be sort of like a video masterclass series available for free. I'm going to document as many of my ideas as I can over the next few years.

I'm not sure when I will upload videos, but I'm shooting for once a week - once my life calms down a bit. The first video is a demonstration of counterpoint on the guitar.