10 tipps : classical guitar competitions

1.) Never bore the jury!

2.) Learn and practice at home to tune your guitar fast and precise
In times of almost invisible clip-on-tuners there is no excuse to play on a
desasterly tuned instrument

3.) Learn to adjust all your “tools” quickly!

Chair, supports, armsocks, pieces of leather, nobody wants to see a five minutes slapstick show!

4.) Dress with brain!

Meaning authentically, but visibly chosen with care. If your baggypants and sneakers are part of your established image that might work, but never forget: It is a stage and you are presenting always your attitude to what you are doing. And the jury has to watch you for sometimes many minutes! Also strange is evening makeup and long dress in the early morning, but the basic rule is: Better over- than underdress, it is your profession and you should show that you are a professional and that you understand the rules of stage.

5.) Respect the timelimits!
It is also not fun for the jury when they have to stop you! And those last seconds where you squeezed in a short piece will probably not change the judgement. So be honest when preparing: Add in your counting 30-60 seconds to each piece/ movement for adjusting yourself and the guitar, breathing, creating silence, then you will know the real length of your program (attention to points 2 and 3 on this list!)

6.) Choose pieces the jury might not know!

see point 1

7.) Choose pieces the jury knows!
it is easier for them to judge..

8.) Choose your free pieces in big contrast to the obligatory pieces!
The jury has to listen to the obligatory pieces dozen of times, so offer something not just different from the epoque but really different in mood ( see point 1!)
Or for the daredevils: make a homogenous “concept program”.., but think and don’t just play what you know well or what everybody plays.

9.) Don’t take it personal!
Results in competitions have always an aspect of luck: If you are an unknown top-player and you play first, you might not get highest points, because the judges need to keep some space left for the ones to come later. If you play after a famous competition monster you might get less points than you deserve. If you play after five desaster players you might get more points than you should get. Etc. Never forget: Judges are human beings – and they are trying to do their bests and to be fair and supportive to good music ( written with my personal idealism and sadly as unproven rumours say not always true…)

10.) Have fun!
The magic time in your life when you play competitions is challenging, you work like crazy, you meet wonderful collegues, sometimes you play terrible, sometimes perfect, sometimes you loose, sometimes you win, but as a musician you always learn so much: To perform under superpressure, to survive crazy travellings, to practice sensefully in a hotel where you hear 24/7 somebody else practicing the obligatory pieces, when to rest, when and how to work, how you should have prepared and how to prepare better next time .. and when to party!!!

social media suicide

It is a quite new phenomenon, collegues of mine closing their facebookprofiles…
No matter if you like the blue giant, one thing is right now fact( april 2013) : Facebook is mainstream!
Friends from school are there, all your family, maybe even your grandparents, collegues, business contacts, fans, it is wild heteregeneous mixture of contacts..
And all those who say: “oh, I waste to much time there”- who is forcing you to play games and watch every funny video flooding your timeline?
And of course, the big excitement about the possibilities of socialmedia is calming down to almost being bored, it has simply turned into a part of all our everyday lifes!

Today we are so many artists trying to find our audience and the habits have changed:
How many times in the last months did you really go to an artist’s homepage, just thinking: “Oh, let me check his/her news..”
-How many artist’s homepages have you subscribed with RSS or something similar and really read the feed?
-How many newsletters have you subscribed and do you really open and read?
-How many times do you check local newspapers for concerts?
-How many specialised magazine you really read?
-How do you find out about concerts in your region within a acceptable travelling distance not listed in your local newspaper?
-Okay, even worse question, do you read regularly a local newspaper?

These are all questions from the listener’s point of view– now switch to the artist’s view:
-How big is the part of audiencecontact you receive through your homepage compared to contact in Socialmedia?
-How many concerts offers come through your homepage and how many through other channels?
-How many people are in your newsletter list?
It is not the point that your “hardcore”-fans recieve the news, they will find out anyway… but how to reach everybody else?

Habits constantly change but nowadays it seems to be the rule that everything should be available with the smallest click number possible- meaning: offer the possibility for contact with you where the people are ( of course without agressive egospamming)!

And give yourself a “diet”:
1)Don’t watch every video
2)Don’t play games
3)Switch off chats/Skype
4)Give yourself permission for letssayforexample 30 minutes and really switch off after 40 minutes and go back to the instruments ( I use my practising breaks for internet)!
See Socialmedia also as part of your professional being, it is like booking etc a certain percentage of your life..

And then add freetime there just for fun and friendships!!!

musician’s mathematics

A fictional calculation:
If you want to survive let us say you need 42 gigs/concert a year ( not meaning feeding a family of four ) with average standard payment of small concert series and poor guitar festivals and not having the support of a major record company.
It is always something special if a presentor hires you every year,but sooner or later it turns into a rhythm between 2 and 5 years to return, so let us count with 3!
If you write 100 hundred canditures you will get around 70 times no answer, 3 YES, and the rest something between clear “no” and “let us stay in touch, maybe next year”
In my beginner’s years it was 90% with no answer!

So numbers:
42 gigs a year meaning 1400 letters ( 980 no answer)
In three years:
126 gigs meaning 4200 letters ( 2940 no answer)

Correct if my I calculated wrong… but for sure it means that you need a BIIIIIG adressbook!!
How many letter do you write each year?

Should a soloist play with score on stage?

It is an old discussion but in times where everywhere concerts are videotaped more active than ever:
Who in classical music has “permission” to go with score on stage?

First some words about the brain levels on stage:
1.Rallyedriver-modus: Your brain tells you exactly the next information, like the copilot in a rallyecar
2.Photographicbrain-modus: You visualize the exact score and play like if it was there and you are reading it
3.Jazz-modus: You know what sound is next and you find it like a great improviser,following you audiomemory
4.Dancing-modus: Your fingers learned a structured choreography and you just repeat it
5.Analytic-modus: You exactly know the structure, including the harmonic patterns
6.Alphawaves-modus: The music is just there, you just listen while your fingers move

The ideal is of course number 6, but many players are able to do great things in all of the other modes, so let us look at them closer:
Alphawaves-modus gets destroyed with score..
Difficult with score is the dancer-modus where you don’t need the visual control with score, but if the score is prepared right it can give you a lot of help to find the next “group of steps”, it is especially for guitar an important topic that the tabulature can be more important than the knowledge about the actual note you are playing – depending also on which styles of fingering you chose!
Number 1 ,2 and 5 are supported by the score!!
Number 3 just good if it helps you to remember the next sound!
And it is normal that for different types of repertory or your personal “daily shape” you choose or even sometimes switch between the levels hopefully without anybody in the audience noticing it..

It is one of the biggest part of stagefright that musicians fear to get lost, they can be blocked by this fear and the problem is immediately solved if they are allowed to have the score with them.
I experienced that when I have the score with me that I feel more freedom in interpretation when I am not on Alpha, but in all other modus, you can always discover something new in the score, the control part of your brain is free for phantasy

and it is like in school: the things you believe you want to write on the little paper you would love to have in your pocket exactly shows your weaknesses, so it is a great step in learning a piece to prepare your score- maybe to shorten it just to the parts you need or to choose senseful pageturning moments, mark important parts with coloured pencils etc , it shows you also where to add some extra work!

When I learn a new piece after writing the fingering it is the first task to learn a piece by heart, then I start to practice it ( My mantra: “Practicing means repeating the right thing”).. and then after endless hours I like to have the score somewhere with me on stage, it is like airbag, that one moment where you might need is worth having it with you- and there is a magic about it: When the score is there, I do not need it!!!!!!!!!!!!

classical guitar composers by date

I always wanted to have calendar like that and could not find it nowhere…so here it is!
Source is mostly Wikipedia plus some guitar dictionaries,please help me if there are errors or if I forgot a great guitar composer.. list will be updated!!

January
* 1.1.1796 Felix Horetzky
* 4.1.1882 Angel Barrios
* 5.1.1917 Reginald Smith-Brindle
† 12.1.1626 John Dowland
† 15.1.1949 Joaquin Turin
† 16.1.1853 Matteo Carcassi
† 18.1.1923 Alfredo Cottin
† 19.1.1830 Wenzelaus Matiegka
* 26.1.1907 Maria Luis Anido
* 26.1.1949 Jorge Cardoso

February
† 3.2.1882 José Broca
* 10.2.1770 Fernando Carulli
* 14.2.1778 Fernando Sor (?)
† 17.2.1841 Fernando Carulli
† 17.2.1883 Napoleon Cost
* 18.2.1882 Angel Barrios
† 19.2.1813 Leonhard von Call
* 20.2 1947 Carlo Domeniconi
† 20.2.1626 John Dowland ( funeral date)
† 20.2.1996 Tori Takemitsu
† 21.2.1848 Simon Molitor
† 22.2.1938 Miguel Llobet
* 28.2.1956 Nikita Koshkin

March
* 1.3.1939 Leo Brouwer
* 2.3.1913 Celedonio Romero
* 3.3.1891 Federico Moreno-Torroba
* 5.3.1887 Heitor Villa-Lobos
† 5.3.1953 Daniel Fortea
† 7.3.1916 José Ferrer
† 8.3.1983 William Walton
† 12.3.1950 Heinrich Albert
† 16.3.1968 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
* 17.3.1924 Stephen Dodgson
* 18.3.1835 José Ferrer
† 19.3.1767 Leonhard von Call
† 24.3.1916 Enrique Granados
* 29.3.1902 William Walton
* 29.3.1936 Richard Rodney Bennett
* 31.3.1776 Joseph Küffner

April
† 1.4.1580 Alonso Mudarra
* 3.4.1895 Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
* 4.4.1640 Gaspar Sanz
* 7.4.1886 Emilio Pujol
† 7.4.1858 Anton Diabelli
* 8.4.1784 Dioniso Aguado
† 24.4.1948 Manuel Maria Ponce
† 27.4.1860 Leonhard Schulz
* 28.4.1882 Daniel Fortea

May
† 3.5.1996 Dimitri Fampas
* 5.5.1885 Agustin Barrios
† 6.5.1872 Giulio Regondi
† 8.5.1829 Mauro Giuliani
† 8.5.1996 Celedonio Romero
* 9.5.1931 Jorge Morel
* 12.5.1805 Jan Nepomucem de Bobrowicz
† 18.5.1909 Isaac Albeniz
* 23.5.1912 Jean Francaix
* 29.5.1860 Isaac Albeniz

Juin
† 3.6.1849 Francois de Fossa
* 4.6.1774 Francisco Molino
† 4.6.1996 Maria Luisa Anido
* 11.6.1897 Alexandre Tansman
* 11.6.1880 Ferdinand Rebay
† 16.6.1840 Joseph Kreutzer
* 27.6.1806 Napoleon Coste
† 28.6.1979 Paul Dessau

July
* 1.7.1926 Hans Werner Henze
† 2.7.1844 Karl Ludwig Blum
* 6.7.1773 Wenzeslaus Matiegka
† 6.7.1999 Joaquin Rodrigo
† 10.7.1839 Fernando Sor
* 16.7.1870 Heinrich Albert
* 27.7.1781 Mauro Giuliani
* 27.7.1867 Enrique Granados

August
† 5.8.1877 Luigi Legnani
* 8.8.1945 Stepan Rak
* 16.8.1795 Heinrich Marschner
* 17.8.1806 Johann Kaspar Mertz
† 17.8.1944 Agustin Barrios
* 31.8.1775 Francois de Fossa

September
* 6.9.1781 Anton Diabelli
† 9.9.1856 Joseph Küffner
† 9.9.2003 Reginald Smith Brindle
† 12.9.1982 Federico Moreno Torroba
* 21.9.1805 José Broca
† 25.9.1997 Jean Francaix

October
* 2.10.1919 John Duarte
† 6.10.1870 Felix Horetzky
* 8.10.1930 Tori Takemitsu
† 11.10.1936 Antonio José
* 12.10.1686 Sylvius Leopold Weiss
† 14.10.1856 Johann Kaspar Mertz
† 15.10.1750 Sylvius Leopold Weiss
* 16.10.1878 Miguel Llobet
* 19.10.1955 Roland Dyens
* 25.10.1832 Julian Arcas
* 27.10.1782 Niccolo Paganini
† 27.10.2012 Hans Werner Henze

November
* 2.11.1901 Joaquin Rodrigo
† 2.11.1981 Jan Nepomucem de Bobrowicz
* 3.11.1766 Simon Molitor
† 6.11.1953 Ferdinand Rebay
* 7.11.1790 Luigi Legnani
* 11.11.1790 Joseph Kreutzer
† 14.11.1946 Manuel de Falla
† 15.11.1980 Emilio Pujol
† 15.11.1986 Alexandre Tansman
† 17.11.1959 Heitor Villa-Lobos
* 21.11.1852 Francisco Tarrega
* 22.11.1913 Benjamin Britten
* 23.11.1876 Manuel de Falla
† 27.11.1964 Angel Barrios

December
† 4.12.1976 Benjamin Britten
* 7.12.1957 Maximo Diego Pujol
* 8.12.1886 Manuel Maria Ponce
* 9.12.1882 Joaquin Turina
* 12.12.1902 Antonio José
† 14.12.1861 Heinrich Marschner
† 15.12.1909 Francisco Tarrega
* 18.12.1894 Paul Dessau
† 20.12.1849 Dionisio Aguado
* 22.12.1921 Dimitri Fampas
† 23.12.2004 John Duarte
† 24.12.2012 Richard Rodney Bennett

The typical day of a concert- or “Why do I do this???”

There is something like a hidden routine, so now I will describe a normal concert day with no far travelling:

9.30 alarm, put that early because I want to practise!

9.31 alarm moved to 10.30, practising is overrated, I need sleep

10.30 oh my god, do I really have to get up? Why do I do this? I don’t remember a single note.. I will just fulfill today’s contract and look then for substitutes for all other contracts for the future and do something sensefull with my life..

11.00 finally leaving bed, still not remembering a single note of the program

11.30 after shower etc breakfast with tea and internet- and panic in my head “Why do I do this???”

12.00 one run through the program, slowly, loud, with no musical expression, oh, my fingers know it!!!

14.00 pasta – or something similar with no knife needed

14.30 sleep- or trying to sleep

16.00 getting up, make-up, trying to choose a nice dress in which I can breath, driving, still not remembering a single note

18.00 checking the light, drinking coffee, eating apples, talking nonstop .. always with the question in my head “Why do I this??”

19.00 audience arriving, so going backstage, tuning the guitar 10 000 times

19.15 playing some scales etc, doing dancing exercises- and still not remembering a single note

19.29 OMG, now it is time, new emotion : I want to go on that stage and play!

19.30 greeting the people, still not remembering a single note – except the first chord!!!

19.31 playing that first chord… oh, my finger know how to continue- and now I am just listening to the music and time stops

after the concert: WHEN CAN I GO ON STAGE THE NEXT TIME???? I want it, I have the greatest profession in the world, I love it, life is wonderful- and this is why I do it!