JFCAHBBH!? Another acronym?

More guitarists playing together – in this case, 50 of them, from different guitar societies across the UK. The Federation of Guitar Societies

I had the privilege of meeting these dedicated souls,

organised by Martin Shaw  this afternoon. It was a parley of instruments – real communication and fun teamwork. Another example of “team playing”. No jockeying for position, just a sharing of our common love of the guitar and its beautiful sound.

Another instance of finger posting(??). Many old friends were in the ensemble, including Pete Nuttall (with whom I shared a room at school) and John Edwards, the man responsible for my return to Oxford as guitar  teacher and home owner. Even Eric Hill, one of my early heroes (who made a fine recording of Villa Lobos Preludes when the only other contender available was by Bream) was in the orchestra! His friend and guitar maker David Merrin was also playing. Oxford Guitar Society with Steve Greenslade and friends was also represented. Alison was unfortunately otherwise occupied with the Aragon Quartet.

It was fun, and most had looked at the music for “Blue Nose Ballads” which I had written for 4 guitar parts.

I was happy because there were at least 2 reliable players  out of 10-12 in each voice.
(Gerald’s Golden Rule of Guitar Ensemble Playing – one reliable player per guitar part, no matter how simple is my minimum for a smooth rendition of a piece – a mistake many amateur groups make is to put all their good players in Guitar 1, and let the other parts muddle along. A good ensemble player enjoys making sense of a “simpler” part).
In a democratic group, every level of player is found in each part, but this doesn’t really work either, as less experienced players can be intimidated by prominent high passages. Most ensemble pieces and arrangements in 4 parts have the order of difficulty – Guitars 2,1,4,3.

It all went very well. And we had lunch. Courtesy of Marks and Spencer!

The spirit of true amateurism (amatores, or  lovers) is alive and well in this country, at least in the musical microcosm that is classical guitar ensemble playing. Thank you Federation of Guitar Societies. Thank you Martin.

Last year’s meeting