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Mr. Angelo Zappia

My Landlord Mr. Angelo Zappia was responsible for my first exposure to the guitar. He was an Italian immigrant who played the guitar and mandolin. As a young 12-year-old boy lying in my bed with an open window I could hear him singing the most haunting and beautiful Neapolitan songs late into the evening. One day I went upstairs to his flat to play with his dog King. His guitar was lying on the couch and I ran a finger over the strings. He told me to sit down and he handed me the guitar. He taught me three basic chords, G, C, and D7 so I could accompany him while he played the Mandolin. Every time I was supposed to change chords while he was playing he would shake his head. Of course I could not get to the chord in time so he would swear. I remember the first song he taught me to accompany, it was the waltz, Over The Waves. That innocent incident determined my life’s work. In my later years as I became successful he would proudly say that’s my student. Isn’t it amazing how a simple incident can affect another human being? That incident became my life’s work.

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Harry Belafonte

When I was working with Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba I was playing electric guitar. One evening during a performance one of the dancers accidentally pulled the electric chord to my amplifier and consequently I could not be heard. That evening Harry insisted that I play classic guitar because the nylon string sound was what he wanted.

Ernie Calabria and Millard Thomas were two very talented classic guitarists that had been with Harry for a long time. They both had Manuel Velasquez guitars which had a wonderful sound, and they advised me to purchase a Velasquez guitar which I did.

Here I am between two accomplished classic guitarists and I am a totally ignorant about right hand classic guitar technique. I started working night and day to develop my right hand technique and as I got into the repertoire I fell in love with the classic guitar literature. I found the sound of the classic guitar so seductive I started putting 7 to 8 hours per day into my studies. Millard Thomas had given me method books by Sagreras and through my investigations I found the marvelous method books of Emilio Pujol, Dionisio Aguado, the 25 Melodious Studies of Carcassi, the 20 Sor studies edited by Segovia and the 120 arpeggio studies of Mauro Giuliani. Harry’s insistence that I play classic guitar has brought me life long pleasure and passion for the beauty of the classic guitar and it’s magnificent literature.

When I quit Harry he kept calling me to come back. I did not like the road and living out of a suitcase. I also had family obligations. I have fond memories of the very kind Norman Keenan the bassist, guitarists Millard Thomas and Ernie Calabria, and Danny Barrajanos the conga player.

Ernie and Millard would take off their makeup and change clothes in Olympic record time. The minute the curtain went down it was girl chasing time. The stage door entrance always had an abundance of beautiful women. It was a candy store and these two guys had it down to a fine art. They were really a piece of work.

Harry used to carry a psychiatrist on the road. Harry said we could have use of the shrink so Ernie Calabria and Millard Thomas went on the couch and kept bugging me to get on the couch. I told them I didn’t hate my mother and father and whether I chose to eat carrots or peas for dinner was not a traumatic experience for me. I didn’t get on the couch. Instead I took the time to improve my guitar skills.

I had one dispute with Harry. One afternoon he asked me where I had been the previous evening. I told him I was in my hotel room practicing. I asked him why he wanted to know. He said there was a party and I was not present. He said "When I go to a party everyone goes to a party." I asked him if he was satisfied with my playing or did I play a wrong chord in the performance? He said he was satisfied with my playing and no there were no wrong chords. I then said, "Harry when I’m on stage I work for you. If I’m playing some thing you don’t like I’ll make it right, but when I’m off that stage my time is my own. I rather put my time into my instrument then go to a party." He never bugged me after that.

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Oscar Petersen School Toronto

I first met Oscar in the 1960s at the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto Canada. Oscar, Bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpin were giving lessons to students in a performance setting. I was working in Canada with Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte. Miriam and I went to the school and introduced ourselves to Oscar, Ray and Ed. Years after that meeting I was to meet Oscar at Chicago’s London House. He was the main attraction and I was working with the house band, which consisted of marimba, bass and guitar. Oscar and I became good friends and he nicknamed me Chicanery. One day Oscar walked into my studio with a classic guitar. He had been to Spain and bought a classic guitar. He said "Teach me how to play this thing. " I said "Hell no, you’ll do to guitarists what you’ve done to pianists." We laughed and worked out a deal where I would give him guitar lessons and he would teach me about harmony. He asked me how to tune a guitar. I strummed his guitar and it was perfectly in tune. I asked him "How did you tune it?" He responded by strumming his hand across the strings. I said "That’s how you tune it." Oscar had ears like an elephant he didn’t need me to teach him how to tune a guitar. When we got done with the guitar lesson it was my turn for a harmony lesson so we went to his hotel suite where he had a piano. We sat down and he started to show me how to harmonize a melody with a million different chords. As the lesson went on I thought my head was going to explode. There was no way I could remember all he had shown me. The man had a mind like a computer. I said "Oscar I can’t take any more." I went home and had to lie down. I was totally drained.

I remember an incident with Oscar at the London House Oscar was playing and a conventioneer was seated close to the piano, which was on an elevated stage As Oscar was playing the conventioneer would reach up and plink on the high notes of the piano. Oscar said "Don’t do that." The idiot did it again and Oscar again asked him not to do that. Oscar kept playing and the fool reached up to plink on the keys and Oscar slammed the cover of the keyboard down on his hand and Oscar said "I told you, don’t do that." In his later years Oscar had a stroke that affected his left hand. I saw a televised concert of Oscar performing and he played more piano with one hand them most pianists play with two hands. He passed away recently and the world lost one of the greatest piano virtuoso’s.

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Mexico - - Necchi Sewing Machine

When I was in Cuernavacca, Mexico I stayed at a motel called El Papagayo.  The manager was a nice lady, and she invited me to a party given by an heir and member of the Necchi sewing machine family.  She asked me to bring my guitar, and I did.  Our cab dropped us off at the foot of a mountain.  I remember thinking, What the heck is going on?  There’s nothing here.  A huge, hand-carved door opened into the mountain, and I thought I had stepped into some kind of fairytale.  The interior of the hall was all marble. There were about forty steps going down into the mountain.  The place was huge and had many rooms.  There was a Chinese room, an Italian room, a Spanish room, and many others.  Each room had statues and artifacts from that particular country.  The entire place had Carrera Marble imported from Italy.  The bathroom was huge and had statues from Pompeii.  My host had an Aztec and Mayan room that had artifacts from the recently discovered pyramids.  He had paid the workmen to steal the artifacts from the ruins.  I no longer remember the name of the Necchi heir though at the time I had seen him in town wearing a red cape like the Pope.  I understood that he had tried to get into the church but that his public behavior had barred his acceptance.  The food and the service were incredible.  After dinner I performed; the guitar sounded great because all the marble created a natural reverberation.  When I think of that experience now, it still seems like a dream. 

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Maurice Golden

Mr. Maurice Golden was the band teacher at Crane Tech High School.  When I was a freshman, I went to the band room and asked him if I could play saxophone.  He said that he had all the sax players he needed but was looking for clarinet players.  He also mentioned that if I learned clarinet that the switch to sax would be easy because the embouchure was the same.  I didn’t have a clarinet, and the clarinets at the school were terrible.  I worked  long and hard hours on an oil truck, delivering fuel to homes and factories to pay for a used clarinet.  Mr. Golden saw that I was a serious student, and he got some exceptional teachers to teach me clarinet free of charge.  I will never forget his kindness and dedication.  He impressed on our young minds the beauty and importance of performing the works of the great composers. Under his guidance I was exposed to the music of Schubert, Beethoven, Bach, and many others.  He was a wonderful teacher.  I owe him so much.  Those band classes fed my soul.  I attribute my conception of phrasing to the study of the clarinet.  Learning to breathe in the proper place gives conviction to the phrase and continuity to the line.  Playing the clarinet taught me to phrase on my guitar as if I were singing and breathing the phrase.  I started to cut my other classes to go to the band room to practice.  My other teachers found out and complained to Mr. Golden.  He told me that I could not spend all my time in the band room.  I kept sneaking into the band room and ended up playing solo clarinet in the school band.  Mr. Golden was a gifted and inspiring teacher.  I will never forget this wonderful man.

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DePaul University

Dr. Leon Stein, Dean of DePaul’s music school, approached me and said he wanted to start a guitar department at the university.  I put together a syllabus for a four-year program.  It was presented to the North Central Association of Accreditation and was accepted.  I did not need the job and in fact would have made more money had I not taught at De Paul.  But I had a larger goal than money:  I wanted to get the guitar accepted as a major instrument in an academic setting.  The guitar deserved the same respectability that other instruments had.  I wanted a student to be able to get a degree in classic guitar performance such as a pianist or any other instrumentalist could.  As a young student, I had been denied that privilege. 

I started out with students from my own school and built my guitar department.  In time my department had the largest enrollment of any instrument.  I knew that the deans of music schools did not have a great love for the guitar, but they did love how much money the guitar could bring to the universities’ coffers.  I asked Dr. Stein about scholarships for the guitar students; he said none could be provided.  I asked if there were scholarships available for the piano and violin students. He said there were.  I knew that was unfair; my department was bringing in the most money.  I offered to get scholarship money from the manufacturers I was doing business with for my school, with the condition that he match whatever funds I would raise.  He refused and made the ridiculous comment that a university cannot be all things to all people.  I then said, "I quit."  When the students found out I had quit they went en masse to the Dean’s office and raised hell.  He then announced that they could finish their degrees by taking lessons at my studio but that I would not receive any new students from DePaul.  I did not need any students; DePaul needed the students that my studio of 350 students could provide.  Today’s students don’t know about the hard fought battles that had to be won so they could get a degree in guitar performance.  I was the first to succeed in fighting this battle of ignorance and bigotry over a wonderful instrument whose literature goes back 800 years and whose legacy comes from the great lutenists.  Today most colleges that offer music have guitar departments, and some of the teachers are my former students.  An important lesson for present and future students is that we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.

Several years ago a new dean from DePaul called and wanted to meet with me.  He said that he knew of my knowledge of jazz and classic guitar and that he had students who wanted to learn both disciplines.  I asked him how many students he had, and he said twenty-five.  I asked how many guitar teachers he had, and he said five.  I told him he did not need another teacher he needed students.  His real reason for asking me was that he knew I could draw students to the school.  I asked him if he had scholarships for the guitar students, and he said he didn’t.  I then told him that that was why I’d left DePaul the first time.  Nothing had changed.

Another anecdote about my adventures in academia:  my pigeonhole mailbox always had tons of notices about meetings.  There would be meetings about meetings.  I was bored by all the meetings that accomplished nothing.  I would gather up the mail in my mailbox and throw it away.  Months went by, and one day I asked the secretary when payday came around.  She said that payday was every two weeks. "Look in your box," she said.  I had been throwing my paycheck away for months.  Moral of the story: read your mail.

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"Promises, Promises"

I was asked to play the Burt Bacarach musical "Promises, Promises" at the Schubert Theatre.  It starred the talented and beautiful actress Melissa Hart.  I played electric guitar, classic guitar, and electric bass to strengthen the trombone parts.  Melissa played the guitar on stage for one of her numbers.  I always made sure her guitar was in tune before she sang.  We became friends and hung out together.  I did quite a few TV shows accompanying Melissa.  She was a trained singer, a wonderful musician, understood theory, and could sing any interval.  She had great pitch and could belt a tune.  She received standing ovations every night in "Promises, Promises."  Recently I spoke with her and she was playing in "Zorba the Greek" in NewYork.  She was also teaching drama at the University in Florida.

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My Trio

I had a great trio consisting of Flute, Soprano voice, and Classic guitar.  It was the same instrumentation as the wonderful recording by Laurindo Almieda called "Duets With The Spanish Guitar."  Helene Alter was the soprano; Arthur Lauer and Phil Bova shared the flute chair.  I learned so much about music from working with that trio, especially from the soprano.  She was very knowledgeable about ornamentation and the interpretive styles of different periods.  We did many concerts with that trio and it was always a wonderful and satisfying feeling after a concert because people responded enthusiastically to the music.  The acoustic sound and balance between voice, flute, and classic guitar with no amplification was marvelous.

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Cecchini and Friends

I have often given concerts in the Chicago area under the name of Cecchini and Friends.  I choose the best players in town.  It’s such a joy to play those concerts because one couldn’t ask for better musicians and also because people come to listen.  I don’t have to compete with clanging dishes, blaring televisions, and arguing customers.  When one plays in a silent environment one can create so much more with the subtle nuance of sound, which is lost when other sounds interfere. 

I put together a concert with three of the best female singers in town.  I played the first half of the concert with guitar, bass, drums, piano, and saxophone.  The three divas each took turns singing in the last half of the program.  I recruited Audrey Morris, Hinda Hoffman, and Carole March.  These three gals are the cream of the crop.  I wanted each of them to sing the same ballad and the same up-tempo tune.  I thought that would make for an interesting listening experience: the audience would be able to hear how each artist interprets the same song.  It never happened.  The hardest part of that concert was trying to get three women to agree about anything!  Their saving grace was that they are great singers; people loved the concert.

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Sounds of The Guitar

I put together a program called The Sounds of The Guitar.  The idea was to expose kids to other styles of guitar music besides rock and roll.  The Chicago Public School Administration loved the idea, and they booked us for thirty concerts.  Ray Tate played folk guitar, Peter Baime played flamenco guitar, and I played classic and jazz guitar.  We took turns playing solo and then ended the program by playing together. 

One thing I learned about performing in the public schools is that the behavior of the students is dependent on the strength of the principal.  At one of the concerts two kids were punching the hell out of each other.  The teachers did nothing to stop the fight.  I stopped playing and said,  "When you two are through fighting I’ll continue."  Only then did the teachers intervene.  Another time as I was walking down a hall, I saw a huge teacher’s desk fall down a stairwell.  If anyone had been under it he would have been killed.  When there is a strong principal the kids behave; if the principal is weak the kids control the school, and all hell breaks loose.  This kind of behavior would never have been tolerated when I attended school.

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Clebanoff Strings

In 1957 I was 20 years old, attending Roosevelt University and playing concerts with the Clebanoff Strings.  Herman Clebanoff was a first-rate violinist and at the age of twenty was the youngest member of the Chicago Symphony.  He had a wonderful string ensemble that gave concerts in the United States.  I met many extraordinary   players in that group, among them Chicago Symphony cellists Karl Fruh and Leonore Glazer; accordion virtuoso, composer and composition teacher Vince Geraci; and pianist arranger Caesar Giovannini.  As you can imagine I was totally bored with attending Roosevelt University.  They were talking about how to do it while I was actually doing it with all these great players.  I ended up missing many school days because of traveling and doing concerts with this exceptional group of artists.  There is no experience like performance for honing your skills and learning your trade.

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Vermeer String Quartet

At the University of Illinois in DeKalb I performed with the famous Vermeer String Quartet a work by Paganini for guitar and strings. They are extraordinary musicians and a wonderful group to work with.  It all turned out very well.

Camellia House

When I was a young man teaching at the Parkside Music School Wally Corvine, the owner of the school, recommended me to Jimmy Blade the pianist and bandleader at the Camillia House in the Drake Hotel.  I worked there with many different acts, among them Margaret Whiting, daughter of the famous composer Richard Whiting.  Maggie was a real challenge to work with because she never interpreted a song twice the same way.

Another great gal who worked the room was the famous soprano Vivian della Chiesa.  She was a great operatic singer and had three different radio shows at the same time in Chicago.  She also was a favorite of the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini and recorded with him.  She was booked to follow Margaret Whiting.  She came in to hear Margaret’s last show, and she hired me to play her show the following week.  When her stint was over she said,  "You are coming with me."  I went on the road with her. 
The tragedy of many singers is that they marry men who take advantage of them because of their earning power.  Their husbands act as agents and antagonize everyone around them, in many cases ruining their careers.  The reason I mention this is because her husband succeeded in alienating everyone around her.

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My Fight for The Guitar at Roosevelt University

 I was a horrible student at Roosevelt University.  I was playing guitar professionally and was not interested in what year Bach had a pimple on his butt.  All I wanted to do was play.  My attitude was terrible because I was forced to study clarinet when my heart was in the guitar.  I started a petition to admit the guitar for accreditation to the curriculum.  Many teachers signed it.  The music dean at the time was a man called Creanza.  For some reason he hated the guitar.  He called me into his office and told me that if I did not cease and desist with the petition he would expel me.  I asked him why.  His reply was that the guitar is not an orchestral instrument.  I told him the guitar had a literature that went back 800 years to the great lutenists and that a Spanish guitarist named Andrés Segovia packed Orchestra Hall every year and played the Bach Chaconne.  My reasoning seemed to infuriate him.  Poetic justice is that two of my students ended up teaching at Roosevelt University.  I have always fought an uphill battle against the ignorance and bigotry that surrounds my beloved instrument, the guitar.  I still continue to do so to this day.

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Mid-America Guitar Society

Jim Norris was a Chicago guitarist that went to Spain and attended Segovia’s classes.  Segovia suggested that he study with José Tomás.  Tomás told him he had to unlearn his faulty technique and learn a correct one.  When Jim came back to Chicago he wanted to start a new guitar society to compete with the society that was controlled by the teacher who had trained him incorrectly.  He asked me to join him in starting a new society, and we put together a board of directors consisting of Dr. Bernard Abrams, Dr. Dascalakis, John Mavreas, Ray Tate, and ourselves.  We named our group the Mid-America Guitar Society.  Later we added Sue Avery who wrote a column for the Chicago Sun Times.  She was a great asset because she started a newsletter that kept the membership informed and united the membership as a family.

As a result of Jim’s trip to Spain he met many wonderful guitarists and we invited them to perform for our society.  Among these were Italian guitarists Aldo Minella and Oscar Ghiglia.  From Japan we had Jiro Matsuda.  From Argentina we had Guillermo Fierens.  From America we had Bernie Johnson and James Yougurtian.  These guitarists would give master classes and then a concert.  The wonderful thing about the society was that it provided a platform for many young and beginning students.  We also presented different luthiers who gave lectures about guitar construction.  The society became a huge success.  We had monthly concerts and often had attendance of 300 and more. 
I had an interesting experience during a concert for the society.   With the soprano Helene Alter I was performing the Bachianas Brasileiras for voice and guitar by Villa Lobos.  The Brazilian Bachianas 5 was originally composed for voice and eight cellos and transposed for voice and guitar by the composer himself, at the request of Olga Praguer Coelho, an important Brazilian soprano and guitarist at that time.  The fingering for the guitar edition was done by Segovia.  The guitar and J.S. Bach were Villa Lobos’ biggest passions.  In the Cantilena, he tried to make a fusion between Bach's harmonic and melodic style and the rhythm of Brazilian samba. I had broken my thumbnail and had glued on a false one.  The first note is a low A on the fifth string, and when I hit that A the nail flew ten feet into the air.  All the bass notes for the rest of the piece sounded like they had a bad cold. 

Villa Lobos said: "My teacher? ... Brazil." And: "I consider my works as letters I’ve written to posterity without expecting answer."

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Taking My Velasquez Without My Permission

I had a student who was going to enter a competition.  His mother asked if I could lend them a concert instrument for it.  I lent them a Del Pilar which is a first-class concert instrument.  I had to go to Mexico, and while I was gone she came to my studio and told my assistant, Vito Stechnij, that I had agreed to lend her my Velasquez guitar.  He was hesitant, but she kept insisting she had my permission.  He gave her the guitar.  She returned my guitar before I returned from Mexico and told Vito not to tell me she’d taken the instrument.  He realized that she’d lied to him and told me the whole story.  When she came in with her son for a lesson I told her I could no longer teach him.  She sent her husband to plead her case but to no avail. She had destroyed the teacher-student relationship by involving her son in the lie.  How sad that he had to pay for the sins of his mother.

José Melis

José Melis was the pianist and band-leader on the Jack Parr Show.  A Chicago agent called and wanted me to play the Camellia House with Melis.  His musical arrangements showcased the guitar so I thought it would be a fun book to play.  After I said yes the agent called back and said Mr. Melis had one stipulation.  I could have the job if I cut off my beard.  I told him that I would gladly cut off my beard if Mr. Melis would kiss my ass!  I didn’t get the job.

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If we don't get more involved in the politics of our country we will end up with a dictatorship.  We have people in government who think they are above the law and that the Constitution doesn’t apply to them.  Their attitude is that the people are here to serve the needs of government instead of government serving the needs of the people.
This is not the America I grew up in.  The people we have elected have all sold out to the huge corporations.  They have been bought and bribed by lobbyists.  The banking industry, Wall Street, the drug companies, the power companies, and the multi-national companies have filled the politicians’ coffers for their next elections.  It is legal bribery.  You will never see term limits because they will never give up the rewards of multiple pensions, first-rate medical benefits for them and their families, and their lucrative positions to lobby in repayment to their financial benefactors.  When the highest court in the land, our Supreme Court says, "Don’t count the votes" we have a serious problem.  Americans are foolish to be so trusting; we are playing Russian roulette with our freedoms.  Anyone that trusts his government is either naive or a damn fool.  Never, ever, trust your government.  Always question your government.  Demand accountability from your elected officials.  In our country one is considered innocent until proven guilty.  When judging politicians always consider them guilty until proven innocent.  Politicians are whores who will sell their mothers for votes.  Wake up, Americans!

In light of the present financial crisis, it’s interesting to read what Thomas Jefferson said in 1802. How prophetic this statement is:

     "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."  --Thomas Jefferson

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There is no room for religion in government.  History has proven that when religious leaders get power in government they become brutal dictators.  Questions or statements about religious faith should not be permitted in political debates.  Whenever a person mentions God or quotes the Bible to prove his point that is the end of any intelligent discussion.  When we allow religious fundamentalists to ban books by Mark Twain from our libraries we are headed for serious trouble.  It is of the utmost importance that we keep a clear and distinct separation of church and state. 

The First Amendment says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging of speech, or of the press; or the rights of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." 

The First Amendment in our Bill Of Rights gives us the right to worship any religion we choose.  Religious leaders are not content with our freedom to choose; they want power, and they want everyone to belong to their particular club.  I have found religious fundamentalists, of any religion, to be the most narrow-minded and bigoted bastards in the world.  Their goal is to have a government controlled and run by a theocracy.  We better wake up before it’s too late!

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Advice to young musicians

Music is not a separate entity from life; it is a part of life.  What you bring to your art has to do with how long your antennas are.  If you absorb all that is around you that is what you will bring to your art.  If you are insensitive and unaware of what’s happening around you, you will bring nothing to your art.  You play what you are--nothing more, nothing less.  Experience life and all it has to offer and bring those experiences to your art.  Your playing is the sum total of your everyday experiences.  Study the great masters of all the arts.     

I have always followed two models for development of my musicianship.  The first and most important is the human voice, which is the most expressive and the most natural instrument.  You should always study the great voices for phrasing, interpretation, and breathing.  If you play the way you sing you will never go wrong.  The second model is the orchestra.  By listening to the orchestra you will learn to delineate form based on the individual characteristics and timbre of each instrument, and their use in orchestration by the great composers.  When you perform if you think this part is the brass, this part is the strings, this part is the woodwinds, and you try to imitate the color and characteristics of those instruments, you will find that your playing will make much more sense as a cohesive whole.  Learn to trust your instinctual musical sense. 
Apply the logic your art imparts to your everyday decisions.  It will never fail you. 
The most important task in your musical career is to define your goals, then take the necessary steps to reach those goals. You must also distinguish between short and long-term goals.
You, as a musician, must constantly assess what your weaknesses are and then decide how to solve them.  It's important to differentiate between what you know and what you don't.  Be tenacious in overcoming musical or technical problems. You must take inventory of your progress.  You cannot measure progress in one or two weeks; you must measure in 3-month and 6-month chunks of time.  The successful student is one who pays close attention to detail.  The intimate solitude of daily study is a great joy, is very rewarding, and feeds the soul.
Talent with discipline is unbeatable.  Talent without discipline is useless.  Those of us who have average talent but are willing to work hard can become very good musicians.
A brutally frank but true statement made in Segovia’s class at Berkeley University: 
   "One may study very hard and become a good musician, but not an artist."   --Andres Segovia
The great Maestro’s distinction is wise, profound, and powerful. I’ll never forget it.

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Imelda Marcos

Years ago when I was in the Philippines a person high in the Philippine government asked if I would play for Imelda Marcos, the First Lady of the Philippines.  There was no way I was going to perform for that bitch.  The Marcos’ were responsible for thousands of Filipino deaths.  I told them that I didn’t have my instrument and couldn’t play on any other.  But that wasn’t the end of the story. 
Years later the Marcos’ were driven out of the Philippines.  They left with billions of dollars that belonged to the Philippine people.  Ferdinand  Marcos died in Honolulu, which is a private, business club in the Sears Tower.  I set up my guitar.  Guess who the guest speaker was?  Imelda Marcos.  There was no way I could leave without creating big problems for the person who had hired me.  The lies and denials that came out of Imelda’s mouth were astounding.  She kept trying to convince the audience that the Marcos’ were honest people and not thieves.  She didn’t mention that they owned everything in the Philippines, that Ferdinand (or: her husband) curtailed civil liberties; that he banned the right to peaceably assemble; that he was a dictator; that he imprisoned, tortured, caused the disappearance of, and murdered thousands of his oppositionists. Nor that they plundered the nation’s treasury.  It was obvious the audience didn’t believe her.  Thy only way I could soothe my conscience was to tell myself I played for the audience and not for that lying bitch.

When I was in the Philippines there was a big scandal about Marcos and his American mistress.  Marcos used to sing love songs to his mistress and, unbeknownst to him, she’d had a tape recorder under her bed.  She left the Philippines and then sent the tape to the radio stations.  The Filipino people had a ball listening to their President serenading his mistress.  All hell broke loose.  His goons were looking everywhere for her.  Had they found her that would have been the end of her.  "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." 

Imelda had taken a trip to Libya, and there were many rumors about Imelda and the Libyan leader Col. Moammar Kadafi.  That would also have been a match made in hell.

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My Personality

I have always been a rebel. I resent authority used in an unfair and dictatorial manner. I am a liberal and make no apologies for it. I believe in live and let live, as long as it does not harm others. I am a very emotional person. I am a romantic and I cry easily. I make no apologies for the ability to express emotion or feelings. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I used to have a very short fuse and I now feel very proud to have learned how to control my temper. I refuse to be treated as a second - class citizen because I am a musician. I am a very logical person. I am able to break problems into their smallest components and deal with them. My art has taught and given me this type of logic. I am extremely proud of my Italian Heritage and the contributions the Italians have made and continue to make to the world. I will put my arm in the fire for a friend, but if that friend deceives me I want nothing more to do with that person. I feel if they will hurt you once they will do it again.

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