Review: Complete Warm-Up for Classical Guitar by Gohar Vardanyan

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From the publisher:

This book contains short and concise exercises for use in a warm-up before practice or performance, and for general technical advancement. The book is divided into four sections: I Arpeggios, II Scales, III Tremolo, and IV Slurs. Each section contains a description of the exercises and general instructions on how to play them. The exercises are intended for guitarists who are looking for a simple warm-up that does not require learning many complicated études, exercises or routines.

The first thing you need to know about this book is who the author is; Gohar Vardanyan is a world class guitarist, she can play beautifully but also blow your socks off with virtuosity! For that reason alone I go into writing this review with a positive approach. Check this video:

video link via her YouTube channel: http://youtu.be/y_C_7mqWtds

The book is laid out in four main sections:

  1. Arpeggios
  2. Scales
  3. Tremolo
  4. Slurs

There is a brief text intro for each section and the exercises are mostly in an etude style, that is, either actual etudes or exercises that form a loop of some kind. There are a few shorter exercises in each section too. Giuliani’s Etude No. 5, Op. 48 is re-imagined a few times too which is a good idea as it keeps things simple and fingerings/harmonies similar.

The author’s intention is pretty clear, as she states in the intro, “This book is intended for guitarists who are looking for a concise warm-up routine that does not involve learning too many difficult and complicated exercises” [page 3]. I like the concept of a warm-up book as it avoids something that is too comprehensive or too long. It’s a short book of 18 pages and would indeed be a good warm-up. I also like  the idea of seeing the exercises a professional such as Gohar Vardanyan would practice. If every professional put out a book like this we could better grasp their approach to guitar and really learn about practicing from the books.

The good:

The best thing about this book is that it uses a good amount of musical exercises rather than short technical drills. Even in the scale section there is an exercise that loops many scales into one continuous etude. This is a better warm-up than a technical reference book because the player can test out their musical skills while also focusing on technique. I agree that the four main categories are a good warm up conceptually although tremolo is an odd ball [but still important].

Critical thoughts:

I’m not sure tremolo needs to be part of a warm-up routine, however, as the author states, it is a technique that must be maintained constantly so who am I to argue with that! Also, the exercise is a good one so I don’t mind it in the least. One thing that might be missing are stretch exercises. I like using finger independence exercises that stretch the fingers (you can think of something such as “Odairs Drill” from Tennants Pumping Nylon). However, the etude the author included has a variety of chords and may accomplish much of the same once memorized and played in a relaxed and confident way.

Conclusion:

I love the idea of a warm-up book. Too many players avoid warm-ups and opt for only technique exercises. This book has both etudes and exercises and would be more useful in pre-concert or daily warm-up sessions. In this book Gohar Vardanyan provides guitarists with a balanced and thorough warm-up routine and some insight into good playing and practice approaches. More importantly she offers an idea of what she considers priorities in playing and we all benefit from that. A great little book that covers a great deal of ground with a low cost for the consumer ($7.99 via Amazon).

9/10 Stars

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