Feeding the Passion
By Daniel Martinez
In my early childhood I found a deep love for music. I did not understand the mechanics and theory at all but I tried imitating singers and instrument parts with my own voice. Growing up with separated parents, both of which were absent at different times, my passion went unnoticed and neglected. As a high school sophomore I enrolled in a guitar class provided by the local high school. I was not aware that the State of New Mexico Department of Education had been cutting funds from arts programs for years, but I saw the impact. There was no permanent teacher for the class, no textbooks and no in-class instruments. Fortunately my older sister bought my first guitar for me.
The temporary instructor would hand out beginner level sheet music along with instructions on how to read it. Every two weeks we would play the song, something like “Ode to Joy” or “Frere Jacques”, for the instructor. If we could play it, we received an “A”. I learned that the majority of the students had received private lessons outside of school, and they helped me with things like basic fretting technique and picking. One semester later I purchased some beginner books to study on my own. A friend of mine dropped out of collage around the same time and gave me his music theory textbook. It is titled “ The Complete Musician “.
I completed the guitar class and began looking for a private instructor. I soon learned that they cost a lot of money ( $25 a lesson seemed like a lot to me in high school ), and decided that I was learning just fine on my own. “ The Complete Musician “ is designed for all four years of undergraduate music theory, and is incredibly dense in its informational content. I spent the next eight years absorbing its information and, in the early years, the beginner books I had purchased helped me to work through the college textbook.
Ten years later, I learn that the high school students are having the same experience. This is when I made the decision to provide an immersive guitar class which would cover basic fretting and strumming technique, music theory, aural (ear) training, and music appreciation. I sent a letter home with the interns announcing my class.