As a student, I truly benefitted from attending masterclasses given by masters of the guitar, like Leo Brouwer, Oscar Ghiglia, Alexandre Lagoya, Oscar Caceres, and of course my mentor Abel Carlevaro. Years later as a professional myself, I enjoy giving masterclasses because they serve as platforms for some of my most creative periods.
Guitarists who attend usually come looking for some new tricks for playing their pieces with greater ease. After performing the work I ask them what it is they think could be improved. The majority make references to the mistakes they made, or to some awkward passage. That’s fine, but what I really admire are those few who ask me for advice concerning phrasing, legato playing, expression, or the polyphonic nature of the work.
Whether they ask or not, that’s what they get! Of course I also give them advice to improve the use of their hands, thanks to a more efficient understanding of their own bodies. Thus in learning which element of the body is most appropriate for a particular task (wrist, forearm, arm, upper body, or even feet) more beautiful sounds are created. And with this comes the natural consequence of removing all extraneous and undesired sounds, including squeaks, unwanted glissandi, and undesired resonance from open strings.
My objective in these situations is to make the participants more aware of what they can do to improve their abilities as guitarists, and more importantly, as musicians. The prerequisite for this is to train them to be better listeners. This is my greatest task, and when successful, my greatest reward.