An Interview with Scott Kritzer- part 2

The final part of an interview with Scott Kritzer.  The first part can be found here.

You run a guitar festival every year as well, what is it and what was the reason for starting it?

It’s called Classical Guitar Immersion-CGI-this year will be the fourth annual event and it’s on of my big passions. In doing this workshop I’m addressing what I feel are two of the greatest needs in guitar today. First, a clear and concise approach that allows the player to reach his or her potential and secondly to bring back the longer class format and thus a greater popularity for the classical guitar.

I feel the guitar has gone back in popularity and I think I know why. Most of the great players in my day (late 70’s), did one week, sometimes two week master classes. I even attended a three week class in Berkeley, California led by Leo Brouwer. I’m talking about Oscar Ghiglia, Michael Lorimer, Abel Carlevaro, etc. These were also intense learning experiences. After 3 or 4 days you’re exhausted but ideas start to click, something almost indescribable happens and you become a better player almost by just being there. In addition these classes drew hundreds of participants. These participants became guitarists, and at the least they became audience members.

Now we have great players who do a one-day class as part of a negotiation to get the concert. For the student it’s a hand shake and a pat on the back and out you go. The players of the earlier era gave of themselves in a way current players don’t seem to. We have better, younger players than we’ve ever had yet smaller audiences for them to perform. Players are a bit dismayed at the lack of the public’s interest compared to the 60’s and 70’s. I even had one Pulitzer Prize winning journalist ask me recently, “Is the classical guitar dead?”

In addition I think there is a plethora of bad instruction for the classical guitar. We are lacking in the choice of good pedagogical approaches.  I’m not talking about tips or exercises, but a proven systematic approach that takes a beginner to the advanced levels allowing him or her to play at their potential. This is far more common in the traditional classical instruments like the violin, piano, etc. CGI was born out of me preaching from my soapbox and a student’s response to put my money where my mouth is. That being said, CGI is what it is, and really has to be experienced to be appreciated.  It’s a lot of fun.

What’s on the agenda for this year for Classical Guitar Immersion?

The most important goal every year is to make each and every player (whether a professional or hobby) play to the best of their abilities.  This is done by assuring each player has appropriate repertoire to their skills and then an opportunity to perform in a more formal performance setting. Master Class students of CGI not only perform in Master Classes but also in a formal event. Last year the students performed a benefit concert for a small town outside of Portland to an appreciative audience.  The event sold out and the students have earned a reputation for delivering solid performance through the years.  Even CGI auditors perform in workshops and also in late night open mic events.  Every year there is one person who swears they are not going to perform. You can guess how that story ends…

In addition to master classes and performances, (both by myself and students), we have technique workshops revolving around the Phase work I previously mentioned and Performance Anxiety Rehab workshops all week. Everyone stays in a beautiful dorm on the Lewis & Clark Campus here in Portland, Oregon. The food is great, the weather is great and the camaraderie built is amazing and a lot of friendships are built. The participants come from a wide array of backgrounds; we have a dancer, computer tech people, a rocket scientist, software developers, lawyers, doctors and even a congressionally appointed member of the US’s National Security Advisor. But as soon as they arrive they become friends of the guitar.

What are your top three guitar tips?

Practice Tip: Slow down and listen to every note you’re playing. Playing too fast and not listening are the single two corrosive things you can do to your playing.

Organization: make goals for your playing – project where you’d like to be in 6 months, 1, year and 2 years with regards to your practice habits, musicianship and performing.

Performance: Don’t be so damn hard on yourself in performance. EVERYONE makes mistakes, well, maybe not Barrueco or Williams, but those of us from this planet do. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, let go, and share the music. You’ll live.

Any business tips for the aspiring private teachers out there?

I guess I‘d say don’t be afraid of challenging your students. Have a concept of what you want to do for your students and direct them towards that concept. It may sound odd but students who work with me get very little choice in how they practice. I’m considered a tyrant of sorts but I know what they need and successful people appreciate a clear and direct approach. I guess what I’m saying is having something to say and don’t be afraid to say it!

My approach is to transform players. My assumption is that they want to be trained just as if they were professional and in such a way as to reach their full potential. I ask no more or less from them than I do of myself. It’s hard to ask a lot from your students unless you have the power and conviction of following your own advice.

Any final thoughts?

Things are moving so fast, I’m adding new services all the time; if people are interested they can write me and I’ll add them to the mailing list where everyone will be kept informed. Here are a couple of recent highlights.

I have weekly tips called Fret Marker – they’re short and to the point.  If you send me an email at with Fret Marker in the subject line I’ll put you on the list (your email will remain private and not sold to anyone else)!   I’m working on pulling parts of the Phases that don’t need to be taken in any particular order and making them available at a much lower cost than the whole Phase.

A big thanks to Scott for taking the time to answer these questions.  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Posted on in Interviews with Classical Guitarists