Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Muriel Anderson- Concert Review

Do Half-Angels Play the Harp Guitar,
Where Does Muriel Anderson Hide Her Wings?
[Review of Muriel Anderson concert, August 4, 2013, Mooresville, N.C.]
by Dane Hartgrove

  Muriel Anderson is a diminutive master guitarist whose repertoire includes many songs
played on the harp guitar, an instrument that was moderately popular before World War I but has since gone the way of the flugelhorn. Harp guitars have additional strings in both bass and upper registers, more than 20 in all. In the hands of an artiste like Ms. Anderson, who has added her own tuning method, the end result is a fuller sound than that of a guitar. Among the songs played on harp guitar in this concert were the ethereal “View from Space” (dedicated to an astronaut who took Ms. Anderson’s Heartstrings album to the International Space Station), plus covers of “Starry Night” and “Vincent.” If angels play harps, wouldn’t playing a harp guitar the way she does make Muriel Anderson at least a half-angel?

  The concert apparently came about in part because Ms. Anderson was an instructor at
this year’s Swannanoa Gathering, which took place during the previous week, and drew her to our area. How could anyone who plays the guitar not want to take instruction from someone whose abilities with that instrument make her the equivalent of a guru? This reviewer had the good fortune to sit not more than ten feet from the performer, and literally could not take his eyes off her flying fingers. The music she brought out of both guitar and harp guitar was incredible, and lends credence to my only slightly tongue-in-cheek contention that Muriel Anderson is at least a half-angel.
    Some of the songs that stood out were the old favorite “Nola,” the Japanese-based
“Sakura” for which Ms. Anderson made her guitar sound like an Oriental instrument, “Fantasia de Fuego” with its classical guitar influences, the fine “Lady Pamela,” and a tribute to a departed musician titled “Bells for Marcel.”  There was much, much more, but why read about it when you can look up Muriel Anderson online and listen to clips of her work for yourself! As for me, I’m looking forward to her next concert in our area. Hey, there’s at least half a chance she can fly in for it all by herself!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Catawba Chiefs Club- Auction

  I just participated in the 2013 Catawba Chiefs Club auction at Goodman Gym on the Catawba College campus last night.   There were probably 200 people there, mostly alumni and staff of Catawba College, supporting the athletic department with a Silent Auction of various gifts and prizes. 
Catawba Chiefs

It was a crazy time, people mulling over all of the merchandise and offers, things like autographed posters, books, and sports memorabilia.  They had an Arnold Palmer autographed poster, Dick Vitale autographed collection of book, poster, and basketball, a Catawba College football helmet lamp, all kinds of local and chain restaurants, tickets to the Panthers, Bobcats, and others.

 I was privileged to donate three one-hour guitar lessons to some worthy person who won my auction bidding.  I will soon find out the identity of this "lucky" person. (!)   Thanks to Jackie Harris of United Way of Rowan County for contacting me and allowing me to participate in this wonderful event.  I look forward to doing it again next year !

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Guitar Teacher's Gab


  I thought we had a pretty good start to our newest classes on Monday { July 8 }.  We had several new students and some returning ones.  A total of about 20 students in two classesAbout fifteen {15} in the Beginners class and five {5} in the Intermediate class.  I went over basics such as tuning and how to finger notes on the fretboard, and first chords { G, C & D } with the Beginners, and we looked atHow to Transpose Notes & Keys  and picking out a tune called Bass Boogie Blues  in the Intermediate class. 

 I'm beginning to see what I feel is some really good progress with the Intermediate students.  I think it's always a "leap of faith" to say { even with my encouragement }  "Yes, I can do this. I'm ready to progress farther."  Just the very acknowledgment of that step is to me a great big encouragement.  We're going to practice really hard for the next couple of weeks, and then I plan for the Intermediate students to come visit the Beginners class and both perform for them and mentor them.  I hope they will be an encouragement to those who are not yet ready to fully believe in themselves.

  I realize that playing the guitar involves some physical realities { having flexibility and strength, etc. },but I believe it also encompasses a lot of mental and emotional things as well { belief, determination, perseverance.. just to name a few}.  There are so many little "baby steps" between walking in as aBrand New Beginner on the guitar, and advancing to the realm of enjoyment and expertise.  There is definitely a learning curve, but also a very large emotional growth as well.  Often, it's hard to discern { as a teacher, and also by the students themselves} these steps as they are occurring.  And oftentimes it's tempting, if you don't actually recognize the small steps of progress you're making, to just give up and quit.  It's DEFINITELY a lot easier.  But in the long run, at some point, we will second-guess ourselves.. and have to admit that we gave in-- probably right before our breakthrough.

 I'm looking forward to what the next two months bring in the way of teaching and developing my guitar students.  Hopefully, some of them will emerge, if not as skillful players, at least as ones that believe that one day, with some time and effort, becoming a better guitarist is within their reach.
"Practicing is a story.  Sitting down with your instrument, you imagine yourself into the future, better than you are now, having passed through a limbo of work that changes you... each day's small step adds up to a journey.  As long as you keep practicing, almost any goal seems attainable, a matter of time and effort."
[Glenn KurtzPracticing, p. 196]

Monday, August 5, 2013

Muriel Anderson - Concert Reviews

Muriel Anderson - Concert Review
by Cindy Snuggs

     As I sat in the front row impatiently waiting for Muriel Anderson to come out and begin her concert at Saint Patrick's Episcopal Church, I had no idea what to expect. She was introduced and then this lovely little creature came out and adjusted herself on stage. I had just washed my hands with her in the bathroom and said nothing, not knowing what she looked like.

  Then she began to play the guitar. Slowly at first, the most unique sounds filling the room. I was enthralled, then daunted, being a beginner myself. Her finger playing was so fast, at times, that I couldn't begin to pick out what she was actually playing before she was on to the next piece. How thrilling it was and yet I was becoming even more doubtful of my own accomplishments. Then I realized that I would never be her or play her style of playing. I relaxed and just appreciated her talents in music and her amazing sense of humor.

  She played a harp guitar next, which I had never seen, much less heard and it was phenomenal! At the very least, she is an eye-opener and a great entertainer. At the most, she is extremely exceptional at what she does. She played a new song for the audience to listen to and come back with a title of what it reminded them of. I listened to the responses, but never said that it reminded me of falling leaves and old memories floating in the wind, after all, what kind of title is that? Then she revealed she was calling it "Dandelions" and I thought how unfitting it was. Then I remembered that they turn into cream puffs and blow away in the wind...so how fitting it was after all, I smiled.

  I would like to brag and say that I had such a good ear, that I could pick out her off notes, but to tell the truth she gave it away herself with a wry look every time. She may want to practice her poker face.

  Anyway, YES!! She is human and a very lovable one at that.

Cindy Snuggs
Beginner Guitar Student
Rufty-Holmes Senior Center
Salisbury, NC

Testimonial - by Libby Owens

Testimonial - by Libby Owens 
My dad taught himself to play guitar when he was in the Coast Guard in the 1950's.  As a child, my brother, sisters, and I would come running in the evenings when Daddy pulled out his guitar.  We'd sit on the floor at his feet and listen as he played and sometimes sang.  Good old songs like "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain", "The Old Gray Mare", as well as songs made popular by the likes of Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, and many old favorite hymns.  If you're old enough you remember the TV show "Hee Haw."  In our minds our daddy was every bit as good as anyone who ever sang and played on that show and we told him often he ought to appear on it.  Still, I never thought much about playing guitar myself as I wasn't naturally gifted in music.  

  After we became adults, my younger sister took some guitar lessons, mostly from friends, and learned the basics.  I picked up her guitar a couple of times, but strumming hurt my fingers so I never pursued it.  Several years ago after I'd made an off-hand remark about wishing I could play guitar, my husband gave me one for Christmas.  I realized pretty quickly that I didn't know the first thing about the guitar.  I didn't have any idea how to make separate notes, nothing more than a quick strum across the strings.  So, the guitar stayed in its case for about 3 years.  I thought occasionally about taking lessons, but couldn't really afford to do so.  I did ask my dad to teach me, but somehow what he told me never made sense.  

  Then one day I saw the new Small Group class listings for church, and someone named Bob was going to lead a Beginner Guitar small group.  I figured, "Hey, I have nothing to lose if I still can't play after taking lessons, and maybe I can make my daddy proud of me."  The first night of class, I came away feeling completely inadequate.  Not only did my fingers hurt after just a few strums of the strings, but nothing that was said made any sense to me.  The teachers (Bob and Barry) promised me that if I practiced strumming every day, my fingers would quickly toughen up.  I did, and they were right.  I was amazed at the difference it made so quickly.  So the next week I felt ready to go, ready to learn!  But after that class I still felt overwhelmed.  I was the only one who didn't know at least a little about a guitar, and most had done some playing in the past.  I didn't even know enough vocabulary to talk about a guitar!  I was the only woman in class, and felt intimidated by that also.  I almost quit several times.  Bob was so patient with me, he knew I was totally clueless from the first night.  

  I told my dad I was taking lessons. I'd wanted to surprise him, but I couldn't wait.  Most nights after class I would call him on the way home and tell him what we'd discussed.  He was so encouraging, he kept me going when I felt totally overwhelmed and wanted to quit several times.  I'll never forget the first night in class that we all strummed through a song while Bob played and sang the melody.  It was mostly using only G, and maybe a C, but it was exhilarating when we ended the song and I realized I had pretty much kept up and we had completed a song!  That night I called my dad and told him I had played a song, and it was cool to hear his chuckle of approval! 

  My very favorite class was when Bob taught us how to read tab notes.  It felt like a light bulb went on in my head.  I had picked around on a piano years before, and I knew a little about reading notes.  So tab notes made sense to me, and I could finally pick up my guitar and hear a tune, a real song, coming from it. 

  These days, I'd love to say that I practice and play my guitar often and entertain others with it.  But lying is a sin, so I won't do that!  I do pick it up and remind myself of the basics every so often, then sit and pick out a few songs.  I have played with my dad a few times, and my sister.  I'm ashamed to admit that the last time I did, my dad could tell right away that I had NOT been practicing!  Daddy doesn't get out much anymore, and spending time with him and my guitar is one way I can bring him happiness. 

  Taking lessons from Bob gave me the basics of guitar playing and one day I may be ready to play more and use it for others.  Right now though I am content to know how to pick a tune out of it and enjoy it in my own home and occasionally with my dad and sister.  

  Thank you, Bob, for your patience and for never ever making me feel that playing was out of my league and above my head (because I sure felt that way).  You always assured me that I was capable of learning, and helped me to believe in myself.  I appreciate the opportunity you gave me and am so glad you were open to using a talent you have to glorify God and benefit others.  You have proven that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!  

Libby Owens