We’re excited to announce the RGS Podcast relaunch! Subscribe to Richards Guitar Studio on iTunes, Podomatic, CastBox, or wherever you listen! Below is a time-stamped breakdown of what we cover in Episode 3: Discussion with Nate Richards and Colin Ainsworth.
On Episode 3 of the Richards Guitar Studio podcast, the show is back after a 4-year hiatus as owner Nate Richards and guitar instructor Colin Ainsworth discuss the history of the studio and touch on other topics that the series will dive into in upcoming episodes:
1:20 Nate outlines freelance teaching to build up students, finding the RGS’ location in the middle of the 2008 market crash, and interviewing teachers in Borders Books
11:10 Nate talks about his teachers while learning to play and band experiences in high school
19:15 Playing in bands in the ‘90s meant hand-building stages and dealing with the perils of minimum tape/CD orders from recording studios and recording scooped-mids guitar sounds
27:26 Nate and Colin discuss the benefits of buying physical media at record stores and the work that went into taping copies of albums
39:12 Thank your parents for the investment they make in your future; remember to “respect the business” when it comes to music, that joy in music comes from hard work, and that no music is above or below you
47:24 The importance of learning how to read music and basic theory/composition to learn rock music efficiently, the skillsets students tend to miss if they only learn by ear
57:55 How the studio’s music curriculum and business model have developed and finding the “junction of art and commerce,” the importance of keeping all students “speaking the same language” to make band rehearsals smooth
Video: Nate Richards, classical guitar teacher at Richards Guitar Studio in Aston, PA, performing Bach Goldberg Variations on classical guitar- Aria
As part of my master’s degree in classical guitar performance, I chose to begin a project of performing a Bach classical guitar piece that is less well-known than the standards in the repertoire, such as the suites, sonatas, and partitas. I love these standards, especially the Chaconne from Partita No.2 in D minor. But, I thought that so many guitarists have already put their fingerprint on those pieces, and I figured embarking on a brand new piece would be a better way to spend my time in graduate school.
I chose to program one 20th Century classical guitar standard, Douze Etudes by Heitor Villa-Lobos (written in 1928), and one piece that is rare in the repertoire, the Goldberg Variations. In addition to these, I have selected numerous shorter pieces by composers such as Tarrega and Rodrigo. I will take selections from both the Villa-Lobos and the Bach, as a full performance of both complete works would be well over 2 hours long, and the master’s degree concert should be approximately 55 minutes.
The transcription I’m using to study the Bach’s Goldberg Variations on classical guitar is linked HERE. Jozsef Eotvos (born 1962), a Hungarian classical guitarist, accomplished this spectacular achievement of transcribing Bach’s piano manuscript to classical guitar. In my opinion, this transcription is the greatest classical guitar transcription in the history of the instrument, with a possible tie or close second to Kazuhito Tamashita’s transcription of Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky.
The Goldberg Variations is a set of 30 variations on a bassline introduced in the introductory Aria (which I’m playing in this video). The variations follow a pattern of canon, genre piece (such as an overture), and an arabesque (lively technical piece). The Wikipedia page is quite accurate. Here is a quote regarding the origination of the composition:
[For this work] we have to thank the instigation of the former Russian ambassador to the electoral court of Saxony, Count Kaiserling, who often stopped inLeipzig and brought there with him the aforementioned Goldberg, in order to have him given musical instruction by Bach. The Count was often ill and had sleepless nights. At such times, Goldberg, who lived in his house, had to spend the night in an antechamber, so as to play for him during his insomnia. … Once the Count mentioned in Bach’s presence that he would like to have some clavier pieces for Goldberg, which should be of such a smooth and somewhat lively character that he might be a little cheered up by them in his sleepless nights. Bach thought himself best able to fulfill this wish by means of Variations, the writing of which he had until then considered an ungrateful task on account of the repeatedly similar harmonic foundation. But since at this time all his works were already models of art, such also these variations became under his hand. Yet he produced only a single work of this kind. Thereafter the Count always called them his variations. He never tired of them, and for a long time sleepless nights meant: ‘Dear Goldberg, do play me one of my variations.’ Bach was perhaps never so rewarded for one of his works as for this. The Count presented him with a golden goblet filled with 100 louis-d’or. Nevertheless, even had the gift been a thousand times larger, their artistic value would not yet have been paid for.
The prodigy/genius Canadian pianist Glenn Gould (1932-1982) recorded two definitive performances of the variations, once in 1955 and again in 1981. Many musicians debate about which recording is the best interpretation of the work, but many believe the 1955 version remains the pillar since its release. I personally like the slower tempo taken in the 1981 recording, so I favor it a bit more.
Fun fact – many professional pianists have performed this piece from memory – about an hour long and contains almost 76,000 NOTES!!! The power of the human brain is astonishing when pushed to the limits!
Here is the 1955 version of Variation 25, also known as the “black pearl,” given that description by Polish harpsichordist Wanda Landowska. Listen to it – you’ll hear why!
Richards Guitar Studio offers professional classical guitar lessons in Aston, PA.
Nate shows you another Joe Satriani Find the Note lesson, this time on the notes A, D, and Bb. We will locate all of the A’s, D’s, and Bb’s on the fretboard. Music theory and guitar fretboard theory needs practice and drilling, just like technique, songs, chords, etc. The goal of this lesson is to periodically practice finding notes on the fretboard, with only a few to try (rather than attempting to memorize the entire fretboard). This will help your guitar solos, improvisation, song memorization, etc. by reinforcing the idea of “targeting” notes. Here are a few tips:
Use the 12th fret as a reference point. The 12th fret (double-dot on the neck) is the same note as the open string. So, if you know that the fifth string is called the A string, then you know that the 12th fret on that same string is also an A, just an octave higher. Once you get this idea, you can do the same idea with fretted notes. So, if you know that the 3rd fret on the fifth string is a C (usually the first dot on the neck is at the 3rd fret, but some guitars have an inlay on the first fret – but let’s just call the 3rd fret the first dot by thinking of a Stratocaster neck) – then you can figure out that the 15th fret is also a C (that’s the first dot past the 12th fret). Think of the neck from 12th fret higher as a miniature guitar, since it is simply a smaller repetition of the first 11 frets.
Be patient, go slow. Don’t rush this. Take as much time as needed. This is an ongoing project, so once every week or so, pick one note and try to find all of those notes on the fretboard.
Use a note you already know as a reference. So, if you know where all of the A’s are on the guitar, you can use that as a reference point for all of the Bb’s, as Bb is only a half-step (1 fret) higher than A.
Richards Guitar Studio offers professional guitar lessons, bass lessons, drum lessons, and rock band school Richards Rock Academy in Aston, PA. Serving Delaware County, PA. Visit www.richardsrockacademy.com for rock band info.
Here is a middle-of-the-night candid talk about WHY we teach the Rock Guitar Mastery Program and why it is so important to our mission at RGS. You WILL NOT find a team of teachers who think long-term like we do, and put such a value on music regarding it’s impact on quality of life. Guitar lessons are more than just an after-school activity. Learning music in an effective and high-quality way can CHANGE SOMEONE’S LIFE. In my life, my ability to make great music has been a huge positive influence, and has helped me cope with many trials and tribulations along the way. Music can be a deep, healthy, meditative way to explore the imagination, and become a friend to you – helping yourself and loved ones through times of trouble as well as times of celebration and joy.
I sincerely hope you enjoy the philosophy behind this video – our aim is to elevate the quality of our students’ lives through music. – Nate Richards
Richards Guitar Studio provides professional guitar, drum, and bass lessons and rock band school in Aston, PA. Serving Delaware County – Media, Swarthmore, Springfield, Ridley, Garnet Valley, and Wallingford.