When I was a freshman in high school, I desperately wanted to join the folk group, but they didn’t need singers. (I was convinced they needed me, but they thought they probably didn’t.) My other singer friends all decided that glee club would have to be enough, but I was determined to get my foot in that door. My parents had given me a Spanish guitar for my graduation from 8th grade, but I hadn’t really done anything with it yet. I decided I would learn to play the guitar so I could get into folk group. I told them I would learn and come back. They laughed at me and presumably expected not to see me again. I bought a book of chords and convinced one of the older girls (who became a very close friend) to show me the basics of finger placement, etc. In 3 weeks, I went back to the folk group, played for them, and was admitted. (It never occurred to me that I couldn’t, so I just did.) My playing improved by leaps and bounds over that first year, and by the summer before Sophomore year, I was pretty good. My guitar bestie, MaryEllen and I spent the summer playing and singing (and winning) at talent competitions all over Long Island. The guitar (and MaryEllen) and I were inseparable.
I loved to challenge myself, so at some point I decided to teach myself classical guitar. My sheet music reading skills weren’t very good (I never really did get the hang of that), so though I learned to play a couple of pieces somewhat skillfully, my classical guitar endeavors were mostly unsuccessful. I still think of that experience as my first taste of failure. However, that period when I was struggling with classical guitar gave me a deep love of the stuff. Ever since, the classical guitar recordings by Andrés Segovia have been a big part of the soundtrack of my life. The album below was the one I played on repeat as I did my homework, read, and got ready for bed each night, and I still associate it with happy times spent in my childhood bedroom.
Segovia is the acknowledged father of classical guitar, and he performed for nearly 80 years, right up until his death at age 94. He apparently didn’t suffer from self esteem issues. After reading the review of his first concert at the age of 16, he dubbed himself “The Apostle of the Guitar.” He must have been an insufferable kid, but he wasn’t wrong. He really was that talented. The self-taught musician is also credited with inventing the nylon guitar string, which is much more stable (and palatable) than the previously-used catgut (which was not, you will be relieved to hear, actually made from cats).
You can learn more about Andrés Segovia on his Encyclopedia Britannica page.