For quite some time, I’ve been meaning to mention James Boyd, a virtuoso concert guitarist based here in Norfolk. I’m fortunate enough to have lessons with James and he is, without a doubt, one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met.
When I first went along to see James, I don’t mind admitting I was very, very nervous. I hadn’t had much luck with teachers, was petrified of playing in front of other people and, aware of how good James was, was worried he would simply confirm my fears: that I was actually rather crap and should stop playing altogether.
Boy, was I surprised.
Within the first lesson, James had got right to the issue and got me actually playing. I’d been struggling along, on and off, for decades and had always stalled at the same page on the same book… and then eventually given up.
I’d gone along to that first lesson with some preconceptions; scales, grades, strict regimens of practice and so on. However, the conversation ran something like this:
“Do I need to think about grades?”
“Do you want to?”
“Well don’t do them then.”
“I guess I’ll have to study scales?”
“You can, but why not just do them when they crop up in a piece of music?”
James won the Julian Bream prize at the Royal Academy of Music when he was there and now travels all over the world giving recitals and concerts. He knows what the pitfalls are and his emphasis is always on being a good musician, not on “producing notes”. More to the point, he’s overcome all these obstacles in the context of world-class performance. This is why I’d always recommend learning from a pro player.
I’m aware that this post could become a hagiography, but when you’ve had the frustration of never quite getting it right and then come across someone who helps you succeed and tells you you’re a good player (and James never bullshits people)… well, those moments are gold dust.
I’ll leave you with a link to one of James’ executive training sessions. He’s taken all that he’s learned over years of playing the guitar professionally and applied it to business development and corporate learning strategies. I think you’ll agree, he’s someone you could listen to for hours.