Teaching Approach

I feel very fortunate to have had wonderful training as a guitarist and musician. As I passed from one set of hands to another, I tried to get the best out of every one of my mentors and synthesize their ideas with my own observations, talent, goals, limitations, and, of course, life experience. Incorporating a serious and mindful approach to teaching has been one of the most important commitments of my professional life and one that has opened endless opportunities for a lifetime of learning.

 

As a teacher, my chief aim is to assist students in playing more freely and expressively. A big part of that process is helping to unlock their unique musical personality and potential and equip them with a solid technical foundation. Both contribute to achieving what the Russian piano pedagogue Heinrich Neuhaus called ¨the artistic image,¨ that is, grasping the essence and internal meaning of a piece of music and then to embody that message through a performance. For Neuhaus, the embodiment of musical content was the very definition of technique. This sentiment is at the core of my views on interpretation.

 

During lessons, I bring special attention to the neglected fundamentals of music-making, particularly inner listening, which has a direct impact on how we transform and communicate artistic ideas for an audience. On the guitar, the most effective forms of musical communication are the instrument´s endless color possibilities and the development of tactile sensitivity in the fingers. I motivate students to work on both, with etudes ideally suited to shape a stronger bond between technical mastery and interpretative know-how. (My favorite studies for the purpose are the ones by Fernando Sor, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Leo Brouwer.)

 

There is no doubt that proper and ergonomic body alignment, often referred to as the ¨set-up¨, can have a transformative effect on the confidence and successful musical development of instrumental learners of any age. A relaxed body and arm shape allow for an uninterrupted flow of information from the brain to the fingertips of both hands. I work with students to provide straight-forward guiding principles of efficient muscle use, joint function, and the foundation of how to fuse the instrument and the body into a single sound source.

 

Finally, it is pointless to practice without clearly defined practice objectives. I take a strong interest in how and what students practice in an effort to foster more independence and critical thought ultimately leading to the ultimate goal of pedagogy: the ability to teach yourself.   

Pedagogical Articles

A Pedagogical Analysis of Fernando Sor’s Lesson 20, Op. 31. Mahidol University Music Journal, Vol. 18, No. 1 (September 2012).

Heitor Villa-Lobos and the Choro Tradition as Reflected in his Prélude No. 2 from Cinq Préludes (1940) for Guitar. Mahidol University Music Journal, Vol. 18, No. 6 (February 2013).

‘Delicate Sweetness and Sympathetic Tones’: Madame Sidney Pratten and her Guitar School (1859). Mahidol University Music Journal (February 2019).

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© 2023 by Paul Cesarczyk