Learning a handful of Leo Brouwer’s twenty “Estudios Sencillos” is something just about every modern classical guitar student has done at one point or another. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that this group of pieces has left a significant impact on the current generation of guitarists.
Because these pieces are so popular and widely played, we wanted to make sure students today have access to the very best teachers and information on how to play this particular group of pieces. To this end, we asked Rene Izqueirdo — a Cuban native who has played these pieces for countless years and even studied with Maestro Brouwer himself — to share the most important musical and technical elements of each individual study.
In addition to the lesson below, you can watch instructional videos of Rene teaching the first ten on tonebase. However, for now, here are all four parts of his lesson on arguably the most popular of the set — Etude №6.
Part 1: Planting and Learning the Chords
In the first part of the lesson, Rene introduces the idea of sequential planting, a technique used throughout the piece. In addition, he touches on the importance of learning the chords first as blocks.
Part 2: Guide Fingers in the Left Hand
Rene continues by sharing the left hand fingerings he finds most musically and technically beneficial. He also takes this opportunity to teach the concept of guide fingers which allow one to glide between chords.
Part 3: Right Hand Variation
In the third part, Rene demonstrates a commonly overlooked right hand variation that Leo Brouwer actually wrote into the score. This alternate fingering introduces new techniques such as “sweeping.”
Part 4: Dynamics and Reflex
To end the lesson, Rene demonstrates how the overall harmonic motion of the piece determines the dynamics. In addition, he touches on the reflexive motion of the repeated right hand thumb.