Five Lessons Modern Guitarists Can Learn From 19th-Century Guitar Methods

This is a guest post by Daniel Nistico. Daniel is a passionate performer, teacher, and pedagogue who specializes in the performance practice of guitar music from the 18th and 19th centuries. His aim in teaching and research is to revitalize the concept of being a well-rounded musician. He emphasizes deeper interpretive understanding and tools for composing and improvising. Daniel has performed around the world, both as a soloist and in Duo Vela, with his wife and flute partner Marla Nistico. Daniel’s goal through performance is to spread greater awareness of the scope and expressive power of which the guitar is capable.

Many guitarists might be wondering if there’s any benefit to studying 19th-century guitar methods. Aren’t there plenty of modern method books?  Yes, there are great modern guitar methods, but none of them will take you into the mind of a 19th-century guitarist.

Studying 19th-century methods can dramatically deepen your understanding of the music of Sor, Giuliani, Carulli, and Carcassi, and make playing their music more fun!

Here are five lessons you can learn from 19th-century guitar methods:

My Top 10 Blog and Video Posts of 2016

At the end of the year is a natural time to look back and reflect. As each year comes to a close, I think about various areas of life, including what I post online.

When I create a new article or video, I invest time into making something that I believe will be useful and enjoyable to others. When I share each post, I can’t predict which one will be most popular.

But looking back, the numbers don’t lie. Seeing which posts were most widely viewed helps me create future posts that are especially helpful to people. Below is the summary of my most viewed posts of 2016.

How Do You Evaluate a Successful Musical Performance?

One of my students asked how he would know whether his musical performances were successful. As I reflected on his question, I thought about the many ways we can measure performance success.

How Did You Do?

You can evaluate factors such as accuracy of notes and rhythms. Effective use of expressive elements like dynamics and rubato. Appropriate tempo. Engaging stage presence.

How Did Your Group Do?

If you are playing in an ensemble, you can evaluate how well the ensemble performed together as a unit. Cohesiveness of musical execution, both technically and expressively.

How Did the Audience Respond?

You can measure how many people came. How much they clapped. What they said afterward.

I think these are valuable factors to include in evaluating your performance. But there are other types of questions.

We all have built-in guitar picks. Our fingernails. But how do you make sure yours are ready to use? Here are some tips for taking care of your fingernails and making sure the length, shape, and smoothness are the way they need to be.