After being active as a solo player since 2007, I liked the idea to do something in an ensemble again. Not a regular thing, just for fun. In this way, I landed with the Gitarrentreff in Nordhorn, Germany, just over the border near my living place.
The School of Music in Nordhorn organises a number of courses beyond the regular lessons, mainly ensemble courses. Gitarrentreff had existed for years and had attracted a group of oldies (;-) of my age) that came together once a week in the regular season. Some even continied in the holidays.
The Gitarrentreff repertoire consisted of pop song, particularly from the youth of the participants. Roughly from the sixties to the eighties (which may cause the deduction that the group had quite a few grey hairs). Everybody possessed a fat binder with copies of fake sheets, tabs and lyrics with chord progressions that originated from the Internet. On the sessions, everyone selected songs by turns, sang them together and accompanied themselves on the guitar, mainly in strums. Arpeggios and instrumental solos were rare.
For the current guitar teacher Bobby Rootveld, Gitarrentreff was a heritage from the past guitar teachers. He appeared to be just right for it and he made progress with a lot of enthusiasm. He suggested that I should join in, just to play something different from the classics.
I did have a little handicap. Under normal circumstances that are not slightly drugged by alcohol, I cannot play the guitar and sing at the same time. I could not take a few drinks before starting, because I travelled to Nordhorn by car: No Drink and Drive! Moreover, my voice had not made a real progress since I stopped singing songs after graduation from the technical school. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a go. Just to experience what I could learn from it.
I am a poor strummer on the guitar. Yet I had other tricks for accompaniment: Arpeggio, rhythmic chord patterns and intermediate solos, mainly in the second voice. With these tools, I spent a year with the Oldies of Gitarrentreff.
What did I learn? No I did NOT learn singing. However, I did find out how to flow with the group in accompaniment, to sense the musical line (even if it was completely absent) and to make nice fill-ins and support lines. I even succeeded in doing so when I did not know the song, or did not have its chord pattern, just listening to a phrase and play along by ear appeared quite effective. It happened quite a while that I had no paper, because my binder was quite behind with the rest. So, I improvised and learnt a few strums as well.
At the end of the year it became clear to me that singing was not my thing. To add insult to injury, the course was stopped, Bobby had not enough time to manage it and there was no immediate successor. So, I quit. It was fun as long as it lasted, that’s why I now bring a little homage to the Oldies, Die Alte aus Nordhorn.
This homage consists of a number of my 2016 recordings of song arrangements like the ones that were played at Gitarrentreff. Things went relatively smoothly, obviously, you are building up experience after playing these pieces for many years that comes in handy.
Most of the pieces are arrangements from the excellent collection Popsongs and Chansons for Classical Guitar by the Dutch guitarist and arranger Cees Hartog.
Anyway, Oldies, thanks a lot. Thank you for the Music!
😊 Play one tune at a time.