Strength and Accuracy for the Guitarist


Your Weekly Dexterity and Stamina Exercise

Updated December 2, 2004


There's Something Here for Everyone!

Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx



A Salute to Giuliani

And that's not the famous New York City Mayor!

It's all about control, man. Yeah, I'm a control freak. You should be one too--in fact, you have to be a control freak to play guitar with any degree of musicality.

If you've played Mauro Giuliani, I don't have to tell you what a terrific composer he was. He wrote in what I consider to be the classic 'classical' style, utilizing themes from Rossini's operas and the little gem from Handel's 'Harmonious Blacksmith' that spawned this tiny variation. This is a fairly simple piece that can and is (usually) played in a student's third year with the instrument. I know a few recitalists who still play this piece, not because of its razzle-dazzle factor, but for its musicality. Listen to John Williams' rendition on his Virtuoso Variations recording for Columbia Records. It has a subdued razzle-dazzle. It's a neat piece.

What makes this particular variation interesting is the rests. John Williams, wonderful player, student of Segovia, master of the instrument, he still lets those bass notes in the variation ring through the ensuing rests! (As recorded in the previously mentioned album.)

I am sure that Giuliani wanted silence in the bass part when he penned those little sixteenth rests. Ink was precious in those days... Successfully performing those rests is a combination of both right and left hand technique. Obviously, once the note is plucked, you'd think the right hand technique was just about a done deal. Well, yes and no. Yeah, you've made your choice for volume and tone of attack, but something else is needed. First look at what you'll need to do with your left hand. Getting your finger off the C# (first beat, first measure) will result in a short duration for the note. How about the A that commences the second beat? Getting your left hand finger off an open string.... Not such a beast. Here's where right hand technique comes in. I use the fat side of my thumb to dampen the string after the initial attack. It works.

Making sure those rests come across as rests--bits of silence--makes the variation really have a bit of snap and crispness that is lost when the notes are allowed to ring. Try it.

Here is another gem you need to have in your library. I am sure all the classical guitarists who have been playing more than a year have this one already, but if you don't, grab a copy ASAP. It's the famous 120 Daily Studies for the Right Hand and has many exercises that link the type of techniques described above to a easy and brainless chord progression. Perfect for noodling in front of the TV!

Mauro Giuliani: 120 Studies For Right Hand Development Composed by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829). For guitar. Format: instructional book. With fingerings. Technique and Classical Period. 20 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by Warner Brothers.
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Enjoy these exercises and come back next week for more!.

  LOW END  By Harry George Pellegrin.  The first in the Gary Morrissey series of mysteries.  Dealing with modern subject matter in the classic style of the 1940's Mystery Noire masters--think Raymond Chandler in New York in the 1980's...  LOW END is the story of a drug addict who is murdered after he believes he has found evidence of a major government conspiracy.  Is it only drug-induced paranoia?  Might be, except his paranoia could be considered justified: he was murdered, after all.  Friend Gary Morrissey takes it upon himself to find out just what happened and lands himself in the crosshairs.
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Classic Guitar Method  Composed, written, transcribed, edited and arranged by Harry G. Pellegrin: Now in one volume, much of what the novice classical guitarist will need to know to lead him or her to the recital stage. From proper instrument care and maintenance to the necessary technical skills, musical mind-set, and the standard repertoire—all exposed and explored with enough detail and insight that the student will wish to keep this book handy years to come as a ready reference source.
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DEEP END: The Wreck of the Eddie Fitz  By Harry George Pellegrin. A mystery novel. Involving a semi-professional musician and a Kreyol death cult, DEEP END takes the reader from the bottom of Long Island Sound to the steamy streets and Blues clubs of New Orleans. Alternative spirituality does battle with the common working man.  Published by PAB Entertainment Group in association with
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Reflecting Pools    Original Music by Harry G. Pellegrin:
Reflecting Pools is a departure for me as it is totally keyboard. Well, the guitar did show up on one track...

"...Reflecting Pools is a notable first album [for Mr. Pellegrin]. A dramatic sense of tonality and mood are propelled by exemplary musicianship and exciting compositional exploits."

Available through

...And containing nine tracks that are relaxing, inspirational -- sounds like a snooze. Not really, this is great stuff to listen to on a rainy afternoon, while with your significant other (nudge, nudge, know what I mean?) Please visit the Reflecting Pools page on this site or

In That Zone, is now out! Please visit for details and to order.

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