a piece of music out is similar to planning a car trip. It’s that simple. You get a map, look at your options, and take off. Along the way there might be detours and there could be a choice of routes to travel, with one way or the other not always better than the other. For example, you might select a more a scenic route for a potentially longer drive or pick the super highway for more of a direct route.

The nice thing about properly mapping out a piece for both hands is that you can combine the two courses or approaches. I always like to go for a more


ect route with a piece to determine the most effective functionality for both hands. Then I add a sort of layering process. This is the point where, like decorating a cake, I begin to add in the bells and whistles or nuances – vibrato, glissandos, grace notes, variations, staccato effects, and general note treatments. Often times, as the piece is unfolding initially in my hands, I get subtle hints or sneak previews of what may lie ahead.

One of the more important areas for me regarding the mapping out of a piece for the right hand involves finger substitutions. In order to avoid hitting the same string twice in a row with the same finger I’ll often borrow another finger. This approach can help me from getting a hiccup in my right hand during the performance of a piece. It’s almost as if my hand hits a speed bump when that happens, so paying close attention to your right hand sequencing is crucial to creating a nice flow. 


Editor’s Note: Richard Gilewitz takes his “fire starting” kit with him around the world on tour for his GillaCamp guitar workshops. For up to date tour information and workshop schedules check out and


Originally posted 2010-01-21 22:26:19.