by Bruce Boome
(Durban, KwaZulu/Natal, South Africa)
Way, way back at the dawn of time- well, 1959, I got a guitar for my 14th birthday. It was a "Valencia" arch-top jazz style guitar with an action that would have challenged Stevie Ray!
About 2 weeks later, I heard a "Shadows" tune (Apache) on the radio. That was the end of life as I knew it, as guitar became my life. At age 17 I became a professional musician, and loved it.
In the early 70's I was attending a (free) jazz workshop in Cape Town with Merton Barrow every Sunday night. My wife at the time complained (rightly so) as Sunday was my only night off- so I quit. I asked Merton what I could do to help myself improve my playing, and he advised classical guitar lessons.
I duly went around the music stores, and (lucky me), got the number of Uliano Marchio, who taught me for about a year and a half.
My first lesson he would only let me do i,m on open strings, but I persevered, and managed to learn some pieces.
In about '75 I worked in a small town called Port Elizabeth, but fortunately they had an excellent guitar teacher there named Dr. (of music) Howard Nock.
Howard bullied me into doing my L.T.C.L. teachers diploma, so by '77 I was qualified (as they say) to teach- something I was not keen to do. Besides, when you travel, it's difficult to teach as you're never in one place for long enough.
In about '89, I finally realized that it was time to get off the road, so I moved to Durban (Africa's largest port).
4 young men used to come and watch me play, and one day we started chatting. I asked them what they were doing, and they told me they were studying classical guitar.
I mentioned that I had a diploma to teach, and they asked "why don't you come and teach us", as their teacher had just left. I applied for the job and got it, teaching there for 15 years as a part time lecturer.
During that time, I had the great good fortune to study with the late great David Hewitt, who was South Africa's premier classical guitarist, and a wonderful man.
7 years ago, I got a phone call from Lynne Ross, who was teaching at Crawford Prep- a very exclusive (read expensive) private school, asking me if I was interested in teaching classical guitar there.
I taught there for two years, as well as at the Technikon and the University of Durban/Westville. One day the Principal of Crawford called me to his office, and offered me a full-time post, which I accepted, and I have been there in that capacity for 5 years.
As an adult learner, I'll never be on the concert circuit- but CG gives me a whole lot of satisfaction and a purpose to life.
I have only played CG in public once, doing a duet with Howard in a church. As a spur to up my repertoire and practice, I'm now studying to get my performers diploma. My guitar is an Aria A550 I bought in the early 70's.