What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar?
Growing up, it was important to my parents for their children to get exposure to music. We each took piano and accordion lessons. Neither of those instruments piqued my curiosity much so my mom recommended guitar. Being able to carry a tune, combined with strumming a guitar was a perfect fit for me growing up.
How long have you been playing and what is your motivation to play?
Now at age 58, I’ve been playing off and on since 3rd grade. The busyness of life with marriage, raising children and work were a much higher priority for the better part of 40 years. I did manage to play sing a long songs for Sunday school classes over the years. 5 years ago I made studying music theory (as applied to the guitar) and playing guitar a priority again. In that time I purchased 3 guitars. Started out with a classical guitar (Cordoba). 2 years later I bought a Martin. 2 years later I purchased a Fender Strat. It’s hard to pinpoint what motivates me to play. I find myself almost spellbound listening to musicians who really know how to play. I’ve grown in my ability to play by leaps and bounds over the last 5 years. As I develop better technique and gain in guitar knowledge, I’m learning there is so much more to learn. I’m just experiencing the tip of the iceberg of what I hope to be able to play on the guitar in the out years. The discipline that I’m most drawn to at this time is fingerstyle.
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
The first songs I heard on Ben’s site that got my attention were fingerstyle, “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art”. The arrangements of these classic hymns were beautiful. I had to learn them. They were the first songs I’ve been able to commit to memory. I’ve always had to play with music in front of me. Ben’s approach to teaching and his personal responses to my e-mail questions has provided me the confidence that I can learn songs completely and not have to have music in front of me in order to play.
What’s your goal when playing?
My goals when playing guitar have changed a bit. I have somewhat of a perfectionist approach to life. So I naturally want to play songs perfectly, with exact tone and no mistakes. I’ve found myself getting frustrated that I can play a song hundreds of times, yet when I play in front of others, the nerves get the better of me and those pure tones don’t come as easily as when I play by myself. I’ve had to adjust my expectations quite a bit. Now I work on having fun with playing, being thankful for the abilities I do have and the pleasure and joy it brings me and others when I play/sing. I’m fortunate that I have some very supportive family members that encourage me to get out my guitar and play for them whenever they visit. This has dramatically helped me to get out of my closet guitar player mentality. There are so many beautiful arrangements for guitar. They need to be learned and shared with others.
Are there any other instruments of genres of music that you enjoy playing?
Guitar is the only instrument I play. I enjoy a variety of genres. I grew up listening to Casey Kasem’s top 40. I tend to migrate to songs from yesteryear (i.e. Fly me to the Moon, King of the road, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, If I only had a brain, Ghost riders in the sky etc). I also enjoy learning love songs (i.e. Once, twice, 3 times a lady; You are so beautiful to me). I also have 10 or so patriotic songs that I enjoy playing.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Without a doubt, I would get out my growing binder of amazing fingerstyle arrangements and pour myself into them.
How long have you been a Gold Pick Member?
I believe I stumbled onto Banjo Ben Clark’s website about 2 years ago. I really enjoy Ben’s arrangements, his style of teaching and the variety of resources he provides members, all geared to accelerate our learning and love of music. It was an easy decision to sign up to become a gold pick member.
What do you do for a living?
After 30 wonderful years serving in the world’s greatest Navy, I’ve retired to the Sonoran desert in Apache Junction, Arizona. We picked central Arizona so we would be close to our parents and be available for them as they age. I’ve spent the last 3 years building our dream home on an acre and a quarter of paradise at the foot of the superstition mountains. We are truly blessed to live in this amazing part of God’s creation. I spend my time, dinking around on the property, learning fingerstyle arrangements and playing acoustic geetar in one of the bands at our church.
What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
For me, the most amazing adventure would be centered around nature and wildlife. I am fascinated by creation. If I could go on a hiking, camping trip that takes me into the mountains and canyons and see the night stars and wildlife up close, it just wouldn’t get much better than that. This year, my wife and I, our daughter and her husband were able to take a 3 day hike down into the Grand Canyon. There wasn’t much in the way of wildlife, but the natural beauty of the Canyon was over the top. Would do it again in a heartbeat.