March 30, 2012

Quick tip for students

Whenever you have a question for your teacher, write it down, so you don't forget it before your next lesson.

March 10, 2012

Brigitte Zaczec on Baroque lute

I just found this very nice video of Brigitte Zaczek on baroque lute. I'd never heard of her before but was  intrigued because of her last name's similarity to my own. I find the interviewer to be a bit creepy, frankly, but I enjoyed the performance and the great footage of her right hand technique. It's especially interesting how she uses her right hand thumb to manage the beginning and end of every bass note. We have to do the same thing on guitar, too, but in comparison, we've really got it easy!

As a bonus, here's audio of her playing a piece by Mertz on a period instrument.

March 5, 2012

Make your own path

I'm not sure what made me think of this, but a while back (it must have been a long time, since it has been several months since I removed myself from internet forums in order to enjoy my life more) maybe a year or two I remember someone saying he planned to spend the next year immersing himself in the music of one composer. The responses varied, but I believe the general feeling was that in the interest of being a well-rounded musician, this was not a good idea.

Well, if your goal is to be a well-rounded musician, maybe so. Being a well-rounded musician is a great thing. On the other hand, if the music of Fernando Sor is what gets you out of bed in the morning, I think you should go with it. Cultivate the obsession and learn as much about Sor and as much of his music as you can.

Several years ago, for a variety of reasons, I quit playing guitar altogether for about a year. I used to really regret it; I did lose some technical ground and some flexibility in my hands that took a long time to regain. On the other hand, during that time, I became a pretty good irish flute player because that was the obsession that drove me at the time. Flute led me to a world of social music-making that has helped me make some very close friends and enriched my life. Making music in that kind of capacity has brought me a wealth of insight into the nature of music and performing, following the flow of and getting carried away by music. All these things could have happened if I'd followed a straighter path, but they would have been different.

A few years before that, I'd been working hard to prepare myself to audition for music school. I was ready to quit my job and start my life over, despite being deeply in debt at the time. In the end, I stuck with my job and paid off my debt. A long the way, I fell in love and got married, and together the two of us saved up a substantial amount of money and went for a 7-month road trip. I'd probably be a much better guitarist by now if I'd stuck to the plan and gone to music school, but instead I had the experience of a lifetime, the likes of which most people may never get a chance to have. Was it a better choice? I don't know. The right choice? For me, yes.

I'm not saying you shouldn't go to music school or that you shouldn't try to become a well-rounded musician. I'm saying that if you should never regret following your dreams and making the best of whatever you end up doing. To paraphrase a famous quote, it's better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.