Scott's Studio

For serious students of the classical guitar please visit www.scottkritzer.com
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:16 am 
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Intro Post:

To all who do not know me, I am a 44-year old female classical guitarist. During the day I am a Senior Program Manager at Intel. In addition to these two things, I own and maintain a 40-acre farm just 1 hour drive from the city of Portland Oregon. Other hobbies include biking, running, tennis, hiking and other physical activities. (sweating is great)

Family-wise, I have two daughters who are both on their own (married in fact) and I have been empty nesting for about 4 years now. Some people get depressed when their children leave the home, I had mixed emotions. Joy and hapiness. :D :D :D While I loved being a parent, (my girls and I are very close still), I did this job primarily as a single parent while climbing the corporate ladder and/or serving in the USMC. To say this was taxing is an understatement. Those days I will always remember fondly and with great pride but I never will be heard to say that I wish I could go back. Today my life is filled with the joy of watching my children suceed in their own lives and with the joy of a career that I have nutured into an amazingly fun entity.

I have always actually rather loved life and my life right now is in a wonderful place for discovering who I really am. My focus is no longer 100% on nurturing others and I have time to turn in. Just about the time my daughers left the nest, I was given the opportunity to take guitar lessons at my workplace. I decided that I wanted to try this and also decided that I needed to play classical. Honestly I had almost no experience really with music or classical music to this point in my life. I had been primarily disinterested in it and even disliked music for some reason. I made this choice to try classical based on a promise that I made as a teenager to this old jazz guitar teacher who once saw me play an electric guitar. I did not ever really play the electric guitar as a teen only sat in on my brother's guitar lessons with this old jass teacher. When he saw me play he made me promise that one day I would try classical. I promised him I would and so this seemed like a good time to make good on that promise.

Of course to start lessons I needed to also have a guitar. On the advice of a friend I ventured into the Guitar Center. Way back in the corner of the store were the classicals. On the way back I picked up some guitars and tried them out with no reaction. Then I picked up my first classical and sat down with it. I remember how light it felt in my arms. My fingers reached down and plucked the nylon string and from that instant I knew that this was something that would be in my life forever....

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 Post subject: Sept 22, 2007
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 9:51 pm 
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The past 4 months I have been in a great deal of pain due to a pulled hamstring. This problem was so severe in fact that I found myself for the very first time in my life in Physical Therapy. This injury robbed me of many of the things that I love to do such as run, eliptical, walk and any type of sport for that matter. I was able to pursue biking with this injury so while it closed some doors it did open a few others. Of course since the tear in the tendon at the top of the muscle, sitting and practicing also became things I could only do with great stuggle.

I have to say that the worst thing about the injury was the pain robbed my ability to focus. I did not complain a lot about this pain but one day in a lesson Scott finally says to me, "Girl what is going on with you?" "Do you have a boyfriend or something?" I laughed and then I confessed to Scott about the pain that I have been in and how it was affecting my guitar practice and playing.

Scott was very empathetic and has been holding shorter lessons with me and making me stand up and stretch to get the pain out a bit. He even gave me time off from a practice log and told me to just play the guitar for a few weeks. This playing was something I had never really done before even though I was instructed to do it before. It just seemed like such a waste of valuable practice time but with the injury I was glad to just play. It was amazing how the playing instead of practice actually boosted my overall guitar playing and most especially this was obvious in my performances. If any of your are hard-core like me and don't really take time to play I have to advise that you try it too. Hopefully before you get injured and have no other choice. ;)

Finally a few weeks ago I felt as if I could start coming back and begin to focus. Scott decided that it was a good time for me to try "POWER PRACTICE". Basically this is a very detailed and highly focused practice of the scales and arpeggio work and the coresponding repertoire. This was perfect for me as it was a short practice (around 30 min) and it required great focus. The first week I was not really able to do the full 30 minutes due in part to pain but also in part to my inability anymore to focus on work. It is pretty awful when you get away from the deep practice for so long to come back.

This week things are much better. I am coming back physically from this injury very quickly and with that health my mind and ability to concentrate are also being restored. At my lesson Scott had me switch up my POWER PRACTICE a little bit. This is exciting because he is modeling it after what he is doing in preparation for his upcoming CD and the lessons with Lorimer.

Besides this, I finally (it took 4 weeks) finished memorizing Guiliani's OP 15. This is a monster work. On the plane trip to San Fran I studied this and broke it into 13 sections for sectional work. I demonstrated this to Scott and his directive for me is to do GDM on these sectionals and to drive this deeply into my fingers and mind and eyes.

So practice , the guitar and hopefully my participation here is starting to get back on track for me. I still am in love with the Bach Allemande and am finding time to play this at least once a day and of course I have to do PAR performance practice as well.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 6:07 am 
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Karla, it's great to hear that you're recovering so well from such a painful injury. This is fun to read about your progress and some of the details that are contributing to that progress.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:11 am 
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Hey, Karla, thanks for the mini biography. Its always interesting to see what kinds of things people choose to say about themselves. And its nice to get to know you just this little bit better. This little remote group of guitar enthusiast friends is becoming more important to me socially, as my life gets more involved with guitar, and my local friends begin to retire, more away, and, sadly, pass away.

I'm glad to hear that your injury is healing well and you are getting your focus back for your playing. Don't look at physiotherapy as a bad thing. I've had literally hundreds of physiotherapy sessions, dealing with back pain, and I see it just like taking lessons from the experts in other areas. A good physiotherapist can teach you how to stretch, exercise, and use your body safely. This becomes more important as we get older.

Cheers, Robert.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 11:24 pm 
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Thanks to both of you for the nice messages of encouragement.

Robert, PT has been an amazing experience for me so far. It isn't easy for me and unfortunately I have discovered through this that I make a very bad sick person and a pretty bad student. I have a very hard time slowing down and giving myself time off. Hmmmmm.... Does this parrallel the lesson I am learning about my guitar practice log? Of course it does.

I have long ago given up Western Medical science for Homeopathy but when the injury got bad enough that Scott encourage me to get help, I decided I wanted to use insurance money for this instead of my own personal money. I figured I could get in to see a doctor and be told to do some exercies and then Scott would get off my back about it and it would all be over. I was in complete denial just how bad off I was. For the first 3 weeks of therapy I was in disbelief that he did not send me home with exercises and call it a day. Instead he insisted I come in again and again. At my initial eval he said I was pretty badly disabled with my right side only being less than 50% as string as my left. So 2 times a week for the past 10 or so weeks I have been coming in!!! And this for an injury that all web pages agree should be healed in 4-6 weeks.

During this denial period, Scott was laughing at the fact that there was some poor bastard out there who actually had to try to teach me something that I was uninterested in learning. He clearly said that it would be about 2 months before I gave in and started to pay attention.

After the denial period came about 3 more weeks of fighting with my PT. He would try to tell me something and I would disagree. He would ask how I was and I would lie and tell him I was fine so that we could avoid Manual Therapy and just do work in the gym. I HATE manual therapy. Not only is it painful but it is painfully boring. I want to move. Even though I lied I most often never got out of anything. Even so at one point I actually started to get better but an accident (I jump from some place and landed wrong) set me backwards. It was a bad backwards too and caused me to be in bed for most of the past holiday weekend. It turned out I had knocked out my pelvis. So more weeks of pain and adjustments and communicating ensued. I began to be more honest and he started to get more restrictive about my activities outside of PT. I had to stop doing stuff like feeding horses and throwing hay as well as bike riding, etc. Finally I could see that he wasn't going to give in to me and I was getting nowhere. At about the 2 month (or 8 week point) I finally started to work WITH my PT in a meaningful way and communicate very honestly with him. I started Pain Logs to help us in that regard as I am very bad about talking about pain.

This has all helped tremendously. He says doesn't normally have to restrict clients from activities like he does for me but he has learned that I am an "activity nut" (his words) and that there is an awful lot of energy inside this old body. So now he is telling me every session exactly what sort of activity I can do and I am reporting honestly back what is going on. The biggest change happened last weekend when I confessed that I have been having back pain for the past 2 weeks. He did some weird cracking of my back stuff and with that came the most amazing release and relief. I had never been adjusted like that before in my life either. In fact I could not believe that he squished me like he did and that my back cracked like that. It was weird.

So now I am in very low pain and doing daily Pain Logs (I call them PLOGs) and actually listening to the PT. I am finally at the place to see this as a lesson and an experience.

This is all very significant to me because this pattern that I have with learning is repeated over and over. I start in denial, then reisist and finally give over. Many of you know this about me due to the past lessons I had with getting into classical music and finally taking on the Guliani piece as well as following for the past 4 years. Seriously I don't know why Scott puts up with me with this pattern but apparently it is okay with him provided that at some point you actually do turn around. I always turn around but it seems to require a baseball bat over the head first.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:33 am 
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Karla wrote:
I always turn around but it seems to require a baseball bat over the head first.


I call that training by 2x4, figuratively speaking of course. :)

So, Karla, with this newfound self awareness do you think you'll change the pattern and make it easier on yourself, not to mention easier on your teachers?

I hope you continue to listen to, and work with, your PT so that you eventually heal. I know it's hard to curtail your normal activities. It is that way for all of us, though easier for some of us to listen and adjust. :)

Sharon


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 11:16 am 
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Ya know Sharon I cannot say for sure what will happen. I see the pattern but I wonder if I really can change the pattern. I mean we are talking pretty big paradigm changes here. :) Seriously I went into PT thinking that nothing was that wrong with me. I simply did not believe it and only went in because Scott was on my case so hard about it. So to go from "there is nothing wrong with me" to complete compliance is going to require some steps.

This is no different in my guitar life and probably all things in life for that matter. Several months ago when Scott started to push me really hard to do classical music, I didn't like classical music. (music from the classical era) Not only that but I didn't care to change my paradigms because I liked Contemporay, Baroque and other early music and Romantic just fine. So that one was a double whammy. It was my own beliefs about personal taste and then how much I cared to open up my mind and change those beliefs.

So as bad as it is for me to have to go through this pain and suffering to get to those beliefs I still have it all over the folks who are not open at all to change. ;)

So with this one I am now through the denial phase. I need some time to work through the fight phase before I can think about changing. :rotflmao:

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 Post subject: Oct 06, 2007
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:35 am 
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I just adore my Saturdays. They are packed usually from wake until the wee hours of Sunday morning with activity. They always start out with guitar practice and a lesson and from there the day blossoms into other areas which usually include some form of exercise, great food and other music or Portland cultural events.

This Saturday my lesson was exceptionally challenging for me but also very fun (after I had some time to think about it). Scott decided that since I was going to be in a consult in NYC with Michael that I should get a feel for that sort of lesson. So we took my pieces that I am going to play. I chose my very simple renaissance pieces for this occasion and we started to work through them.

The next 40 minutes went by in a whirl as Scott pulled out various Master Class style techniques on me. He had me try to copy phrasing and get little tiny (seemingly obscure) things. He had me work through my trouble area and did not take "No" for an answer. And the most frustrating thing was that he changed fingerings on me again and had me get it right then and there. No amount of face making or whining or trembling seemed to get me out of the task before me of getting everything right then and there.

Then when that lesson was near the end and I was finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel Scott informs me that I have to add two other pieces to my total set of repertoire that I will present. The light disappeared and fear gripped my heart again. Then I got a bit frustrated with the request and sarcastically replied, "Oh sure." "Would you like me to work up the Aranjuez while I am at it?" Scott replied that sarcasm will not fly in NYC and that the request remains. So with that I was defeated in all areas and I left the lesson feeling a bit overwhelmed and tired (beat up).

Over the past few days I had some time to think about what happened and to play the tape of the lesson over in my head. The feeling that I have now about that lesson is one of extreme confidence. I actually managed to learn new fingering on the spot. It took me a few tries and it took this amazing focus, but I did it. I was able to step up to the subtle changes that I was asked to get. Again not easy but I think I was able to actually do something with the request. I feel now as though I have more ability to adapt than I thought I had. I can see now that this upcoming trip is going to be very good for me in many ways.

But the learning did not end there. After our lessons Brent and I joined Scott and Lee Hess and drove over to a place where there was a party with a bunch of Flamenco players. It was an amazing little gathering. We walked in and there were guitar cases everywhere and music was flying. You always know a good party by those signs. We sat down in the mix and Scott started to ask about some of the flamenco style music that he was preparing for recording. The folks at the party explained about the rhythms of the different types of flamenco music and they clapped it for us and counted and we did the same. They applied this learning to Scott's pieces. It was so cool. I learned that Flamenco music is very much like blues jamming except it is much more tight rhythmically. In fact I would venture to say that is the most important part of the music. It was so cool to watch this music taking form. There was even a man there who sang and he said even the singing is in the same rhythm.

From that party Brent and I went to the Oregon Museam of Science and Industry (OMSI) and saw the most amazing exhibit of dead people. :) Honestly that is what it was but it was really cool and very respectful. The people were dead but preserved from decay through some form of plasicization (I think that is the word they used) and they were cut up in different ways so that you could see what is inside of the human body. It was so amazing. In addition they had all sorts of body parts. It made my tummy a bit funny at first but after a few moments I was totally into the science of it. We only had 2.5 hours to see the display but both of us could easily have spent 6 or more hours there. There was SO much to see.

We got home just before the day turned into Sunday and sat in the tub a bit before turning in. I can hardly wait to see what next Saturday will bring!

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Last edited by kfisherx on Sat Oct 06, 2007 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 4:49 pm 
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The thing I did not mention about last Saturday was how much pain I was in that day. The back pain got a lot worse as my body was in pain and spasm cycles that just would not give in. On Monday my PT did another very long adjustment and afterwards I felt release again but I also felt like I had the flu. It was just awful. The worse thing about all of this pain was the fact that I have a NYC trip to make in less than a week, followed by a trip to CA and then 1 week later a trip to Israel! I was desperate to get rid of the pain cycle but unsure how. That same Monday I drug my body to the guitar society meeting as I had not been to one in so long and missed seeing Jeff and Cyndy and all the other folks. At that meeting Jeff recommended an acupuncture specialist to me. I scheduled my first (ever) acupuncture treatment the very next day. Guys, I have to tell you that is about the most fun I have had legally in a long while. I actually had lucid trips while under those needles. But the coolest thing about it is that the next day all the spasms were quieted. I went back for a second dose on Friday and today I have had no pain whatsoever except for a bit of a pull where the hamstring is torn. This week has been my best week that I have had in I cannot say how long. I can sit for hours and my focus is very strong. All just in time for our trip.

Today at our lesson I was given the option to do what I wanted to do. I have been working my new Giuliani piece out pretty hard so I wanted to have a lesson drilling down into that piece. In fact it is my goal to actually bring this piece up into something that I can record or play in a master class at some point. Since the thing is 6 or so pages long it took a long while to go through it. I was pretty happy with how well I knew the piece though as I have been doing backward sectionals for some time on it and could start and stop with ease throughout it. We did not quite get through the whole piece but I did have a 1 hour lesson finally. This was the first time in months that I could sit through one without disruption Life is good!

Other than that we talked about our upcoming trip and about what to expect from it. We also talked about what we are taking and all that silly little stuff. I admit that I am a tiny bit nervous but mostly excited and Scott is just plain excited. We have a nice hotel booked right across the street from Central Park and are within walking distance of Michael's home and studio. That is all for now folks. I will try to keep you updated over the course of the next week as I have time.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 5:03 pm 
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Thanks for the updates, Karla. As always they are interesting and informative. :)

Sharon


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 Post subject: Oct 13, 2007
PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 9:59 pm 
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Scott and I returned from NYC on Friday morning around 2:00AM and I got to bed at the farm at around 3:30AM. I was up for a meeting by 7:30 and had meetings until 11:00 then I was off to PT and then to acupuncture and then to town to meet Brent for dinner and finally a concert. By the time the concert was over I was exhausted and hadn't touched my guitar all day. I have to admit that I really wasn't in the mood for a lesson on Saturday. I was actually wondering just what it was that Scott was going to do with me in fact. By this point (after studying with Lorimer all week) I was in a practice to lesson imbalance and all I really wanted to do was practice.

So I wandered into my lesson and wondered exactly what it was that Scott intended to do with me. Scott knew exactly what to do. He had me start playing the pieces that I was going to perform this Friday. I looked at him in shock. With the NYC trip, I had totally forgotten about the performance. Scott laughed at me and then instructed me to begin playing.

I started with Lagrima and Scott started to enforce all the stuff that Michael had instructed me to do the week prior. I protested the new fingerings due to the concert but that protest fell on deaf ears. I also tried really hard to get out of playing Adelita as it doesn't feel solid. Scott not only did not comply but he eforced fingering changes on that piece too! :shock: The cool thing about the lesson though is that he walked me through how to burnish the changes in by taking them in tiny sectionals and working both forward and backward from there.

It took a full hour to go over these two pieces and even at that there was still a lot to look into. One would think that after playing a piece for years that you'd eventually get good at that piece. It seems that each year the term "good" changes such that I am continually striving and reaching. Today when I sat down to work these pieces and the new fingerings that I have to learn, I realized that there was a shift in my playing and in my hearing. This shift is a result of my trip to NYC and is very significant. I cannot wait to see if that shift is noticable to other people in my playing.

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 Post subject: Nov 11, 2007
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 10:08 am 
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Ah, it has been so long. I returned last Friday from a week long business trip to Israel. It was a lot of work and travel of that sort always wears me out. I returned in the PM on Friday and the next morning I was in a lesson with Scott. The lesson last week was pretty light for me as my mind was only partly engaged. We went over a few more sections on my Guiliani piece. Scott changed fingerings in several places and gave me directives foro each section. I think the lesson was short but I was begging him to let me quit as I was so tired.

My Guliani piece is HUGE. It is 6 pages of music and none of it is repeated. Sometimes when I think about performing it one day it freaks me out because I have no clue how I will remember it under pressure. I did not like the piece very much when I first heard it but am growing more and more fond of it all the time.

Yesterday I finally felt great in my lesson. The whole week prior I have been sleeping for 9-11 hours a night and the jet lag thing is gone. We again attacked the Guliani piece. Scott had me play for him the first several sections. I did and he stopped me almost right away and started to really dig into the tone production and balance of the piece. Most of the rest of the lesson was like this and at the end Scott instructed me to focus almost entirely on holding myself accountable to the tone and consistency of the tone for each and every note. He then said that at our last PAR performance none of us were able to do this well enough and he was going to raise the bar. He also allowed that it is his goal to have us all stand out in the town for this ability.

At first when he said this my throat clutched up and I wanted to protest. I feel that we are already standing out in this way and this is something that I know I work on pretty strongly already. I actually did not complain though and instead got clarification on the exact details that he was looking for. This is really hard work. It requires extreme focus and attention but the results that it yields are definately worth it. During my clarification questioning Scott noted that I am doing pretty well on balance and even tone production in chords but I am far away on my scales. He asked me about my scale work then. Doooop.....

I confessed that I really had not been doing my scale work as consistenly as I should since my trip. Scott told me that my sclae work practice was definately relected in my playing. I laughed at his PC way of putting it.

I am still a bit daunted by this directive but am also excited as I know the results of this work with be so amazing. After my lesson I got to listen to some of the raw material for Scott's upcoming CD. I was more impressed than I could imagine. I like no other player better than I like John Williams because of his unwaivering ability to be predictable and steady. Scott has JW's predictability in his pieces BUT there is an amazing amount of colour and expression and breaths at the right places. I can already say with confidence that this will be my all time favorite CG CD when it is released. Scott is not only setting a new bar for all of us in the studio but he is setting a new standard for other CD professinals who wish to create a CD.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:47 pm 
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Karla,
That is really interesting hearing about Scott's focus on tone production in your pieces. My biggest takeaway from the series of masterclasses I audited was the huge difference in tone between the professionals and the students. While there were students playing the virtuoso repertoire at full tempo, their tone was aweful, and the teachers did not really comment on it. That lead me to wonder the extent to which they did not know what to do about it, or felt it was an inappropriate topic for a master class. But it is great to hear that Scott is working to get your tone into that pro caliber.
Tom


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 6:23 pm 
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Scott says my tone is "fuzzy." I know what to do about it, but I have to babysit my right hand in the mirror and play slowly to get it. The moment I focus on something else, it goes away.

Tone has to do with nail shape, playing on the spot, accuracy, and right hand position. Left hand finger position relative to the frets makes a difference as well. I'm good with nail shape, on the spot, and usually accuracy. The right hand position is my main trouble, and my left hand fingers tend to crowd the frets, reducing clarity.

It's impossible to focus on tone when you're struggling to just play the notes and deal with performance anxiety (PA) issues. Since most of our peers play pieces that are two or three grades too difficult for them, and since most people suffer to some extent from PA, it doesn't surprise me that most players offering masterclasses don't get to tone.

Brent


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 8:29 am 
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It took me a long time to even understand what tone was. It was a David Russel master class when the lightbulb went on. He was obsessed with tone with one of the players. This player had just took first place in the Portland guitar Festival that I was at, a month before. David Russell would play a passage to show the player the tone, and have him repeat but he wasn't getting it. I started to think it was the kid's guitar. But, then Russell played the kid's guitar and it sounded amazing. He ended up standing behind the student, taking his right hand, and showing him how to pull out the tone. I'm sure he did what Scott is teaching us.

It seems the tone is what brings the piece to a very high level of playing; and not how fast one can navigate the fretboard.

Donna


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