Better late than never
Back when I turned 50 in 2016 I had my nephew’s band, Stone Giant, come play at my birthday party at BadWolf Brewing Company in Manassas. I have a lot of pride for what my nephew has accomplished and for how hard he’s worked at putting his band together and making a life out of his love for music. In a sense I feel mildly responsible; during a summer visit to my house when he was still 10 or 11 I planted the Led Zeppelin, Black Sabath, hard rock seed in his iPod and transferred my love of the guitar into his psyche.
When I saw him play, especially during a short solo blues set prior to the band taking the stage, I made a mid-century resolution to finally get off my ass and learn how to play the guitar. I figured, he’s been at it for a little over 10 years; If I dedicate the next 10 to playing, then maybe one day we can share the stage.
So, shortly after I bought a steel string Yamaha acoustic guitar and set out to teach myself how to play. This was around October of 2016. By the end of November it was evident that “teaching myself” was not going to get me where I wanted to be. I wanted to actually learn how to read music and pick up proper playing technique. Having tried to do some other things on my own, and developing some bad habits along the way, I knew this was something I did not want to repeat.
So I reached out to my good friend Alfredo Muro (there’s a great story on how we met), a classically trained guitarist, for some advice and guidance. This was early November 2016. By mid-November I would start taking weekly lessons from Alfredo, and by early January I would trade my steel string for an entry level student Nylon String Kremona S65C Soloist Guitar.
It’s been a little over a year since then and I have been systematically progressing and learning how to read and interpret music and, slowly, but surely learn to play the instrument I’ve loved so much.
Over my last few lessons I was given the assignment to select 8 pieces which I’ve learned over the course of the last year and begin perfecting them so that I can perform in front of friends and family. Ultimately, Alfredo told me, “you want to share what you’ve learned; while it’s great to play for one’s enjoyment, the real joy comes when you play for others.”
So, here’s my initial repertoire – the list of songs I’ve learned which I hope to master and soon enough play for you…
- Estudio #3 – Matteo Carcassi
- Allegro – Mauro Giulliani
- Plegaria – Guillermo Gomez (Arr. Alfredo Muro)
- Two Guitars – Traditional Russian Song
- Romance – Traditional Spanish Song
- Lagrima – Francisco Tarrega
- Inocente Amor – Alicia Maguiña (Arr. Carlos Hayre) Perú
- Claro de Luna – Carlos Hayre
- Malagueña – Traditional Spanish Song
My hope is to augment this list and update it over time, both with new pieces and links to actual recordings of me playing them.
Alfredo guided me initially through a series of exercises derived from a Cuban guitar conservatory and soon after had me jump into Christopher Parkening’s Guitar Method, Volume 1. We’re now into Volume 2 but also tapping into other hand picked songs by Alfredo that highlight methods and techniques I need to be learning.