Pushing for high standards

I received this thoughtful and detailed feedback from Aaron Wolf in January 2009.

Aaron Wolf

Dear Peter,
I finally have had time to start into your book. I have some comments and questions:

The general focus is excellent, being holistic and modern and not mono-style.

The layout and wording are sometimes a bit random though. There are various odd typos or grammatical errors. (Note: this review refers to an earlier edition) I'm adding comments as I go:

pp.30, you omitted specific mention of the fourth obvious point of contact: the left leg.

PI: Good point!

pp.38, I can consistently and easily get the 8th partial to be audible and isolated from the low E on most any guitar, certainly on nylon string classic. And isolation becomes hard, but up to the 20th partial is clearly audible, and beyond.

I really love the section on looping and accent change, and you got the notation of accent right too (I've seen books just use accent symbols instead of the better rewriting around the bar) I've been teaching these techniques for a long time, but this is the first time I've seen a method book show them expressly.

The use of 5-finger right hand, especially with the Bach example is wonderful.

I also especially love the focus on stress and syncopation and the inherent difference being shown between accent versus stress.

Section 8.7.1, explaining tremelo, is wonderful, among the best and clearest I've seen.
PI: Thank you! I had observed many times over the years, guitarists playing tremelo without necessarily displaying much lot of understanding of the melody. Hence the explanation.

Are you aware of Charles Postlewaite's theories about 5-finger right hand?
PI: Yes, since about 1978!

He teaches a continous tremelo and actually plays without the break by using c along with the p bass note. I can't play that very well myself at this point, but it is possible.
PI: All those techniques are good. My intent with this book was to focus on the absolute basics.

The one-string scale concept is great. I have been using this for years. I expand it greatly though to teach all the concepts of possible scales and modes a la Indian music and modal folk tunes.

PI: Excellent! There is so much musicality to be developed while playing on one string.

The content in your book is excellent for what it is and adds some ideas to what I've been doing.

Also, I think "lethargic" is a very negative and inappropriate word for legato chords.
PI: I was trying to encourage two contrasting notions to begin with... you have to start somewhere! Energy and lethargy are two emotional states I felt teenagers would relate to perhaps!

Chords and Scales

I wish I could be more positive, but the whole ending section of scales and chords is very basic, nothing special and certainly biased toward the most traditional of classical theory and style, and it really is tedious and goes against your earlier point of playing music. Sure, the best expression can be applied to a scale, but scale after scale after scale? It is a bit too easy to just tell students to be musical, that's not really teaching much. There are more meaningful things for students to do, and if they really want to study scales, I've seen many resources that are both more in-depth and better presented than this.

PI: That particular format of scales has a couple of goals:

  • To provide an easy sequence intended to be played by memory.
  • Encourage, therefore the playing of the sequence in different keys, with modulations.
  • To cover all the basic configurations in 1 minute - Walk, run, sway (add skip by dotting the notes).
  • To join these configurations. Students often neglect the "joins"!
  • Use Tonic and Dominant Harmony only, and the melodic sequences which suggest such.
Depth was never the object. I myself also use much more complicated material than this, but this book is intended for the first couple of years of practice.

The bulk of the book is worthwhile, somewhat unique and definitely pushing for high standards.

Best regards,
Aaron Wolf
web: blog.wolftune.com

Guitar Playing and how it Works by Peter Inglis
Guitar Playing and how it Works