Into the summer!

6/10/2012 Sunday 5:05 pm

So much to report.  So much to be thankful for.

Glenda and I had a vacation the last two weeks of May.  That is, I took two weeks off from teaching and I tried to take one week away from ACGS.  The latter didn’t really happen, but I did slow the ACGS schedule a touch.  My teaching schedule is over 35 contact hours per-week, however, with appointments until 9 Monday through Thursday and Saturday from 9-4.  So when you remove all those appointments, it really frees some things up.

My studio recital was Saturday, May 19th.  the next afternoon I played a concert at the lakeside home of my board member Penny Jamrack.  That was the end of the major obligations.  Vacation highlights were going to Mike and Linda Light’s house on the lake, going to Motown Monday at the Highball, having drinks with Joe and Quentin at the Tigress, and spending lots of time with Glenda ranging from cooking together, to basic home and automobile maintenance, to walking, meditating and general introspection.

ACGS is raging!  And that’s one of the reasons it was not really practical to disconnect.  The office is bigger, the team is bigger, our vision is bigger, and our events are multiplying.  All of this has added to the rates and amounts necessary for fundraising, along with logistics, publicity, and management in general.  Add to that that we’re deep into strategic planning mode – and had a board retreat on Sunday June 3rd – and you have the recipe for exciting and challenging times.

Some of my most favorite times of late at ACGS have been moments in my new office around the conference table with amazing and dedicated people talking about our dreams, our challenges, and the solutions we’re going to go and make happen.  This level of production and camaraderie is something I didn’t ever dream we’d be able to put together.

Randy Avers arrives tomorrow from Norway.  He’ll roll in to my house around midnight with Benoit Albert from France.  They will be here for two weeks and I’m super excited to see them again.  I went to college with Randy.  He and his duo partner Benoit are some of my favorite people.  They’re in town for an insane project I’ve asked them to do: write an original film score for a 1927 Lon Chaney silent film and perform it live, outside, with a violinist in front of 500 people!  It’s going to be awesome, it’s going to be challenging, and I hope people love it.  There’s a huge amount of press planned in the coming weeks.  Live appearances, radio and TV, and several major news print stories that I’m aware of.  I’m excited for the roll out.

Meditating these days.  And I’ve brought back my gratitude journal.  I missed it!  It’s a chance to sit and write out 10-20 of the things I’m most grateful for every day.  It’s a wonderful gift.

There’s no way to get it all down – but I wanted to be sure and write this story:

About two years ago a 58 year old man came to me asking for my help.  He is an accomplished bluegrass and pop guitarist who owns his own music shop and he decided he wanted to learn to play Bach’s Chaconne for his 60th birthday.  He is not a classical guitar player – and to wish to learn to play classical guitar and perform any piece at all in a two-year period is a lofty enough goal, much less one of the pinnacle works of all time.

His story was compelling, though, and he explained that at this point in his life, he decided he wanted to try and do something beyond his abilities.  He wanted ot push himself to new limits, and pour his all into something he was not at all sure he could attain.  But he wanted to give it his all as an example to himself, his family, his friends and his students, as he approaches this huge milestone in his life.

How could you say “no” to that?

So we began working.  I won’t bore you with all of the technical work we did.  I will say, however, that we worked hard and spent a huge amount of time singing individual lines, analyzing, visualizing, imagining, resolving, breathing.  At the point that I met him he had already had neck surgery.  He would go on to have 4 additional surgeries including back, left shoulder, and for carpal tunnel syndrome in his left hand (longtime issue – not brought on by this project!).  There were periods when a month would go by without me seeing him, or more, during his recovery periods.

But he kept on it, and starting in January as the home stretch came into focus, our lessons became more frequent and he began practicing in earnest.

Last night, in front of about 65 students, family members and friends, he performed the entire Bach Chaconne from memory.  The performance followed a very moving statement he made about his life, about the point as a boy when he left classical guitar behind him, and about how it was something he always regretted.  He described how he set this goal for himself as a way to prove to himself he could reach up and finish something important.

He’d be the first to tell you that the performance was not a touring professional quality performance.  But I was moved beyond words.  And there were many beautiful moments throughout, moments with shape and breath and beauty, that communicated clearly to an audience of largely non-musicians.

Of course his larger message, to all of us present, will resonate within our minds forever.  He told us that time is short, and time is precious, but if we dedicate ourselves to things we’re passionate about, we can accomplish our goals, realize our dreams, and make the most of the time we’ve been given.  More than that, he showed us.

And I’m very pleased to report that our next lesson is tomorrow afternoon!  Even after accomplishing this crazy goal, he told (last week) that he’d like to continue on now, and learn to play classical guitar “the right way” (his words)!

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