“I started playing the guitar when I was 15 years old and took classical and flamenco lessons for three years when I was in high school. In college, I was lured into folk and rock music and then eventually moved away from any serious guitar playing, except for one short-lived attempt to pick it up again twelve years ago. Recently I started lessons with Robert Luse and this time I hope to stay with it.
“Because I am older (54) and have learnt a number of things in the past, I am not an easy student for Robert. But I admire and am fully committed to learning the Luse Method, which I believe is already providing me with a much more rigorous and valuable basis for improving my guitar playing. At the same time, I am eager to ‘recapture’ some of the repertoire and competencies of my youth, and to build on them.
“Despite my current guitar ‘rebirth and transformation’ I appreciate Robert’s flexibility in helping me with a more accelerated approach to his method, and in balancing my objectives of rigorous grounding and improvement of technique and musicianship with progress toward relearning and further building my repertoire.
“I go into each of my lessons with Robert with excitement and enthusiasm, knowing that I will learn something new and valuable that will be taught with clarity, expertise and even passion. I come out of each lesson feeling like I’ve been through a meat grinder – and always looking forward to the next one!”
“The guitar is not entirely new to me. I have listened to the beauty of its music for much of my life. What is new to me is holding the guitar on my very own, and attempting to use my thumb to produce a simple note. The notes extend well beyond my thumb and carry a significance that I am only beginning to hear and appreciate. During my initial lessons with Robert Luse I have learnt the relevance of tone and its importance in creating beautiful sound. I am only at the very beginning of my journey with the guitar, yet my respect and ear for the world of music is already rewarding and replenishing. I hope one day, with Robert’s help, to be able to play the strings of the guitar with simple sounds that are true and give honour to the instrument’s complex and inherent beauty.”
“After passing my grade 5 ABRSM exam, I told myself I am not going anywhere if I continue to learn the way I’ve been doing for the past two years. A little search on the internet got me into Mr Luse’s class. The first advice he gave me was to unlearn everything! Although reluctant, I am able to see the wisdom of it. However, it wasn’t long before I decided to give up. Imagine I was previously playing pieces by Carulli and Sor, now I have to play single notes again with the thumb! The motivation was not there. Mr Luse spent that hour encouraging me to persevere. His passion for guitar was a real motivator for me. It is very tough to find a person with such passion in this current time, I never thought of quitting after that. Thank you Mr Luse, you are really a very good teacher. “
“Or maybe it was a student concert in 1986. This bald, anonymous chap came quietly onto the stage and played ‘Sakura’ on the guitar. I still remember those notes so pure and sweet, of being so enchanted I almost forgot to breathe.
“Over the last 10 years or so, I have tried to learn to play the guitar. Two moves across the ocean, studies, work, having kids amongst other things, have made the journey so far a rather bumpy ride. After several teachers (some good and some not so good) and different programmes, I was beginning to think that learning the guitar was a frustrating and lonesome business and that it wasn’t worth the effort.
“I won’t dwell on how well-structured and logical the Luse program is or what an excellent teacher Robert is. It IS and he IS. But the thoughtful program taught by the sweet man made a big difference to my learning experience. It gave me confidence that the problems I am struggling with can be overcome and it even made the process enjoyable. The joy of learning and playing the guitar is back. The only snag now is that there’s only 24 hours in a day and only so many can be devoted to the guitar.”
“When I found Mr Luse about a year ago, I was on my last legs, and if providence had not caught up, my end would have been certain.
“I took up the guitar when I was twelve. The first four years were ignorantly frittered away in a commercial institution. Then after a long break of almost eight years, I decided to get some proper instruction, only to naively sign my own death contract with the devil incarnate posing as a bona fide guitar instructor. The last four years of hell with my ex-teacher almost turned me into a soulless zombie.
“Her exam-oriented approach, ineffectual teaching and, not least, relentless derision replaced my instincts with doubts, killed my appetite for knowledge, robbed me of my imagination and crushed what little confidence I had. I was fast becomming unable to express myself in music both technically as well as emotionally – and all the while I trusted her. I clocked up more and more practice hours, hoping to make up for the lost time and striving for a breakthrough, but alas I was only kidding myself.
“I learnt the hard way that unless you are a genius living in a cultural hotbed, it takes a lot more than grit, hard work and love for the guitar to learn how to play it musically. Moral backing from family and friends helps, but more important than even my decision to commit myself to guitar is the guidance, belief and inspiration from a great teacher.
“I learnt much more in my first year with Mr Luse than the eight earlier years combined. From the very beginning, he set me thinking about performing and culture – notions so vital yet so foreign to me just a year ago. Under his conscientious tutelage, I have been able to convince myself once and for all that I am not made of stone and am enjoying expressing myself again these days. ‘Tis a brave new world indeed for someone who survived “eight years in the mangle.”