Guitar Masterclasses with International Soloists

On Saturday 24th February, I had the opportunity to take part in a masterclass with Eleftheria Kotzia, a professional classical guitarist. Firstly, we talked about how we warm up before starting to play. We got into the right posture, and stretched our hands to improve blood flow and warm them up. Next, we discussed different ways to prepare before playing a piece, such as practising slurs, playing scales and arpeggios and practising technical work or studies. Then, each of us in the class got the chance to perform a piece for Eleftheria, and get her feedback on it.

I performed Kalamatianos, a traditional Greek dance which Eleftheria was familiar with, and she was able to give me lots of great advice on how to improve my playing by suggesting different fingerings for certain passages, as well as helping me change positions more smoothly.

On Sunday 3rd March, I was lucky to get a place on another masterclass, with Xuefei Yang, a Chinese classical guitarist who has performed around the world.  It was held at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, where I attended along with a group of classical guitarists from the  Berkshire Music Trust. 

During the masterclass, I performed one of my grade pieces, Kalamatianos, to Xuefei and a small audience of parents and other classical guitar students. I received lots of useful feedback on how to stress certain beats, and create a fuller sound when playing chords, to emphasise the dance rhythm in the piece.


We watched a concert in the afternoon, with classical guitar ensembles from around the country, then took part in an ensemble playing Viva La Vida by Coldplay at a second concert that evening. We also had the chance to listen to the Vida Guitar Quartet perform some arrangements, including some from West Side Story, as well as some beautiful traditional Chinese and Latin American pieces performed by Xuefei Yang.

After the evening concert, all of us who had participated in the masterclasses were called up on stage and given sets of new guitar strings!  Getting feedback from and listening to these two internationally recognised guitarists was an amazing opportunity for me to improve my own playing, and I really enjoyed the experience.

Vedha, Year 10