I just returned from a week long touch guitar retreat in the Tyrolean mountains. The course was organised by the Touch Guitar Circle, the group of students of the “tapping” technique on guitar founded in 2009 by Markus Reuter (who is also my bandmate in centrozoon), Erik Emil Eskildsen, Alex Dowerk, Mark Butler and myself. It was co-led by Markus and invited teacher Trey Gunn. Let’s just say for now that it’s been one of the more intense study experiences that I’ve had the pleasure to be part of, and it has been instructive in so many ways. Much still to be digested, so here are just a few quick glimpses:
At the beginning we all stated our aim for the course, and I mine was “to be open to all inputs and to support the group”. Over the course of the week this led me to all sorts of fantastic experiences, from unexpectedly teaching a couple of group practise modules to helping out those new to our approach to the tapping technique; from observing our formerly small group in a new light to learning about the dynamics of a group with professional as well as beginning musicians; from playing one of Markus’s fantastic Touch Guitars U8 Deluxes to seeing people play their instruments like I’ve never seen them play before after five days of 8-9 hours playing each day; and from lacking connection to my instrument to feeling quite confident in my playing and also in my ability to pass on some of my knowledge.
Saturday was my birthday, and I was happy to spend it hanging and going to concerts with those who only departed on Sunday, like me. A gentle unwinding after an absorbing week. I also received an Ocarina as a present from a centrozoon fan - she had given it to Markus on the Stick Men South America tour this spring to bring it to Europe! Great to be reminded again that the music to which we devote so much study and work is actually listened to and cherished by people.
There were photo and video cameras and present at times, and I sometimes used my field recorder to record practise sessions. I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing that material at some point. For now, a couple of pictures of the week are up on my and friends’ Facebook profiles.