Tag Archives: Guitar

Developing a practice plan

Way back, when I was practicing 4, 8, or even sometimes 12 hours per day, I used to write up these detailed practice plans to plan my practice time into the most efficient patterns possible. I’d break sections of music and exercises down into increments and plan for strict observance of frequent breaks and stretching to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.

These days, I’m lucky if I have a full hour on weekdays to practice, and weekends seem to be good for putting in a few serious hours in. Now that I’m back into a regular practicing habit, I feel the need to make sure I’m covering all the stuff I am able to in the limited time space. Enter the return of the practice schedule.

This tends to evolve from week to week, or even day to day. So it’s interesting to me that I record here what I’m doing now and see how it changes in a few months…

Double Bass

  • 10 minutes: Scales/intonation
  • 5 minutes: break
  • 20 minutes: Petracchi exercises
  • 5 minutes: break
  • 30 minutes: Excerpts (currently Dvo≈�√�k and Trout quintets, Rossini duo, and L’histoire du soldat)
  • 10 minutes: break
  • 50 minutes: Bach Cello Suite No.3


  • 10 minutes: Giuliani right hand exercises
  • 15 minutes: 100 Graded Classical Guitar Studies book
  • 5 minutes: break
  • 45 minutes: Bach Lute Suite in E Minor
  • 5 minutes: break
  • 15 minutes: Beethoven/Moonlight
  • 15 minutes: Flamenco

The lists are in order of priority and fail over: If I don’t have time to finish all of it, I still get some basic daily maintenance done. Let’s see how that works out for now…

Music Saturday

I’ve been getting more and more back into my music lately. Gone are the days where I could practice eight hours and still have time for rehearsals and performances, but I’m getting in a solid hour or two every day which is good to keep the fingers loose. In the case of the double bass, one really must practice at least a little bit of technique on a regular basis to keep up the minimum amount of left hand strength required.


I have blog’d on this before. Petracchi’s book Simplified Higher Technique is a really sensible approach to double bass technique I think. These exercises are digestible and worthy of daily attention. As Rodney Slatford notes in the introduction, exercises 2, 7, 8, and 17 should be your daily workout.

As if I had that much time. Day job aside, the trick with my practicing double bass is that I live in a condo, and the kids go to sleep early. The only good time to practice is during the day, when I won’t annoy neighbors or wake children. I need a basement…

ISB Convention

Speaking of Petracchi – the man is coming to do a recital and masterclass at the ISB convention in June. The schedule of events looks quite interesting. And I see old friend Paul Bresciani is doing a talk on audition repertoire. Wow – I’d love to sit in the back and heckle Paul during that spiel. I wish I could take a week off and disappear to that event, but there’s just no way. I have in-laws in town and major projects kicking off at work. Perhaps next time…


I’m making steady progress on the Bach lute suite in E minor, and my sheet music copy of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata 1st Mvt. finally showed up. I am working on transcribing some of Händel’s piano works into duos for two guitars. More on that process later as I figure out Sibelius.

The guitar practicing, by the way, is my answer to not being able to practice the double bass late at night. It’s quieter, and more portable. Gotta make do…

Pacific Collegium Concert

Here’s another shameless plug for the Pacific Collegium led by good friend Chris Kula, who are having another concert series with a June 3rd date in Oakland and a June 5th show in San Francisco. The program is entitled Couperin le Grand: Grand Motets – Sacred music of the French Baroque. Check them out. I am going to try to sneak out for one of these…

Chamber Music

I am finding damned near impossible to get together any groups to do the Dvorak quintet or the Trout. String players seem to be getting more and more scarce. I gotta figure something out here…


As The Slat Rat duly noted, I recently resumed posting after at least a month of nothing, and sort of light posting this year in general.

Part of the hiatus was due to the conversion process of this thing from my homegrown PHP/MySQL contraption to the ever-popular WordPress, a process that continues bit by bit as time allows. But probably a bigger factor was that I was practicing classical guitar every night instead of dicking around with my computer and studying geek books. I do that all day at work, so I think I just got fried doing it at home too, and needed to do something else. I have a master’s in classical music perf. for chrisssakes ��� sometimes I wonder what the hell I’m doing with the web stuff… 😉

What I’ve been practicing is Bach lute pieces, particularly the suite in E minor BWV 996 in it’s entirety, the prelude from the E major suite BWV 1006, and the fugue BWV 1000. And maybe some sightreading and a few √�tudes here and there.

I have not been practicing any flamenco. This guitar I acquired doesn’t have the right sound. I think of flamenco guitars as being best with a bit of a raspy, burly, and almost metallic sound, but this guitar has a pure and ringing tone that just doesn’t seem to resonate with the rasgueados. But it sounds damn gorgeous for the Bach. Maybe if I try some different strings though…

I also have not been practicing any double bass, save for my Thursday night rehearsals with the orchestra. But I’ve been thinking about practicing more double bass. Heh.. yeah that’s the ticket…

Last autumn I was playing quite a bit ��� again with the Bach; cello suite no.3, and some chamber music excerpts here and there like for Dvo≈�√�k, Prokofiev, and Schubert quintets.

God I love the Dvo≈�√�k… What a great piece. My good friend Shinji handed me a copy of his published transcription of the missing Intermezzo movement from this quintet, which was removed and reworked by Dvo≈�√�k into his Serenade for Strings Op.44. I think it sounds good with that movement left in to the quintet – gives it balance, and gives me more chamber music to play…

Well enough of this post. It’s time to go practice some more. 🙂


I have been itching to do this for months.

I have been without a classical or flamenco guitar now since my old beater was accidentally smashed by a drunken roomate back in Boston nine years ago.

Nine years.

Sure, I’ve played some guitar now and then on my old steel string, which is now on loan to my niece. And who can forget the festive drunken jam session with John in the Real Guitars shop in San Francisco right after our emancipation from Schwab?

But the reality is this: My first real formal one-on-one music lessons for any instrument was with a good old friend by the name of Chris Carnes, and we studied the spanish guitar. Chris was a virtuoso flamenco guitarist and a great historian of this genre of music. And while I spent years studying jazz guitar and classical bass, I always had flamenco in the back of my head.

Back in Boston when I was in college, I was often hired as a guitarist to go sit in front of the painting by John Singer Sargent called “El Jaleo” in the main foyer of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for fundraisers and other wine-and-cheese events. For the ambience. They ate cheese and ignored me mostly, but I got to sit in front of the most incredible painting I have ever seen and play flamenco guitar to it. So cool. Playing guitar is something that has been missed…

So today, finally, I marched myself down to the local Guitar Center (I don’t know any better… WTF?) and proceeded to find the nice little back room humidor where they kept all the nice classical guitars. I was definitely the only person in that room for several hours as the masses picked over the mass-market instruments outside. Nice place to practice. So I played every instrument in the room – from the $3,500 Ramirez instruments to the lowly little starter kits. I found a very nice Córdoba with gorgeous overtones, lively projection, and gorgeous pieces of wood on the top, back, and neck. Very comfortable to play, and a steal for the price they were asking. So now I own it.

I’ve been pulling out sheet music all night. Played my Bach Prelude and Fugue and my études by Sor and Giuliani, and tried to remember how to play Leyenda and Moonlight Sonata. And of course I brought out some old flamenco rasgueados to see if I still had the hands for it. Most of it is there, but it’s going to take work…