Mel Bay: Vol 1`: 162 pages , Vol. 2:219 pages and Vol. 3: 86 pages (includes a CD)
It’s hard to believe that it is three decades since this set of volumes was originally published, but it is still one of the most important tutor sets for the classical guitar. The first thing to realize is that Volumes 1 and 2 were written to be used at the same time and so unlike a lot of other tutor sets , you can’t successfully buy Volume 1 by itself. The immediate response is how detailed everything is, and how little the books rely on just a set of specially written pieces to fill out the pages. When you consider the fact that there are 27 main chapters simply in Volume 1, each sub- divided into a number of smaller sections then you begin to see just how much attention to detail is taken.
Many ideas in these books broke new ground. In developing this new approach to the books, Shearer followed the following concepts: , firstly how and what students practise is as important as how much they do practise .Secondly , don’t over –fill the pupil’s minds with unnecessary information but give it only when it is useful, and thirdly be careful how quickly you progress the pupil , as it is more likely to put them off, if challenging concepts are introduced too early . Volume one focuses on technical development and explains the most efficient approach to study and practice. As I’ve already said, Volume 2 should go hand in hand with part one as it presents the elements of music and procedures for developing ability to sight-read and memorize. Interestingly, it introduces the visualization concept, a very useful tool to have when learning to play any instrument, and one which can only bring the player on better and more efficiently. The final and smallest volume (which comes with a CD) teaches the pupil to form clear and accurate ideas concerning musical expression. It also teaches the guitarist how to perform in public with accuracy and confidence.
As a result , this set of classic volumes , although having been around for 3 decades now still have a great deal to teach the pupil about the inherently complex world of playing the classical guitar, and as such it still today has a place on our bookshelves. Yes, there are various places where you might disagree with Shearer, but that is up to the teacher to put that right, for there is probably no way that these books could be used as a means to teach oneself , without having a teacher there constantly.