musician

Roger Humphrey: One Teacher’s Commitment to Shaping the Future of Classical Guitar

Roger Humphrey is a classical guitar artist and teacher, and a genuinely decent and humorous person I have the pleasure of calling teacher and friend. My son has taken lessons with Roger since he was six years old. He is now nine, and his time with Roger has shaped him into a musician with potential and a little man with focus and heart. If you don’t think a music teacher can shape a child this way, you need to meet Roger. It has been my privilege to also take lessons with him since the beginning of this year, and the path forward I see involves beautiful classical music on the strings of my Cordoba and betterment as a person for knowing Roger both as a parent and a student.

Roger is savvy with technology. He understands where it can assist in spreading classical guitar interest and education to a larger audience of young and not so young aspiring musicians. So, when I asked him for an interview and time from his busy teaching and playing life, he agreed to FaceTime with me and made my heart and mind play Ode to Joy on repeat. I present the first part of our interview below, focusing on Roger’s path to classical guitar and a touching piece of his musical history. I look forward to sharing the next half of this interview on Thursday, February 11, 2016.

When did you start learning to play classical guitar and why?

I was 22 years old and had already performing as a guitar player. I was not happy with my abilities at the time and started to consider learning classical guitar. I fell in love with the music after hitting the wrong button on a jukebox and hearing Jethro Tull play Bach. I was in the military at the time, and I needed to be able to play at least this song if nothing else. Then, once I started learning classical, it always became one more song.

This was an abrupt change of heart for me. I took time off from performing for about 10 years while still teaching and working. I was hooked.

Was music an important part of your life and/or household growing up?

Not in a particular way. Both of my grandfathers played fiddle, although neither one of them would play in front of anyone. My father played accordion, which was the coolest thing to listen to, but he was just daddy to me, not a musician.

As for me, I liked music in general, and I was encouraged by my father to play. My mom tolerated my playing, but neither my dad nor mom wanted me to go pro and consider music as a livelihood.

Was there a turning point for your parents on your choice of music as a career?

I was performing a couple of years after the military when I met first wife. I had to learn to balance a day job, being married, and my first child. My parents were proud of my decision to balance life this way, but it was hard. During the downturn of the 70s, the company I was working for filed Chapter 11, and I was out of a job. I started teaching guitar until I could find another day job. I eventually found another job and kept teaching at Marshall Music in the evenings. I was competent at my day jobs, but it was not a good way of life for me. I hated going to work. So I put pencil to paper to figure out how I could make a living at teaching classical guitar, and I began my new career. This concerned my parents.

My mother has been gone 20 years, and she never quite understood my decision. I have enough of her in me which lead me to walk my own path. She was just quiet as I did.

As for my father, five years before he passed away, it was my turn to drive him to his snowbird destination, and we spent a few days together. This was the most time we spent together since I was a boy due to an estrangement, and he came to understand and accept why I was doing what I was doing.

Return Thursday for more of Roger’s story, including his experience teaching and his views on where classical guitar is going. There is also a love story in the next blog!

Links to Roger:

http://www.rogerhumphrey.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RogerHumphreyClassicalGuitar/

http://rhumphrey223.blogspot.com/

 

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musician, Uncategorized

The Art of Learning Music

Hello. I am back after a break where I assisted in running a fabulous writing conference and completed two major work projects. During these events in my life, one thing remained consistent: my effort to learn music.

Through my full immersion into learning bluegrass banjo over the past year, followed by starting down the path to electric and classical guitar, I have learned more about myself as a person than ever before, including the following:

  1. I have a remarkable work ethic and a dogged desire to keep at something until I get it right, and
  2. I have a knack for finding the right people to be partners in my learning.

I am sure some people are born with a natural fluency for music, and they quickly find the right strings, keys, percussion points, and breaths of air to produce beautiful noise. I, on the other hand, liken my fingers finding the right strings and frets on my banjo and guitars to drunk giraffes (nice, longish fingers with decent nails) wandering the Serengeti aimlessly, eventually becoming entangled in the chaos. So, I have to work really hard at learning, and I rely heavily on daily practice and various resources to learn. There is an art to learning the art of music, and here are the mediums I use to learn.

I practice, on average, one hour a day. As often as I can, I try to increase this by a half hour to one hour or find moments in the day where I can pick up an instrument and perform one piece of music or an exercise (even scales) quickly between life’s activities. I use a metronome for a portion of all practices, and I touch all three instruments daily. It is my labor of love, and one I have been engaging in for nearly 365 days straight since 2/7/2015. Doing the math now, and I’m going to guess I have practiced between 450 and 500 hours. This would equate to me practicing for nearly 21 days straight at the high end if somebody locked me up and threw away the key, and I did not sleep or eat or etc. I am not planning on this by the way! Music is life, and you must live life to make music.

I also find time to read music theory books and relevant magazines and newsletters as well as watch YouTube performances or lessons to learn from those much more talented than me. I am never without tunes in my ear whether at work or play, and I study and listen to the greats for each instrument.

All of this is wonderful, filling my soul cup daily with bourbon, and I am making significant progress as a result of the effort and focus. There is something much more important than this though. I could not do this without the help and guidance of two talented, interesting, and dedicated instructors for helping me along the path to playing music beautifully.

Recently, I was given the gift of an interview with my classical guitar teacher, Roger Humphrey. I will be sharing his story, wit, and wisdom in a two part blog special starting tomorrow. I hope you will stay with me on this journey.

In the meantime, please check out Roger online:

http://www.rogerhumphrey.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RogerHumphreyClassicalGuitar/

http://rhumphrey223.blogspot.com/

 

 

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