Positive Music Place

The Guitarist in Chino Hills State Park

Posted by dlockeretz on January 1, 2011

This last April, I attended a memorable musical performance.  The solo guitarist had an audience of only one, and as far as I could tell, he wasn’t aware of that individual.

I was wrapping up a hike at Chino Hills State Park.  As I got back to the car, I heard a familiar tune coming from nearby.  It took me a second to realize that I was listening to “Almain”, a piece by the 17th century composer Robert Johnson (not to be confused with the Robert Johnson of “Crossroads” fame).  It was a piece I had often taught my guitar students.  Today it was being played by a middle aged fellow, sitting with a music stand.

I stood and listened for a little while.  I noted the irony that I, too, had brought a guitar to Chino Hills State Park that day, but mine was there for business, as I was heading off to teach afterward.

What stuck with me was the idea that this guitarist was a true amateur – someone who does something for the love of it.  It was also interesting that he decided to get out into nature, and solitude, to play his music.  A lot of music is about performing for and communicating with an audience, but perhaps for this fellow, it was about a deeper level of personal fulfillment.  I found myself asking, how would I approach music if I thought no one was watching?

Eight months later, I’m not sure if I have the answer to that question, but the guitarist helped me at least see that there was a question to be asked.   The next time I see him – or anyone else – playing music out in nature, I just might have to grab my guitar and sit in.


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