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How to eat an Elephant

One bite at a time...

I’ve got my rep list down to 13, which is pretty great considering I had 24 last week to choose from. I narrowed down based on a few factors:

  1. Realistic given skill and time

  2. Entertaining for primary audience

  3. Not completely unknown to primary audience if classical

  4. Not too cliché

  5. Opportunity to make my own in some way

  6. Showcase classical guitar skill

  7. Showcase the capabilities of the guitar

#1 is what I’m most anxious to explore. I have no idea where my skills could go, so in the end this factor simply may trump them all because I might not be able to play some of these pieces. But I’m gonna have a hell of a time trying to get there and I need to completely remove the word “can’t” from my vocabulary for this project to be successful. I “can’t” afford to doubt myself. I need to believe I can accomplish anything.

My wife, Hilary, is an amazing mother to our children. It’s a loaded statement, but our daughter is taking piano lessons, and the pieces she is learning are getting increasingly more challenging. To help make learning the pieces less overwhelming, Hilary uses the analogy “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…” Our daughter is now learning to break the piece up into to “bite-sized chunks” to practice at a time. And it’s really helping her to tackle these more challenging pieces without becoming overwhelmed or frustrated.

I spent the week practicing “Asturias” by Isaac Albeniz (1860 – 1909). It will likely be the most technically challenging piece of the whole concert. Picture our living room; our two boys running around playing, Hilary getting some work done on the computer, our daughter quietly braiding her doll’s hair on the floor, and there's me...on the couch, struggling to get this piece up to the right speed, visibly frustrated. Then suddenly, this sweet, soft voice floats up from the floor and says, “Remember Papa, you eat an elephant one bite at a time!” Immediately I smile, and my shoulders relax, and I start practicing the way we preach. It’s a beautiful moment that we share not only for the project, but for my daughter who is witnessing her own father applying that simple method. She gets to see me struggle, and figure things out and persevere. If we can be an inspiration for each other, what more could a father ask for? That’s what success for The GuitarBorn Project looks like to me.

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