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Informal review of 'Practicing: A Musician's Return to Music' by Glenn Kurtz

September 12, 2010 at 10:16 PM

(Alfred A. Knopf, 2007)

I came across this book at my local public library and checked it out
because I had already read all the books they have about violinists.
Glenn Kurtz writes well and I thought this book might interest many
v.commies.  The author actually ended up with a PhD in Literature,
and when he wasn't doing too much self analysis, I thoroughly enjoyed his
writing style.
The author is a classical guitarist and the book is about his lifetime
relationship with the guitar, discussed from the point of view of
practicing.  I found the first chapter (a monolog detailing a practice
session) tedious but the book really picked up when he described his
experience as a student at the New England Conservatory.  Even though
he seems to have been there in the 70's, I would imagine the day to day
life in a conservatory isn't wasn't too different then than it is now
(except possibly the level of competition?).  Some of his comments about
other instrumentalists were amusing.  ("Violinists develop a dark, ugly
mole under their chin...")  But he was also envious of them--the concert
opportunities for guitarists are many fewer than for string players.

In general, I found the book to be "a good read".  A lot of what he
wrote pertains to the study of any western orchestral instrument.  Along
with his thoughts on practicing, discussions of guitar repertoire and
the usefulness of method books appear throughout the book.

The book concludes with sections on specific recommendations by topic:

* Repertoire (Examples: transcriptions of works by Bach, including the
  unaccompanied cello suites and the Chaconne, as well as Bach lute

* Books on guitar method and practicing in general

* Stand-out recordings



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