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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

The Virtuous Guitarist Is One for All Seasons Not Just For Christmas

- vir·tu·ous (vûrch-s) = having or showing virtue -

Imagine yourself sitting around the log-fire on Christmas day with the extended family around you. Some of them, maybe the older ones, are half reclined in slumbering mode, the very young ones are charging around full of energy. Aunt Mavis over there is wide awake and chattering away. She loves music and singing, and has always been really keen on your guitar-playing. Suddenly she looks up at you, eye-brows raised in anticipation and says “why don’t you take out your guitar so we can sing a few Christmas carols and songs?” You think to yourself, I can’t do that. I don’t know the chords. I think I have a book of Christmas carols arranged for guitar somewhere but my reading is not up to speed. For a brief moment you are really upset with yourself. But actually there is a way forward.

Let me take you back to the title at the top of the page. You may be forgiven for reading at first glance the word “virtuoso” rather than virtuous - that is why I have spelt it out for you as it appears in the free dictionary.

Virtuoso, on the other hand, is defined as “a musician with masterly ability, technique, or personal style”. Clearly there is a strong connection between the two, The differences lie in the “masterly ability” of the virtuoso and in the “moral excellence” of the virtuous. “Moral” is a dangerous old word, so let me substitute it with a few less loaded and more appropriate descriptions of the “virtuous” guitarist. Allow me to keep the word excellence. You could become an excellent all-round musician without reaching the dazzling heights as a player designated by the description “virtuoso” There are other skills you could develop.

How about these?

1. arranging
2. composing
3. improving your sight-reading
4. improving your knowledge of harmony and chords
5. playing chamber music
6. improvising

All these descriptions could be proudly included in your range of skills, and not necessarily all of them. Any three would be enough to get on with. Virtuosity could become the target at the end of the rainbow, even over the rainbow (I think the lyrics of that song are as good as the tune itself – but that’s another story). It could give you the impetus, that burning desire to continue your practice and your dream. At the same time you could slowly and steadily build up all the other skills, the virtuous skills, which are more easily within your reach. As you do so, your technique will develop in leaps and bounds because you will be less anxious about it, having set a more realistic target. By these means, you will be closer to becoming a virtuoso than you once imagined.

So why not make a start now on becoming a virtuous guitarist, even turn it into your New Year’s resolution? The first one to be pleased and impressed would be Aunt Mavis, who come next year, will congratulate you on your progress as you confidently strum a few telling accompaniments, improvise connecting links, change key to suit her singing voice, and play a solo or two on request. “Your playing has really come on this year” she will say. “Have you been taking lessons?”

Your reply could be yes, and you might add “I decided to become a virtuous guitarist, too.” And not just at Christmas time.

15th December 2013, London

For a complete index to my blogs including more about the virtuous guitarist click here

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=2885 .
© 2017.

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