Julian Bream on Banana Fingers and Showing Up Anyway
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here.
“My fingers are like a bunch of bananas, so tonight’s concert in Aalst may well be an earplug job.”
Julian Bream is one of classical guitar’s most colorful characters. He used to book all his own world tours and travel arrangements – by mail! Then he’d travel by train and boat to perform, learning the next season’s music as he went.
His upbeat attitude and love of music won fans everywhere he went.
This funny quote is typical Bream: honest, realistic, and willing to keep going.
In our own practices, it’s easy to get discouraged.
We may be having a crisis of faith, or just on a plateau (where all the good stuff really happens, though it doesn’t feel like it).
We may get busy and miss a few days, and feel like we’re backsliding.
We may look ahead and wonder if we’re up for the journey.
Bream fell a few years ago while out walking his dog and can no longer play. But he still studies music. He says he’s a much better musician now than he was 10 years ago (though he can’t prove it).
He told The Guardian, “The whole idea is that I believe it’s very good for one’s brain and muscular system to work in harmony. If you keep up your playing it just keeps things ticking over.”
The point is not to gain some goal or reach some pinnacle of accomplishment. Instead, the joy lies in showing up and spending the time. The point isn’t to play perfectly. We strive, but perfection is not the point. The point is just to sit down and play (even if our fingers are bananas and it’s an earplug job!)
Hi, I’m Allen Mathews.
I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.
Thanks to you (you are my only teacher) in only a few months I've gone from very basic beginner pieces to having just completed learning Bach's Gavottes 1&2 in good form and execution. As a non-classical electric guitarist who has always used a pick and never his fingers, this has been no small feat!
I am truly enjoying the growth and challenge that the Woodshed material provides. I look forward to working hard and learning much in the years ahead. Thanks for all the effort and care that you have taken in providing these lessons and resources!
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