The years of our lives are seventy or even by reason of strength, eighty…, they are soon gone and we fly away…, so teach us to number our days, so that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Moses, Psalm 90)
I have been thinking a lot about the brevity of life lately. Not in a morose, depressing way but in an attempt to distill down the most important aspects of my life. My point here is not to suggest how you should set your life priorities. I know what mine are or, better said, what they should be and I have a hard enough time making those happen. Nevertheless, when it comes to music and guitar playing I have a brief word of encouragement or advice, if you will allow me. I hope that this is helpful and affirming to what you instinctively feel is right.
Here is a thought: Why don’t you play the music you really enjoy? Our days on this earth are defiantly short and sooner or later we are all going to have to force exit this life. If you are going to put in the time and effort it takes to play the classical guitar, you might as well play material you really love. It is very easy to get on the bandwagon of playing what is trendy in guitar repertoire. We go to guitar competitions or festivals and immediately begin to feel the pressure of playing the same material although we often don’t understand it or, in all honesty, we dont even like it.
So what should you be working on? There is no shortage of music you could be practicing and you must become incredibly discerning as to what your time will be used for. The music you should devote your time to perfecting is the same music you constantly go back to for listening enjoyment. It is the music that continues to move you, elevate you, to ennoble you and bring some relief from your daily toils and hardships.
A few years back I decided that my practice will be devoted to the music that I most gladly listen to at the end of a long day, when I take my shoes off and put my feet up on the couch to relax. This is not to say that your repertoire cannot be intellectually challenging or avant-garde. Rather, this is an encouragement to be true to who you are and to embrace the music you really enjoy listening to without trying to fit in the repertoire mold of the latest guitar competition of festival.
Play the music you really like and don’t let others dictate what you should like. As long as you attempt to fulfill others’ goals for your musical progress you will continue to grind your teeth on music you don’t like and guitar playing will become a major drag or you will give up playing it altogether. Press on, be true to yourselves, and play what you love because playing music you don’t really enjoy is like driving through life with the handbrake on.
Here is the music I am enjoying these days and is becoming a part of my repertoire goals for the coming year or years.
- 10 Catalonian Songs with some examples below (arr. by Miguel Llobet)
- Theme from Schindler’s List by John Williams
- Valses Poeticos by Granados
- Alicia De Larrocha’s interpretation is fantastic.
- Suite Compostellana by Mompou
- Many interesting interpretations out there. I am excited to put my own fingerprint on this work.
- Pieces Caracteristiques by Torroba
- Segovia is the standard here.
- Five Bagatelles by Walton
- Julian Bream is the man!