Bach, Mastery, Musicianship, and Practice

4 08 2013


“For the past 80 years I have started each day in the same manner…  I go to the piano, and I play two preludes and fugues of Bach.  I cannot think of doing otherwise.  It is a sort of benediction on the house.  But that is not its only meaning for me.  It is rediscovery of the world of which I have the joy of being a part.  It fills me with awareness of the wonder of life, with a feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being.” (Pablo Casals, cellist)

I started reading a fascinating book nearly three years ago.  I’m resuming the reading today.  Practicing:  A Musician’s Return to Music by Glenn Kurtz, is the story of an aspiring classical guitarist who pursued a career with the instrument and then gave it up, largely through discouragement that he’d not be the next Julian Bream or Andrés Segovia.

The book, eloquently written, chronicles his reunion with the guitar.  This involved starting almost from scratch, though certain things come back with the same reliability of getting on a bicycle.  Some stuff never goes away.

I’ve been challenged to make room once again for my own pursuit of classical guitar as well as learning more on piano and taking up the violin once again.  In the mid 1980’s, I studied classical guitar privately as well as in college.  It gave me technical and theoretical skills that have held me in good stead to this day in other, less challenging forms of music.  Learning to play études by Fernando Sor and pieces by Bach and I. Albeniz makes playing “Dust in the Wind” (Kansas) and “Fire and Rain” (James Taylor) easy by comparison.

I miss the challenge, to be honest.

How about you?  Have you set aside a pursuit years ago that has left an ache inside you, something unfulfilled?  Perhaps it was a mastering musical instrument or learning another language.  Maybe you are in your middle years and want to complete your degree.  It’s never too late to keep learning and add variety, skill, and spice to your life.

Do it now.  You’re up to this and there is no better time.  You’ll not regret it.

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