THE SAKARI METHOD For Classical Guitar                              

             "Perfect Your Passion"                                                  

"NOT TRUE - SAY IT ISN'T SO !"    A Closer Look at Some Popular CG Viewpoints

The following statements are from popular classical
guitar web sites out there that addresses CG topics
for the "beginner".  After each statement, I offer my response
based on my 40 years of experience with classical guitar
teaching and performing.  I call this my "NOT TRUE"
series and I think points out how poorly thought out,
empty, hollow and misleading  many statements from
some "experts" really are when it comes to advice.

Although on the surface, they are fun and encouraging
to read, designed to make you "hope" for quick and easy

There aren't any. 

"This is a very thoughtful and wise collection of responses to some 
painfully personal experiences I've had.  Thanks for the clear way you 
stripped away the obfuscation and revealed the truth."  ~  Jack T. from Layton Utah

"Wonderful article.  Boy, you hit the nail on the head with this one.
I wish I would have found you 10 years ago.  I might be a passable
guitarist by now.  I'll be 70 next year.  You always seem to have
a new insight on the classical guitar, and I thank you for that."  ~  Terry E. from Orlando Florida


From a Popular Classical Guitar Web Site: “The classical guitar is a difficult
instrument to learn how to play. It takes perseverance and a lot of practice but
with some practical tips you can make the transition from beginner to
intermediate very quickly.”

          NOT TRUE !  “Although the classical guitar IS a difficult instrument
          to learn how to play, no amount of practical tips will bring you from
          from beginner to intermediate “very quickly”.  Until you learn to control
          the fingers properly at the micro movement level, you will languish in
          the throws of beginner-dom forever !  Tips will only steer you in the
          direction of amateurish frustration by tricking you into thinking you are
          making progress when in fact, you’re not.”

From a Popular Classical Guitar Web Site: “Have Discipline - Decide in advance
what days of the week you can practice, pick a time and stick to it. Block out at
least one hour for each session. If you can do this at least five days a week your
ability with the guitar will advance very rapidly.”

          NOT TRUE !  One hour a day per week works for some people and not at 
          all for others.  Ability  NEVER advances rapidly on classical guitar.  The
          sooner you come to understand this, the less frustrated you will be with 
          this sort of false expectation.  Also, NEVER pick a time of day
          to practice and stick to it because each day can be so different in terms
          of motivation and energy levels, your progress will actually go backwards
          if you expect to “force” yourself to practice on a rigid schedule. 
          Practice when you feel motivated to do so and then you WILL make
          lasting progress.

From a Popular Classical Guitar Web Site: “Listen to the music - The biggest
problem for a beginner is the physical challenge of learning how to use your
hands and fingers; so almost all of your focus is on this. The intermediate
guitarist learns the finger position then focuses on how to play the music with
feeling. You should make this a priority early in your playing. One of the best
ways to do this is to run a tape recorder while you are playing then listen to it
afterwards. This way you can concentrate on how the music sounds without
having to focus on your hands.” 
           NOT TRUE !  First, a beginner hasn’t a clue how to “play music”, let
           alone “with feeling”.  There are no fewer than 25 musical interpretive
           skills and over 300 identifiable physical elements in combination to
           understand and be able to execute on the guitar that need to be
           practiced before  EVER attempting to even look at a piece of music. 
           Second, NEVER record yourself as a beginner unless you want to
           experience severe depression !  You won’t know what you are hearing or
           how to improve what you’re hearing.  I recommend the tape recorder
           only when you reach an advanced level of play, years down the line.
           Third, technique, when learned properly, reaches a point where one
           doesn’t have to focus on one’s hands.  It is only after this level of
           accomplishment that one can concentrate on how the music sounds, at
           all !  Only then use the tape recorder to iron out fine points and make
           qualitative decisions on  interpretations.

From a Popular Classical Guitar Web Site: “Establish a repertoire - You should
establish a set of pieces that you will memorize. This can be as few as five pieces or as many as ten. But you should decide that you will memorize these pieces and then you should practice them, with memorization in mind, at every sitting.”

          NOT TRUE !  Beginners should absolutely NEVER establish a repertoire !
          Beginners have no idea how to control all of the technical elements of
          playing skills required to play even the simplest piece of music.   So to
          even dream of playing 5 to 10 pieces from memory, with NO idea of
          “How” to memorize music, is simply the most misplaced advice I 
          have ever heard.  Attempting this will absolutely shock your hands and
          fingers into extreme tension.

From a Popular Classical Guitar Web Site: “Use Different Learning Techniques -
Everybody learns differently and we all have strong ways and weak ways of
learning. You should try different learning techniques and see which ones work
best for you. You also get the benefit of bringing a well-rounded approach to your learning.”

          NOT TRUE !  Beginners, again, don’t have a clue what issues they have to
          overcome in order to learn, so “different” techniques can enhance
          problems and create bad habits that WILL be painful to “Unlearn” later.
          There is no such thing as a well rounded approach to learning classical
          guitar.  Rather there should be only one extremely focused approach
          to learning each basic skill, one at a time, individually, before
          combining them into the skill we call “playing”.

From a Popular Classical Guitar Web Site: “Here are some different techniques
you should try:”

“Reading sheet music - This is a great, but slow, way to learn the language of
music and will over time dramatically enhance your ability to play.”

          NOT TRUE !  For Beginners, this is a TERRIBLE and agonizing way to NOT   
          learn the language of music and will actually “decrease” your ability to   
          play music.  With musical and interpretive elements to control, trying to control
          them while trying to get the notes out in a listenable time frame
          will only ingrain bad habits without even realizing it and create such
          frustration, I can’t tell you.
“Work  with an instructor - Some people establish a rapport with an instructor and do very well when they have someone they can ask questions.”

          NOT TRUE !  Most people go to an instructor hoping to have their
          questions answered and in reality what often happens is that the
          answers that work for the instructor don’t work for the student.
          But the student doesn’t realize that until later.  If anything one should
          work with as many instructors as possible find the truths that apply.
“Practice with friends - camaraderie is a great motivator. It will keep you playing.”

          NOT TRUE !  Although camaraderie is a great motivator, it isn’t for
          beginners.  Having several beginners offering their unseasoned advice
          to each other can cause more harm than good and can steer good
          technique into the realm of bad technique and confusion.  After all,
          we all want to believe our friends and if their observations are incorrect,
          much time can be wasted.

          Remember my caveat in the beginning.  If you REALLY want to play
          music, my admonitions here would be well advised.  If you just want to
          strum some chords or have a little fun on a Sunday afternoon with
          friends, all this may be very upsetting.

          I understand and my apologies to all the Sunday drivers out there.

“Purchase a book with a cd or dvd - Having the sheet music along with a video or cd that plays the music will engage more of your mental faculties at the same

          NOT TRUE !  I call this one Buying The Melting Ice Cream Cone.                
          Beginners should never engage more faculties at the same time.  There    
          is plenty of mental engagement just to play one open string with only
          one finger. Nine, to be exact ! Also, learning DVD’s usually teach a
          solution to a problem the beginner may not even have causing bad habits

“Download instructional videos - You may be a very visually oriented person and how a classical guitarist places his fingers may be an excellent way for you to learn.”

          NOT TRUE !  I have found that the person who “immediately” says they
          are a visual learner the very “instant” they hit a road block, are often
          fooling  themselves and looking for a crutch.  Learning to place fingers
          is individual and takes time to learn one’s unique way of coordinating
          finger and hand anatomy.  Looking at a model doesn’t help that process.

“Try learning pieces directly from music you hear on CD's - this is an excellent
but difficult technique. If you put some time into this your ear for the guitar will
improve dramatically.”

          NOT TRUE !  This is ONLY for advanced players and I am not sure of
          why one would even attempt it.  It is great for jazz improvisation, but
          does nothing for the classical guitarist.  If a beginner attempts to learn
          music from a CD the bad habits will compound so quickly and the muscle 
          tension increase so dramatically that some will think this state is            

“There are many ways you can quickly develop your skill as a classical guitarist.
The two most important things to remember are that you should have the
discipline to practice regularly and that you should try different techniques
because some techniques will work better for you than others.”

           NOT TRUE !  The Beginner should never dredge up the “discipline” to
           practice on a regular basis and never try different techniques.  One
          should always feel motivated to practice, even if it’s just once or twice
          a week and always stay focused on the simplest basic skills at first.

From a Popular Classical Guitar Web Site: “A Recommended Repertoire for the
beginner classical guitarist.”

“One of the most difficult things for a beginning classical guitarist is trying to find a repertoire that is not too hard to play but still sounds good and has a nice
variety of pieces.  Most pieces span quite a few different centuries and genres.
There are old pieces by Mozart and Bach, newer pieces by Beethoven and
Tarrega and pieces from traditional classical guitar to Spanish guitar. Learning
these pieces will give you a great standard repertoire that everyone can enjoy
even if they don't listen to classical music because most of the pieces are very

          NOT TRUE !  Beginners, buying piece of music is like buying candy in the
          candy store.  It makes you feel good when you eat it but then you realize
          the mistake when you get sick to your stomach.

          Never buy into the false hope of “owning” beautiful music and thinking
          you will actually be able to play it even close to adequate.  ALL music
          for the beginner is hard, if not impossible, to play.

          You’ll become frustrated and not really know why !

          And that would be a shame since learned properly, the classical guitar
          will provide years of true musical enjoyment for you and your family.

          If you’re a beginner, I hope you listened closely because I have  
          received hundreds, if not thousands, of e-mails from beginners who
          have fallen for the bad advice on some web sites and wasted years
          of time and not progressed at all.

          All they have to show for their time and trouble is shelf after shelf of
          expensive method books, sheet music and a beautiful guitar that sits and
          collects dust.


This ends the first in my series I call “Not True”.  I  hope you found the reason for
some frustrations that perhaps you have experienced for yourself.

Encouragement is important but it always must be centered around the truth and
NEVER sugar coated !

As always, good or bad, I love to hear from you !



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