Practicing: A Musician's Return to Music (memoir), Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including ZYZZYVA, Artweek, and Tema Celeste.
Glenn Kurtz is a classical guitar prodigy who studied at the New England Conservatory of Tufts University. However, at the age of twenty-five, Kurtz abandoned the guitar when he realized that he might not have the talent—or the drive—to make it to the upper echelons of the classical guitar world. In his part-memoir, part-rumination on the love of music, Practicing: A Musician's Return to Music, the author tells his story of leaving behind his first love and then returning to it several years later.
"I have a fantasy that the book will inspire a nationwide resurgence in art-making by all sorts of former artists, musicians, painters, etc.," the author noted in an interview on the Craig Photography Web site. "So many people have spoken or written to me about wanting to pick up their instrument or their craft again after reading the book. It's very gratifying."
In his book, the author takes the reader from his first guitar lessons at the age of eight to his acceptance at the elite New England Conservatory of Music. In between he even backs up jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie on a televised performance while still a teenager. For the most part, however, the author discusses his return to the guitar and a single practice session that shows how practicing, despite the rigor and commitment required, brings a special type of inner reward. His ruminations on returning to the guitar and practicing also encompass the meaning of life. Kurtz also writes of the evolution of the guitar and the reasons why it has remained one of the most popular instruments over the years. In his history of the guitar, the author covers the musical works of numerous composers, including Fernando Sor and Scott Joplin. In addition, Practicing includes a guide to selected musical recordings and methods.
Dave Itzoff, writing in the New York Times Book Review, called Practicing "a thoughtful and fluid meditation." Noting that the book is about much more than just playing the guitar, Will Marston also wrote in his School Library Journal review of the book that Practicing "is also about studying the world you inhabit and expressing yourself." Other reviewers also had high praise for the book. For example, Alan Hirsch, writing in Booklist, noted that readers should not be wary of the author's "stream-of-consciousness style," especially considering the "insights [he provides] into the art of practice for the love of music."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kurtz, Glenn, Practicing: A Musician's Return to Music, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.
Booklist, June 1, 2007, Alan Hirsch, review of Practicing, p. 29.
New York Times Book Review, October 28, 2007, Dave Itzoff, "Music Chronicle," review of Practicing.
Publishers Weekly, April 30, 2007, review of Practicing, p. 151.
San Francisco Chronicle, Chuck Leddy, July 8, 2007, "The Hard Work That Leads to Perfection."
School Library Journal, November, 2007, Will Marston, review of Practicing, p. 162.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 7, 2007, Samantha Dunn, "Instrument of Dreams: A Classical Guitarist Turns His Back on His Art Only to Discover Later How Music Speaks to His Soul," p. 4.
Wall Street Journal, Terry Teachout, July 21, 2007, "In a Performer's Shoes."
Books on the Bus,http://booksonthebus.blogspot.com/ (November 19, 2007), Peter Spencer, review of Practicing.
Craig Photography,http://craig-photography.blogspot.com/ (July 31, 2007), "5 Question Interview Series with Glenn Kurtz."
Glenn Kurtz Home Page,http://glennkurtz.com (February 2, 2008).