The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE instructor teaches students classical guitar techniques, rhythms

By Colt Langley/reporter

Playing an acoustic version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” instructor Jan Ryberg treats his students to another top 10 hit, classical-guitar style.

TCC offers several music classes focused on the guitar: guitar one and two, guitar ensemble and private lessons.

In class one, students learn how to read music in the classical style as well as a little in rock. Students also learn how to play beginner compositions.

In class two, students delve deeper into more advanced compositions. While learning these compositions, students will try to get into the composer’s head, to figure what the composer is doing.

Barry Williams, enrolled in class two and guitar ensemble, says he enjoys the classes because he is free to ask questions.

“The other students learn the way I do,” he said. “I don’t have to feel like the villain, slowing folks down with too many questions.”

Williams first started taking guitar classes 25 years ago at the college when it was known as TCJC. Since then, he says he has become a man full of regret for putting the guitar down. But now he wants to finish what he started.

Unlike brass instruments, the classical guitar does not have a wide projection of sound. One technique students learn is droning or letting certain notes on the guitar ring out while the guitarist is playing something else on the fret board.

Other techniques students learn are hammer-ons, plucking, pull-offs and flip-flops. Flip-flopping is basically flipping a chord’s shape.

“In ensemble class, we play as loud as we can because we have such a soft instrument,” Ryberg said.

An optional technique found in classical as well as Spanish guitar music is growing out one’s fingernails. Longer fingernails help produce a louder sound. Ryberg said 50 percent of classical guitar players use fake fingernails.

One composition ensemble students are learning is “Lagrima,” which in English means “teardrop.” Guitar class two students are learning the international song “Besame,” which in English means “kiss me.”

Former student and now business partner of Ryberg, Michael Coyne said Ryberg helped him develop his own technique.

“Jan is really student-focused. The main thing he’ll do is focus on the students’ strong suit and develop that technique, the technique they’d be best at,” Coyne said. “He’s developing students for four-year universities and to become world-class musicians.”

Coyne said local university professors he tried out for did not show him the attention and care that Ryberg had showed him.

“They didn’t show the quality of developing a player or the quality of developing a player’s technique,” he said.

Outside the classroom, Ryberg has encouraged his students to visit his Web site strumhum.com. Here, students have the opportunity to have more instruction for class-related material.

Ensemble student Jerry Watson, who has been playing for six months, said he is learning the guitar so that one day he can play with his two sons.

“I’m trying to stretch myself and do something different,” he said. “I’m a boring engineer. Both my sons are real musical, and I’m trying to get where I can play with them.”

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