In an attempt to bolster support for the guitar program, Pacific Lutheran University’s department of music sought the help of professional musicians to teach at the fourth annual guitar festival.
The event took place Saturday in the Mary Baker Russell Music Center.
Elizabeth Brown, a senior lecturer of music and head of PLU’s guitar and lute program, organized the event.
“We are trying to gain a little more visibility for the guitar program at PLU,” Brown said. “This is currently the only standing guitar festival in Western Washington.”
The festival was an all-day event featuring multiple workshops aimed at helping beginner and intermediate guitar enthusiasts alike to become better musicians.
“Anyone can play the guitar,” Brown said. “You’ve got to take it slow and be extremely patient with yourself.”
Workshops included hands on classes where participants who brought a guitar could learn basic rhythm accompaniments as well as more advanced harmonic and melodic motion techniques.
First-year Elizabeth Ferking said she had a lot of fun at the event.
“The festival was pretty good,” Ferking said. “It was well put together and they [the festival] featured some nice workshops.”
After lunch, guitarists had the chance to perform their new-found skills for a crowd of about 80 in Lagerquist Concert Hall. The orchestra concert embodied some of Brown’s regular PLU guitar students along with anyone from the guitar festival who wanted to join in and play.
“I rather enjoyed the orchestra concert,” Tacoma resident Robert Murphy said. “It was nice to see people of all musical backgrounds, who barely know each other, come together to play a beautiful piece of music.”
The remainder of the afternoon was filled with professional musicians such as Bill Clements of Rosewood Guitar in Seattle and professional Flamenco guitarist Eric Jaeger.
Clements showcased his collection of handcrafted rosewood classical guitars valued at about $50,000 per instrument. His colleague and professional guitarist Matt Anderson, played a piece on each guitar so festival participants could hear the subtle differences in the individual instruments.
“My favorite workshop was the guitar listening session,” Ferking said. “It was nice to hear the different sounds in all of the different guitars.”
The flamenco session gave students a crash course that covered the basic fundamentals of the picado and rasgueado techniques.
Musicians perform the picado technique by playing alternately with the index and middle fingers and bracing the other fingers on the strings just above those being played. Rasgueado requires the guitarist to strum the strings downwards with outward flicks of the right hand.
“As a classical guitarist, I think that Flamenco is an obvious progression,” Murphy said. “I enjoyed the workshop and am excited to start learning the style.”
The performance from the PLU guitar faculty wrapped up the festival.
Brown and PLU lecturer Stephen Howland, who teaches jazz and classical guitar, were accompanied by guest performers Marco De Carvalho, Nate Omdal and Gordy Ryan. They treated the audience to a three-part performance of classical guitar, solos and duos and some original works for the Latin jazz ensemble.
Brown said she loves the fact that many of her students are guitar hobbyists and are not striving to become professional musicians.
“It’s fabulous that we have recorded music,” Brown said, “but I love seeing people make their own music. In ancient times, if people wanted music, they had to make it on the spot. Making music is just a part of being human.” ◼︎