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Instrumental Influences: Reflections on the Classical Guitar From the Instrument's Most Influential Performers and Pedagogues Paperback – March 31, 2011
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"Instrumental Influences is a veritable treasure-trove of anecdote and insight into the world of music making from some of today's great masters who live and breathe the guitar. Author Donn LeVie Jr. provides a significant contribution to the musician's literature that probes the questions of what is required to become, and what it means to be, a great musician."
Andrew Zohn, DM
"In Instrumental Influences, Donn LeVie Jr. has collected the thoughts and inside reflections from many of the most dedicated and experienced pedagogues and performers in the field and stitched them together (along with his own contributions) in this insightful and coherent guide. Any guitarist seeking illumination along their bewildering inner journey will find guidance from this wealth of anecdotes and impressions."
Guitar Salon International
From the Author
More than a few people told me that getting some of the world's best classical guitar artists and teachers to provide essays for a book would be like herding cats, with so many involved with busy touring and teaching schedules and living all over the world. To my surprise--and theirs--it was far easier than I ever hoped it would be. Each artist was so very approachable and excited to participate in this first-of-its-kind project that focused on the inner reasons and influences for teaching and performing on classical guitar. Each artist selected which chapter "influence" to write about, and some provided more than one essay for more than one influence.
I offer my own perspectives on these influences as a classical guitarist (solo and at times with my Allegro Austin flute partner) who performs on much smaller stages and for smaller audiences--mostly church congregations, house concerts, senior living centers, hospitals, schools, museums, wedding receptions, libraries, community centers, private corporate functions, civic organizations, and so on. As such, I present one facet of the "everyman guitarist" who, through choice or circumstance, lies farther below the radar than any of the guest essayists in this book.
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Based on actual page counts, 42% of the content of this book was written by the editor, Mr. Levie. The remaining 58% are essays from "the Instrument's Most Influential Performers and Pedagogues". That 58% could be reduced even further since each contributor gets a biography and promotional write-up after their essay. The essays by Margarita Escarpa and Marco Tamayo are printed twice; first in Spanish and again translated into English. As one reads this book, one forms the impression that there's a lot of filler material that adds little value.
Note also that the essay from Christopher Parkening is not an original for this book. Mr. Parkening had simply sent the editor a copy of an old essay.
The essays from the contributing artists and teachers were among their lighter works in my humble opinion. I found them only slightly helpful. I think the editor recognized this and that is why he chose to fatten-up the book with his own droll material about his learning experiences. In some sections, his own "memoirs" (calling them "essays" would be too charitable) are notably longer. The end results are too many words with very, very few kernels of wisdom, inspiration or entertainment - if any at all since I can recollect absolutely nothing of value that I got from it.
I gave the book away for a library sale.
The award of "Performing Arts/Music RUNNER-UP of the 2011 GLOBAL eBOOK AWARD" is absolute rubbish. Self-submission is the sole method of qualification as a runner-up for this so-called award and there were only two entrants in this category (that's TWO ... not "hundreds"). The winning entry was "So You Think Your Life's A Movie? -- Ten Steps To A Script That Sells" by Linda Bergman. This award is for all purposes a give-away citation to claim false honors and promote the book's sales. You can do your own research on Google if you disagree.
There are other books out there with better content and which are a greater value for your money. I got far more from a very short conversation between Eric Clapton and John Williams (published in the book "Making Music" by George Martin) than from anything in this book. You can find a short excerpt on the web. If you want an absolute gem to hold forever, try "Julian Bream: A Life on The Road" by Tony Palmer.
You can even sit through the many interviews provided by The Classical Guitar Blog on YouTube. The subjects of these interviews include: Scott Tennant, Jason Vieaux, Andrew Schulman, Heike Matthiesen, Denis Azabagic, Johannes Möller, Matt Palmer and more. These are all in-depth and free.
I should mention that the editor earlier responded with a review of his own and accused me of "bad math" citing essay counts rather than page counts (claiming he only wrote 36% of the book). He also rated his own book five stars, emphasized the value of his questionable book award, and slighted me with an ad hominem attack. He has since deleted his self-serving review.
Note that Bruce Canafax's 5-star rating is probably just a sock-puppet review from an associate of Mr. Levie. It's Mr. Canafax's only review.
Frankly, I would have much rather read the comments from a broader cross-section of professional, performing and world class guitarists. My guess is that there was not enough incentive ($ ?) for many to respond when he was compiling information to build this book. (Did he ask for free input and then hope to make money off of others efforts? That sounds devious, which it probably was not intended to be, but might have left a bad or erroneous impression in some minds.) It's been a couple of years since I read "Instrumental Influences", but if I recall correctly, there is at least one chapter that is printed in English and then repeated in Spanish (the guitarist is Spanish). That would be understandable in a 300+ page text, but was obvious filler to me in this instance. Still, some is better than none, and for that reason it's worth a reading, but I wouldn't consider it a reference text.
I’m a reasonably accomplished classical guitarist and teacher. I also have low vision and thus depend a lot on using VoiceOver on my Mac for reading books. As so many publishers do, the publisher of this book has excluded those of us with visual impairments from equally enjoying the same books as the sighted community.
Most of my reading is done through Audible. A company that has on its serving plate somewhere close to a million titles. It has been a great resource for the visually as well as dyslexia challenged. But they can’t possibly have recorded all the niche books like this one. Thus we second-class citizens have to use our computers to make these books accessible. So along comes Amazon and bows down to the publishers saying, “Of course we’ll do your bidding and use digital rights management to exclude many would-be buyers of your books. I thought Amazon was going to require that a publisher make a book accessible to all. Well, in this case they haven’t. Oh, BTW Amazon has purchased Audible a while back. When I heard that, I was horrified. I have to say though, Amazon has left them alone, and Audible has only improved.
I feel that I should give this book only one star, but I’ll be glad to give it 2 since what I was able to read of it did seem to have some promise. There are ways to procure pirated copies of books, and because of the mood I’m in I might just get one.