de la Alhambra
It was a small coffee shop and I had been
performing there off and on for about 3 years. The pay was really
low, $35 for two hours. I usually avoid such low paying gigs but
for some reason I kept playing there.
There is nothing really special
about the place and the coffee crowd is unappreciative at best.
I play Classical Guitar music from noon to 2:00 PM. Usually I time my
last few pieces so I can get up and go precisely at the end of my gig.
But this day I had a different idea. I had been struggling with the
need to love guitar playing.
Playing professionally can really take a toll on your soul and I have to
keep on reminding myself that I love what I do. I don't have to
remind myself that this is what I am meant to do or that it is the focus of my
whole life but loving it is entirely different. So I decided I
would play another piece after 2:00 PM and I had never played past quitting
I wanted to play a piece I love to play and really enjoy
what I was doing, knowing that my obligation of playing till 2:00 PM was
fulfilled. The piece I chose was "Recuerdos de la
Alhambra" by Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909).
Among Classical Guitarists
it is a well known part of the Repertoire. It is frequently overlooked for two
reasons. First, it is so ingrained into the memory of the accomplished
Classical Guitarist that it seems like a song that receives too much air
play on the radio. Second, it is a difficult piece to play well
because it is a Tremolo piece.
There is a little rhyme among Classical
Guitarists which sheds light on the difficulty of playing a tremolo,
"I feel so low, I'm playing a tremolo". The reason we feel so
low while playing a tremolo is because we play it so poorly, and many guitarists
will go their entire careers without performing a tremolo piece in public.
In my late twenties I decided it was high time I buckled down and developed a
presentable tremolo. The first thing I discovered is that in order to
play it I had to shed any feelings of inadequacy. My new mantra was,
"I feel like a king, my tremolo rings".
Now in my mid
30's I have a very good tremolo and the work to develop it was worth the
effort. Tremolo pieces are incredibly heart warming and "Recuerdos
de la Alhambra" is arguably the most beautiful piece ever written
for the guitar.
So at 2:00 PM I lowered my head for a moment of
concentration before I began the piece.
Just before I started, a
woman walked in front of me, put a dollar in my tip jar, and asked
inquisitively, "Can you play Recuerdos de la Alhambra"?
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