Technique Tuesdays - 19th August - Leo Brouwer Etude 4

Welcome back to Technique Tuesdays! This week we'll be looking at Leo Brouwer's Etude 4 from his set of twenty etudes, Etudes Simples, which you can purchase here.

Here's this week's video:

Technical Challenges

  • Playing a Half-Barre

This is the first of the etudes to feature the use of barres, in this case the half-barre. Special attention must be paid to tension while performing barres, as they are one of the main sources of tension in students and accomplished players alike. Try to allow the weight of your left arm to do the work of holding the barre, and avoid squeezing with the thumb and fingers, which will only lead to fatigue and pain.*

  • Damping the Accompaniment

Brouwer has clearly marked eighth note rests in the accompaniment part, which means we must damp, or stop, those notes from sounding whenever we see a rest. This is a commonly ignored feature of this etude but one that changes the character of the piece dramatically, as well as teaching the student a valuable skill. The damping can be achieved either by releasing the notes with the left-hand or planting i and m to stop them from ringing. I use my right hand for the most part, except in measure eight, which is discussed in more detail in the video.

  • Arm Alignment in Measure Eight

This is a discussion best left to the video as it us much easier to see in action than it is to describe.


That's it for this week folks! Please feel free to comment with your thoughts and check me out on all your favourite social media outlets for updates.

Happy practicing!


*See Ricardo Iznaola's fantastic new book Summa Kitharologica for a far more detailed description of the functions of the left arm in barres than I could ever hope to give.