Interlude 3: Parlez-vous guitare?

In my senior year of high school, it seemed clear that I was bound for college and then law school. I’d become a very successful debater, winning regional and state tournaments and placing in the nationals. Scholarship offers came in from several good schools, but somehow I knew that I didn’t want to debate my way through life. I was really, really good at it, and I loved being good at it. But I didn’t love it. The thing I loved was music. So when the acceptance letter from Concordia College arrived in the spring of 1974, I decided that’s where I was going to go. I’d major in music, sing in that wonderful choir, and become a choral conductor.Read More »

Interlude 2: Starting the guitar

I found my first guitar under a bed. It was a Sears Silvertone, with six steel strings, a pick guard, and a sunburst finish. My older brother left it behind when he went off to join the Air Force. It was the summer of 1969 and I wasn’t quite thirteen. Awkward, bookish, a nerd before the term was invented—and so, of course, perfectly prepared for the high point of any adolescent life: junior high school (or, as most people know it, middle school). I didn’t know it at the time, but the guitar was one of the things that would help me get through the next three years.Read More »

A progress report

Back in January when I started this project I likened the Chaconne to a continent that I was going to traverse like the pioneering wagon trains of yore. I even made a map.

In the beginning of this, the third month of the journey, I feel I’ve made good progress. I’ve completed my edition of the piece—deciding the notes to play and all of the left hand fingerings—through measure 132…just over halfway through. No doubt I will rethink some of those decisions in the coming weeks, but I’ve accomplished a lot of solid preparatory work.

What’s more, I can actually play through the piece that far. Not well, not fluently, but competently at about 80% of the final performance tempo I am aiming for. So, in my halting way I am halfway across the continent.f71a3eee-f8a3-4c19-aa54-51f2412eb9de

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