Pesky Passage Problem Solving for the Classical Guitarist – Saturday January 7th

Have you worked a passage to what feels like a satisfactory level only to return the next day to find it still problematic? Or, have you ‘mastered’ a passage in practice only to find that it falls apart in performance? Often how we feel we learn best actually produces little if any results, resulting in long term frustration.

I’ll be holding a one day informal workshop on problem solving for those pesky passages that take a 20141011-_MG_3144little extra work to master. This free workshop will take place via SKYPE only on Saturday, January 7th from 2:00-3:30 PM PDT. Performers and auditors will be chosen on a first come first served basis.

The workshop will consist of a few performers who’ll share passages that have proven difficult to master. We’ll learn to first identify the passage’s problem, then its solution.  Finally I’ll assign a series of exercises, (using the passage in question) that will help to overcome the problem posed. In the context of that last point we will also be discussing new principles of how wImage 5-23-16 at 10.21 AM copye learn best using a practice format that causes the brain to work fast and hard, (and seemingly in a semi-confused state) resulting in more long term success, in less time and with less effort.

The playbagiiier who applies the concepts learned in this workshop should find him or herself progressing quickly. All levels of players and repertoire will be accepted. The only pre-requisite is that you have the piece memorized and that you share the passage (via PDF) with us in class. So whether its a simple Aguado study or one of the Walton Bagatelles please join me with your pesky passage problems.

Auditors and performers alike will benefit. If you are interested in attending the workshop please send me an email stating whether you want to be a performer or an auditor. In addition you’ll need to have established an account with Skype.

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Portland Classic Guitar Presents Scott Kritzer in Concert Dec 9 (sold out) & 10

Portland Classic Guitar (PCG) is proud to present classical guitarist Scott Kritzer, appearing in 20141011-_MG_3077concert on December 9 and 10, at Marylhurst University’s Wiegand Hall. The December 9 concert is already sold out, and the December 10 show has been added to meet demand. On the program are works by JS Bach, William Walton, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Sylvius Leopold Weiss, and others. Mr. Kritzer will preview this concert on 89.9 All Classical Portland’s “Thursdays @ Three” program on Thursday, December 8, at 3 p.m.

Mr. Kritzer, known for his musical sensitivity and technical excellence, has been actively touring for Scott Kritzer, Guitaristover three decades and across two continents. His performances have been hailed in cities such as Frankfurt, Munich, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver (British Columbia), and Sapporo (Japan), and he has given critically acclaimed debuts at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall and London’s Wigmore Hall. Bernard Holland of the New York Times writes that Mr. Kritzer’s performance of Bach creates “an inner life,” while London-based Classical Guitar Magazine calls him “a guitarist in the best modern American mold.” Closer to home, Willamette Week describes Mr. Kritzer as “a champion of living American composers,” and he is a frequent guest on the Portland, Oregon radio station, All Classical Portland. In 1996 Mr. Kritzer was chosen by Senator Bob Packwood to represent the state of Oregon in a performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

ScottTomA graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Mr. Kritzer studied with one of Segovia’s favorite students, Michael Lorimer, for whom he also served as an assistant in a year-long master class held in North Carolina. In the decades since, Mr. Kritzer taught at both Reed and Lewis & Clark colleges and currently teaches out of his private studio in Beaverton, Oregon. Many of Kritzer’s own students have gone on to win regional, national, and international guitar competitions, and to attend such notable institutions as The Julliard School, the Royal Conservatory of Music in London, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Mr. Kritzer has released two celebrated solo recordings (Romance for Guitar and A Classical Guitar Christmas) and two marvelous collaborations with soprano Janet Chvatal (In the Blue Hour—featuring the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Munich—and Songs of the Americas). He has performed as soloist with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, the Oregon Ballet, and multiple chamber orchestras and string quartets throughout the Pacific Northwest. He has also served as performer and Artistic Director to Portland’s Third Angle New Music Ensemble.

Wiegand Hall is located at Marylhurst University: 17600 Pacific Highway, Marylhurst, OR (97036). To order tickets (which are priced at $32-37), call 503-830-1417, or visit

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All Classical Portland presents Thursdays @ Three with Scott Kritzer

[Please note: All in studio seating has been reserved – no seating available]

Each week, All Classical Portland presents Thursdays @ Three, a live broadcast concert showcasing local musicians, arts partners, and visiting artists.  Senior Announcer Robert McBride hosts the lively format of music-making anSenior Announcer Robert McBride with Senior Guitar Player Scott Kritzerd conversation for the radio listening audience – you can stream from anywhere – and members of an intimate studio audience. Live Studio Audience Reservation

Thursdays @ Three concerts are broadcast live and in real time from the studios of All Classical’s Hampton Opera Center, and programs last about an hour. This is my third appeimg_0753arance on Thursdays @ 3. For this appearance I’ll be previewing music from my upcoming performance for the Portland Classic Guitar Series with works by Bloch, Bach, Walton, Gaultier and others. If you would like to join me as a live studio audience member open this link (Live Studio Audience Reservation), and select the Sign Up button at the bottom of the December 8th event listing.  Each of my appearances have sold-out so sign up early.  You can also listen live by going to All Classical 82013 Thursdays @ Three Appearance9.9 KQAC and choose the Listen button. (Archived performances are also available for a few weeks).
For tickets to my Friday, December 9th performance go to Portland Classic Guitar.

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The Times Article – by Ravleen Clark



While all his high school classmates were listening to Led Zeppelin back in the early 1970s, Scott Kritzer was listening to “Five Bagatelles,” classical compositions for the guitar written by William Walton.

Kritzer picked up the guitar at age 9, and after a series of short, intense lessons from his older brother, began buying songbooks and working through collections of music: folk guitar, rock guitar, jazz guitar.

“I had exhausted most of that music,” said Kritzer.

But when he happened upon classical guitar music at a concert, he saw infinite possibilities.

“I just saw a great, fertile place where I could keep exploring,” he said.

None of his fellow students at Tigard High School (he graduated in 1973), where he was a football star, knew he played music.

Kritzer, who lives in Beaverton, is a renowned classical guitarist who has played all over the world, including at Carnegie Hall in New York.

But when he was 18 years old, he faced a crossroads when he made the bold decision to pursue music education after high school.

“I announced it to my previously supportive parents and they flipped,” said Kritzer, who turned down a football scholarship, moved to California and began working to save money to attend the San Francisco Conservatory.

Eventually, he became a student of Michael Lorimer, who was a student of Andrés Segovia — considered by many to be the founder of the modern classical guitar movement.

“It’s kind of nice to be a part of that lineage,” said Kritzer.

Kritzer moved back to the Portland area in 1980, and taught at Lewis & Clark College and Reed College for years before settling into private tutoring.

Over the years, he’s continued to tour all over the world, playing his repertoire of Baroque, Spanish and contemporary pieces, often translated for the guitar from other instruments.

“The music, it speaks differently on the guitar,” said Kritzer. “There’s a natural intimacy.”

Classical guitar marries and muddles the line between the street and the chamber hall, between a “popular” instrument of the masses and an “elite” genre of music.

“We can play James Taylor and we can play Bach,” said Kritzer, describing the guitar’s mobility and versatility.

With the angle of his wrist on the wood and the stroke of his fingers on the strings, Kritzer draws out a wide, exquisite tonal range.

“You feel like you’re a painter with a palette for 50 different colors,” he said.
screenshot-2016-10-06-12-17-01Sitting in his small home studio that opens up to a verdant yard, Kritzer demonstrated the colors he could evoke with different musical phrases.

“You can take your right hand and move it down towards the bridge of the guitar, and when you play down there, the sound is real brittle, and bright. It has a real distant … sound to it,” said Kritzer. “If you bring your hand to the opposite side of the guitar, it is a rich, warm, beautiful sound.”

Kritzer owns only one guitar, custom-designed by renowned maker Jeffrey Elliott, and has played it since 1989.

“Because these things die out. If you don’t play these guys for a few weeks, the wood stops moving. It needs to be exercised. It likes to be talked to, you know?” said Kritzer.

The guitar’s materials, a combination of European spruce and African blackwood, make all the difference. Whenever Kritzer has a few minutes to spare, he picks it up.

“I’ve held this thing in my lap more than I’ve been married, more than my kids have been alive,” said Kritzer. Playing the guitar “got me through puberty, through a divorce.”

While he admits that it’s hard to stay away from his guitar, Kritzer admits that sometimes, distance is what he needs to really understand a piece of music.

He spent several afternoons this month sitting in his garden, practicing pieces on a keyboard.

“I realized things like, ‘I didn’t know that voice was there,’ or ‘that doesn’t sound right,’” said Kritzer. “The translation can be effective if you take yourself out of playing it all the time.”

To this day, Kritzer finds himself breaking new guitar ground — all thanks to teaching.

“I’m out there kind of swatting the bushes in the trail, then I take my students and that’s how I teach,” said Kritzer, who explores new concepts with those learning from him. “I don’t know if I could play without teaching.”

Kritzer has spent the past 12 years developing his signature method and writing a technical guide to impart his knowledge, which will soon be published online. Students master hand positions and movements, then learn to “let go” during performances.

“When you can learn to completely relax your hand, the conduit of music opens up to a much broader spectrum,” he said.

Some of his students have performed during a “Fireside Chat” series, informal gatherings that Kritzer holds at Beaverton First United Methodist

Church every month for guitar enthusiasts and the public to share music and ask questions.

At the next event, at 7 p.m. Oct. 6, the theme will be “What Makes Baroque Music Baroque?”

“I thought it would be nice to build community here,” said Kritzer. “(Beaverton) seems like a community that is ripe, artistically and culturally.”

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Upcoming Events

Lots of upcoming events – this is just for the rest of the year. 2017 is equally busy! Performances from the stage, radio, master classes and ensemble offerings. You can try to read the board or just check out my sidebar!


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Guitar Salon with Open Mic featuring Classical Guitarist Scott Kritzer

Scott Kritzer brings decades of performing experience to a series of performance demonstrations ScottKritzer3
called Fireside Chats to be held in the Beaverton First United Methodist Church’s Fireside Room. Kritzer, who often engages his audiences in concert, will discuss the stories behind the music in a friendly, informative and entertaining style.

And prior to each ‘chat’ there will be time for localclassical guitarists to perform. So whether you’re a player or someone who simply enjoys the classical guitar please come and enjoy the evening.

The Fireside Chats are held the first Thursday of each month at the FiresideRoom at the Beaverton First United Methodist of Oregon (across the street from the Beaveimg_6602-1rton MaiBeaverton located at 12555 SW 4th Street in Beaverton, n Library) from 7:00-8:30 pm. These chats are free and open to the public but room is limited so you’ll need to RSVP. (See below).

If you’re interested in performing  please R.S.V.P. me at by the 1st Tuesday of each month.  So, invite your friends, bring along your guitar or just come and enjoy!


KönigstraumScott Kritzer has demonstrated his musicality and commitment to technical excellence in concert halls in San Francisco, Frankfurt, Vancouver, B.C., Los Angeles, Sapporo, Washington, D.C., and Munich, including in critically acclaimed performances in New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall and Wigmore Hall in London. In Classical Guitar Magazine, Colin Cooper wrote of Mr. Kritzer in his Wigmore Hall debut: “a guitarist in the best modern American mold.” New York Times critic Bernard Holland wrote of Kritzer in his Carnegie Hall debut that he is “an intelligent and self-assured musician with a sure technique and a deep musical sensitivity.”

Kritzer graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where he studied with favorite Andres Segovia protégé Michael Lorimer.

He has released a number of recordings:  Romance for Guitar and A Classical Guitar Christmas and in collaboration with soprano Janet Chvatal:  In the Blue Hour , and Songs of America.  He has performed as soloist with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, the Oregon Ballet, and with multiple chamber orchestras and string quartets throughout the the Pacific Northwest.

Kritzer has been featured in guitar magazines published in the US, London, and Japan, and is a frequent guest on the Portland-area radio station KQAC, All Classical Portland.

In addition to maintaining a busy concert schedule, Kritzer is a highly sought-after instructor.  Many of his past students have won regional, national and international guitar competitions, and have gone on to attend such notable schools as The Julliard School, the Royal Conservatory of Music in London, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

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Performance Anxiety Rehab Workshop with PAR PODS Begins September, 2016

I’ll be offering my popular Performance Anxiety Rehab Workshop beginning September 10th, 2016 and continuing on September 24th, October 15th and 29th from 2:00-3:30 pm PDT with PAR PODS to follow throughout the remainder of the year.

Performance Anxiety Rehab (PAR)

Nearly every performer, amateur to professional, suffers from some level of performance anxiety. If IMG_1294you’ve performed I’m sure that you’ve experienced it as well. One of my class participants once described performing “…as a burning staircase that I must ascend.”  The anxiety that accompanies our performance robs us of our potential. It affects how we play and ultimately how we are perceived as performers. While performance anxiety is a natural result from the fear of public embarrassment its affects can be minimized or entirely overcome.

Scott Kritzer, GuitaristAfter almost four decades of performing and teaching experience I can say that these tools have all but eliminated the effects of performance anxiety from my performances. My workshop participants have had similar results. I used to dread performances, big and small. I tried a lot of the standard ideas but they either didn’t work or made it worse. This often caused unwanted physical reactions on stage resulting in mistakes and frustration. After one particular performance I decided I would either conquer this demon or quit. The result is what I call Performance Anxiety Rehab.

Each class will begin with a short lecture after which I’ll work with each student. At the end of each class participants will get detailed written instructions and practice assignments. Students will be encourged to interact with one another by sharing their questions and comments on my FORUM. I will be available to personally answer questions as well.


The skills and concepts that you learn in PAR must be further developed beyond our four classes. PAR PODS are quartely meetings of PAR participants. These meetings will be scheduled once per quarter for one year and will consist of your performances, participant observations and comments. And we can all stay in touch in between meetings by visiting the FORUM.

Class Requirements

IMG_5554The PAR workshop is available to students of all levels and is open to all instrumentalists, whether you’re a professional, an aspiring professional or someone who wants to play at an open mic. The only requirement is that each participant be able to perform 2-3 pieces of any level from memory. Feel free to bring your shaking hands and shallow breathing, we’ll take care of you here in PAR.

PAR is available in person at the Kritzer Studio and remotely via SKYPE. There are a limited number of spaces available. All classes take place from 2:00-3:30 PDT on September 10th, 24th, October 15th and 29th, 2016

Class Overview

Class 1 – Changing the Rules

In this first class we’ll set the foundation for a new set of rules for performing. We’ll learn to alter the conditions that cause us to lose so much of our potential in performing. We’ll also learn to avoid many of the concepts taught to help with performance anxiety that either don’t work, or make the problem worse. In addition we’ll begin to develop a ‘performer’s’ mind in practice.

Class 2 – The Practice Directives for Performance Anxiety

We’ll learn the three most important Practice Directives that will help to eliminate the interference performance anxiety causes. To enable you to integrate the practice directives learned in class there will be a two week break between classes 2 and 3.

Class 3 – Imagination

Learn to use your imagination and allow for your creativity to aid in not only combating performance anxiety but to discover new musical ideas.

Class 4 – Integration

Our final class will put the finishing touches on the concepts learned and how to continue to creatively develop your performing skills through what I call PAR PODS. PAR PODS are comprised of Performance Anxiety Rehab Workshop participants that meet quarterly (every 3 months after the final class) to help continue developing the tools learned in PAR.


The cost of PAR is $150 which includes four PAR Classes and 4 PAR POD Meetings to take place throughout the year. To register or for questions please contact me by email at

Class Size:

6-8 participants


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Monthly Master Class January 21, 2:00-3:30 PM SKYPE friendly

Monthly Master Class Groups are a unique form of semi-independent study for the student of the classical guitar. Perhaps you’re too busy for weekly lessons and the practice time that comes with that
commitment. Or perhaps you can’t afford the cost of private lessons. With my monthly Master Class both performers and auditors will get clear practice directives that help insure motivated and disciplined practice sessions between our Monthly Master Classes. And participants can stay in contact through my Forum – reporting on progress and offering observations throughout the month.

OImage 5-24-16 at 12.47 PM copyur Monthly Master Classes will consist of 3 performers (there can be different performers each time) and up to 4 auditors. Both performers and auditors can be local or remote students. I’ll be keeping the classes small to allow for more attention to each participant. My hope is that each class consists of the same core people, month to month.

I’ll work with each performer covering topics from Image 5-23-16 at 10.21 AM copytechnique, performance anxiety, practice directives, or effective ways to practice. In many cases I’ll be able to provide you with written and video support materials to support what was covered in class. While these concepts will be directed towards the performers the auditors will be encouraged to choose 3 ideas covered in the master class to work on for the following class.

The 90 min class will include a 15 min introduction which consists of student news and updates on how things progressed over the previous weeks. Then we will proceed with 3 performers. Finally the class will conclude with a 15 min Q & A and assignments will be confirmed. I’ll encourage you to check in and report on your progress in my Forum.

How to Register

Simply contact me and I’ll let you know when the next Master Class is scheduled. The classes will be held on Saturdays (individual dates to be determined) from 2:00-3:30 pm. Performer fees are $45 and auditor fees $20.

If you want to know more about how to prepare for a Master Class please see my article This article will be helpful for both performers and auditors.

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Classical Guitar Immersion – June 16th-23rd, 2017 in Corbett, Oregon

Classical Guitar Immersion – Performance Development

June 16th-23rd, 2017
CGI is an immersion experience where 7 guitarists join for a week of performance preparation on the historic Columbia River Gorge at the Menucha Retreat and Conference Center in Corbett, Oregon.

Group pictureIn this close and intimate setting students get personal attention through daily masterclasses, ensemble rehearsals and performance workshops where technique, practice concepts and performance skills including the tools to help eliminate the effects of performance anxiety are explored. In addition to the scheduled workshops friendships are developed through informal discussions around the dining table, morning coffee iIMG_0015n CGI’s large private kitchen, on walks around the beautiful grounds or at the outdoor fireplace that overlooks the historic Columbia River Gorge.
CGI is more than a week workshop but rather the culmination of months of direction to help in your preparation. Every two weeks, beginning in October 2016 you’ll be sent new practice directives to apply to your pieces. I’ll request a video of one of those works every two weeks to help monitor your progress. Occasionally we’ll all meet on SKYPE and of course we’ll be communicating via my forum.

By rotating through a series of practice directives you’ll be better prepared for the week where you’re playing will peak as we work on performance preparation.

Our preparation Schedule looks like this:

  • Solo and Ensemble Repertoire chosen (September)
  • Tone and Range of Motion (October-November)
  • Technical Practice Directives (December-January)
  • Musical Practice Directives (February-March)
  • Memory Practice Directives (April-May)
  • Performance Practice Directives (June)

The daily schedule includes two master classes, ensemble rehearsal and performance or technique classScott & Charlie as well as open time for practice and even exercise time. Review the video of your lesson, praScott & Charliectice and take a walk around the trails, shoot some hoops, play tennis or swim in the pool overlooking the gorge.

Three meals are provided each day in Wright Dining Hall. Special diets are available upon request.

All classes take place in Creevey Hall, a large teaching room attached to a large kitchen where personal food items can be stored.

Each participant will have a private room and bathroom with shower.

All levels are accepted at CGI. The only requirement is that each student must be prepared to play at least two works, one from the study repertoire and one from the general repertoire from memory and the required ensemble piece from score. We will perform our final concert on Thursday, June 22nd in our own Creevey Hall. Guests from the community and Menucha Retreat Participants will be invited.

In addition we will be working on ensemble music, some of which will be part of our final concert.

CGI Hand Stretches and Body Movement
In an effort to combat muscle and mental fatigue I’ll be teaching you hand and arm stretches. We’ll also learn a series of short functional movements that will not only help revitalize the back and shoulders but also reset the negative affects of sitting.

Friday, June 16th

1:00-3:00 Portland Airport Arrivals and Pick-ups
4:00-5:00 Check-in
5:00-5:30 Orientation
5:30-7:00 Scott Kritzer in Concert
7:00-8:00 Dinner



Saturday, June 17th
8:00-9:00 Breakfast
9:30-11:30 Master Class
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-3:30 Open
3:30-5:30 Master Class
6:00-7:00 Dinner
7:00-8:00 Ensemble Rehearsal
8:00-8:30 Performance Workshop

Sunday, June 18th
8:00-9:00 Breakfast
9:30-11:30 Master Class
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-3:30 Open
3:30-5:30 Master Class
6:00-7:00 Dinner
7:00-8:00 Ensemble Rehearsal
8:00-8:30 Performance WorkshopIMG_0025

Monday, June 19th
8:00-9:00 Breakfas

9:30-11:30 Master Class
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-3:30 Open
3:30-5:30 Master Class
6:00-7:00 Dinner
7:00-8:00 Ensemble Rehearsal
8:00-8:30 Performance Workshop

Tuesday, June 20th
8:00-9:00 Breakfast
9:30-11:30 Master Class
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-3:30 Open
3:30-5:30 Master Class
6:00-7:00 Dinner
7:00-8:00 Ensemble Rehearsal
8:00-8:30 Performance Workshop

IMG_2211Wednesday, June 21st
8:00-9:00 Breakfast
9:30-11:30 Master Class
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-3:30 Open
3:30-5:30 Master Class
6:00-7:00 Dinner
7:00-8:30 Performance Workshop
8:30-10:00 Outdoor Fireplace Gathering

Thursday, June 22nd
8:00-9:00 Breakfast
9:30-11:30 Ensemble Rehearsal & Performance Staging
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-3:30 Open

3:30-4:30 Ensemble Rehearsal
4:30-5:45 Open
6:00-7:00 Dinner
7:30-9:00 CGI Public Performance

Friday, June 23rd
7:30-8:00 Check-out
8:00-9:00 Breakfast

Schedule subject to change

Housing and Meals

Each participant will have a private room and bathroom/shower and a shared small living room area.Wright Hall In addition we have private access to a large kitchen complete with microwave, coffee machine and refrigerator. Participants can bring snacks and drinks and store them in Creevey which is locked each night. We will meet in Wright Hall each day for meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are covered each day except from Friday, June 16th (dinner only), through Friday, June 23rd break

Alternate diets can be accommodated at an additional cost of $40.00 (payable to me). An extensive list of options are available. For more information, and to request an alternate diet, go to (Deadline is May 6, 2017).

Fees & Deadlines

  • CGI ’17 – $1995.00 and includes all housing, meals and classes.
  • A non-refundable deposit of $425.00 secures a spot. Registration to past participants opens July 6th, 2016.
  • Open Registration begins August 1st, 2016 (earlier deposits will be taken for open registration and any spots that open on that date will be given on a first-come-first-served basis).
  • Ensemble Piece to be Sent September 30th, 2016
  • Repertoire Chosen by September 30th, 2016
  • Final Fee for CGI Due: March 4th, 2017
  • Final Repertoire List Due April 10th, 2017
  • Alternate Dietary Requests Due: May 16th, 2017
  • Travel Itineraries Due: June 1st, 2017

General Info
Menucha is a great place for doing some simple hiking. The hiking trails are relatively flat but you can find some hills. There are tennis and basketball courts as well as an outdoor (unheated) swimming pool.

The weather can be a little rainy, usually some nice weather but of course dress in layers. Bug repellant is not a bad idea for our annual outdoor fireplace night.

There are no phones or TVs in the rooms and wifi is rather slow but available.

Getting to Menucha
IMG_0617I want everyone to arrive no later than 4:00 pm on Friday, June 16th. We will form a carpool made of up local students who can pick-up and drop off those flying into Portland International Airport.

Students should plan on staying through Friday breakfast, June 23rd

Please send me the following to help coordinate your arrival:

  • Projected arrival time (local or remote students)
  • Cell phone number
  • Air travelers should also send your itinerary including arrival and departure times and flight numbers. (I’ll coordinate pick-ups and get everyone in contact with each other the week before)

Menucha Retreat and Conference Center
38711 East Historic Columbia River Hwy
Corbett, OR 97019-0008
Phone: 503-695-2243 (9:00 am – 5:00 pm PST, weekdays)

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Road to Guitar Recovery – Part 1, Musicianship

IMG_1117My four month hiatus from playing taught me a lot about the guitar. Since my methodical return I have gained new technical, musical and performance skills. I hope guitarists, and perhaps even non-guitarists find these posts worth following. Guitarists who want to improve their technique as well as musicianship and performance skills should apply themselves as instructed in this three-part series.

Each part of this series will include one chapter from my three part method for classical guitar. In Phase I Primary Skills for the Classical Guitarist devotes over thirty chapters to positioning, movement and movement forms for the classical guitarist. Phase II Secondary Skills covers additionial skills, often the ones that differentiate more professional level playing from novice playing.  And Phase III Practice Directives covers repertoire practice directives that will aid in increasing musicianship, technique, memory and performance skills. Each chapter will eventually include introduction and practice-along-with-Scott videos. While my Private and Independant Studies students currently have access to all three parts of my method all will be available to the general public in early 2017.

At the beginning of January 2015 I took a nasty fall off some stairs, landing on a sharp object which caused my patella tendon to tear and my quad muscles to rupture in my left knee. My recovery was as the doctors promised – long and painful. I was unable to practice, mostly due to lack of mobility and pain, finally returning to the practice room for short spurts of work 5 months later in late May.

A few months ealier I had begun to work on vocalizing my pieces, (the subject of this article) but as I hit the guitar I studied my technique carefully through technical exercises and a new set of Carcassi and Sor study pieces. Only returning to concert repertoire in the fall of 2016. In the process I’ve bettered my technique, musicianship and performing skills. I’m playing at my best and with more confidence than ever. I also gained a deep gratitude for the skills and career that I worked so hard to achieve.

These gains are not the result of any new information but the application of what I already knew and from my method. But now I had the luxury of time. My wonderfully supportive wife encouraged me to take a full year before taking on responsibilites of performing. And so in each of the phases I worked I was able to do so with more time and focus. In this three part series I want to share with you what I discovered.


My accident robbed me of my old life, housebound as it were but not playing guitar was the hardest; this was my first abscence for over 51 years. And I knew I was a few months from getting back in the practice room. As the medications wore off it became apparent that I needed to do something. If not 3:4playing perhaps I could learn to sing my pieces. I began conducting and sight-singing my scores. I downloaded a piano app to my ipad to help with starting pitches and to help recover any notes in question. (I also downloaded a harpsichord app for my baroque works). I began to notice I was singing phrases differently from the way I remembered playing them. Soon I began recording my sessions and marking my scores accordingly.  As I continued to listen, critique and refine I eventually was able to ‘perform’ a number of works with clear and new interpretations, from memory without the guitar! I felt like I was on to something new and exciting. Of course I had sung through parts of pieces before but this was different, somehow having no access to the guitar forced me to think more clearly about my musical choices and overall interpretation. I felt like I owned the score musically with compete interpretations.  I came to call this my ‘musical map’. Like a map it became a guide for how I wanted to interpret the composers intensions. I remember some of my happiest days reclined on my deck with the sun and breeze in my face, internally hearing and performing my repertoire; three movements from the Bach’s 1st Cello Suite, some studies by Carcassi and Tarrega’s Capricho Arabe.  It’s hard to explain how meaningful and fulfilling this felt. The music was nurturing my soul back and even though singing my repertoire came very close to the satisfaction recieved from actually playing I couldn’t wait to feel the touch of my strings.

Eventually working my new interpretations into my hands was something I would do months later and subsequent performances were transformed not only by my new found musical map but also from the welcomed absence of internal interference. Gone were the distractions, replaced by a wonderful duet playing between my hands and my ears. Stay tuned for Part 3 and you’ll see how this works.

What follows is a chapter I wrote from this experience that will be in my upcoming method Phase III, Practice Directives for the Classical Guitarist on Vocalization.

Phase III, Part 4 – Chapter 5 Vocalization

The Practice Directive that follows is a thorough training in vocalization and creating a musica map. This can take well up to a month or six weeks to complete. Once completed subsequent vocalization exercises will become easier. Eventaully you’ll be internally singing everything you play; from scales to your concert repertoire pieces. And thats a good thing!!

Chapter 6 – Vocalization

Weeks to Completion: 4

Number of Practices in Two Week Cycle: 10

Time per Practice Session: 15 minutes

Repertoire Demand Level: 5 and below

In this practice directive, you’ll learn to vocalize and develop a personal interpretation or musical map of the music.

Too often, musicians interpret in reaction to the music, without thought to musical form or phrasing. A purely reactionary approach may seem more intuitive and thus easier, individualistic, or creative. But the approach is misguided. First, it takes too little of the composer’s intentions into account. A higher art form is reached when player and composer unite in an understanding of form and expression. Secondly, because the reactionary approach is based on one’s ever-changing and subjective reactions to the music, it introduces inconsistency and uncertainty, which can increase anxiety in performance. As a reactionary interpreter, you can also find yourself focusing on smaller musical figures instead of on overall phrasing. Focusing on smaller figures can cause distractions and increased anxiety. Adhering to a mapped interpretation allows you to focus on the big picture, making performing much easier.

In The Inner Game of Music (2011), author Barry Green  states, “When you can hold the sound and pitch of the music clearly in this way, performing it accurately becomes easier. Your body has a sense of its goal. Effectively, you are playing a duet between the music in your head and the music you are performing. Any notes you play that don’t correspond to your imagined sense of the music stand out, and your nervous system is able to make instant, unconscious adjustments.” (p 60)

Following a musical map gives you a feeling of finality and a benchmark for how you want to continue to practice and perform the work. If those weren’t enough reasons to look askance at the intuitive approach and take a more consistent interpretive approach, imagine the joy that comes from the connection made between you and an audience as a result of your confident expression of the composer’s intentions.

There are two stages to this practice directive: vocalization and integration. In the vocalization phase, you learn to sing the melody a cappella, only using the guitar to check pitches. It is in this phase where you develop your interpretation. The ‘integration’ consists of playing your interpretation on the guitar. Throughout the vocalization and integration phases, record yourself for review and refinement purposes.

Vocalization can be an intimidating process, but it needn’t be, as we’re not concerned with singing perfectly in tune. Be less concerned about how you sound and more concerned with what you hear. Let’s practice hearing.

Below, find the song “Beautiful Dreamer” by Stephen Foster (Example 1). Sing it in your head first. You can likely imagine the melody quite well. Now, sing it out loud. After a few audible attempts, sing it back in your head. It should be clear that you can recall and internally sing the familiar tune Beautiful Dreamer.

Example 1

Beautiful Dreamer

What follows is a quick tutorial to get you started. As you begin to sing these examples, don’t worry about singing perfectly in tune. While you want to hit the pitches (and playing along occasionally on the guitar can help with that), don’t be overly concerned with hitting the pitch perfectly in tune. It’s more important that you hear the pitches. Also, don’t worry about the exact range. If a voicing is too low or high, simply move it up or down an octave. Rhythm, on the other hand, should be strictly observed. While vocalizing, apply the conducting skills you learned in Part 4, Chapter 1.

Because you are only capable of singing one note at a time, you should focus on the melody. Melody is occasionally interwoven within an arpeggio pattern, as in Francisco Tarrega’s “Study No. 2” (Example 2).

Example 2


Example 3 shows the extracted melody from the same work. Try singing the melody, play along on the guitar if you need help.

Example 3

StudyNo2 Melody-1

Here’s another example from Fernando Sor’s “Study in Bm”,(Example 4).

Example 4


Example 5 shows the extracted melody from the same eight measures. Sing the following.

Example 5


Occasionally, another voice asserts itself as an active voice. Active voices are those that are not melody, but are integral and can be sung with the melody. Consider Matteo Carcassi’s “Study No 3 in A minor,” a good example of a work with a melody and an active voice (Example 6).

Example 6


In Example 7, the melody is on top and an active voice is in the bass, both of which you can sing, since they don’t sound at the same time. Play and sing along. You may not have the vocal range to sing the notes at pitch. If needed, raise the bass an octave up, or the melody an octave down.

Example 7




For your first two weeks of practice, learn the notes that you’ll be singing. Extract the melody, as well as any other active parts you can sing. As you work through the vocalization phase, observe the phrasing by using the expressive tools of dynamics and tempo. Remember the concepts learned earlier in Part 4. If you’re not familiar with these chapters suffice it to say you’ll want to follow the contour of the melody with dynamics and rhythm, observe the arc of the phrases and sections. Try increasing your tempo and dynamics at the three quarter mark (or high point) of each phrase, and decrease your tempo and dynamics at the end of the phrases. As a few phrases make a section — and a few sections make an entire piece — you should begin to hear the relative high points in each phrase and section.

Eventually, you need to find what I call the ‘high’ point of the piece. This usually comes near the end. Everything builds to this moment, and this is where your tempo and dynamics should create the most tension. The expressive qualities should be relative to the level of tension and release created in each. This becomes the musical map I spoke of earlier.

Breadth in Phrasing

Phrasing owes its form to the characteristics of the human voice so it behooves you to use your breadth to aid in phrasing. Try to breathe when there are natural musical breaks — for instance, at the end of phrases. Observe these breadths in your interpretation as well. Your score should eventually use expressive and breadth markings.


Melody helps determine tempo, so use the vocalization practice to learn the appropriate tempo for the piece.

Once you have a good feel for your interpretation, you can perform an internal vocalization anywhere: sitting outside, taking a walk, or even before you go to sleep. This in itself can be quite rewarding.

Remember to record, review, and refine your interpretation until you have your musical map memorized.


Once you have a recording of your memorized mapped interpretation, begin playing along on the guitar as you continue to sing internally. Internal singing is a critical bridge between these four weeks of practice where you should try to match the expressive qualities (rhythmic and dynamic) as well as the breath marks in your recorded vocalization. It’s critical that you record and review your playing of the piece to make sure that you’re getting all the expressive nuances you were able to sing. By the end of the last two weeks, you should be consistently internally singing along with your playing, observing your learned interpretation.

At this point you can also add timbre changes to your interpretation. Experiment with playing passages with ponticello (near the bridge) and tasto (above the soundhole) for further expression.

Just as you did a vocalization recording, now aim to get a recording of your playing that you consider a good representation of your final interpretation. Save that recording for future reference. From this point forward, always internally sing as you play the piece.

Maintenance Practice

When you cycle the piece back into your maintenance practice, always adhere to your interpretation as you apply other practice directives. You can also continue to internally vocalize your interpretation without the guitar, and occasionally review or revise your recording.

As your musical experience continues to grow, you may choose to alter your interpretation. Having laid the foundation, small changes will be relatively easy to implement.

Independent Study:

Send a recording of your vocalization and performance of the work on guitar.

Stay tuned for Part II!

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