What music are you listening to lately?
A: That is a difficult question to answer. I play so much guitar music and have so many students every day that I have to listen to a lot of classical guitar. I tend to not listen to music when I am not teaching or playing. But I often find myself listening ot Glenn Gould playing Bach in my car.
What things do you remember working on when you first started playing?
A: I was 7 when I started playing the guitar and had a teacher (that I didn’t like) in music school. He had a Guitar Method that we all played from. I have no idea what I played at that time. Probably only children songs and exercises.
How did you learn? Did you find that you did a lot of transcribing, working out things by ear?
A: Well, as said above, I went to a teacher as a small child and he taught me how to read music (never tabs, thank God!) I was 7-8 years and the word “transcribing” didn’t exist! Only later, when I entered the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen did I start transcribing and arranging music.
Many spaces offer much less than ideal acoustics for performance, some modern spaces may even be designed to lessen sound resonance. What are you opinions on amplification for the classical guitar?
A: I have nothing against amplification of a classical guitar if necessary and it is well done with a good mic and a dedicated amp for classical guitar. I have an AER amp specially made for acoustic guitars and a handmade Bartlett mic for the few occasions (mostly outdoors) where I need amplification. I heard a concert in a church in Miami Beach with a world famous classical guitarist a couple of year ago and he had a horrible setup. It actually ruined the whole concert. He had turned it up so much the sound was electric and unnaturally loud. It has to be done very subtle and discreet.
What are your opinions on recorded music and the internet? In what direction do you think musicians are heading right now with regards to this?
A: I thing that the era of CDs are over. We will all stream music from the “clouds” until we invent another way to listen to music… The issue here is the legal payment/compensation musicians are losing. If I painted an oil painting and someone wanted it, they would have to buy it from the artist. With music most people tend to think it is, and should be, for free. I don’t get that! It is a hard job and lots of hours of studying and learning to play an instrument and compose/arrange. Why shouldn’t we get paid? Few work for free.
Some email me and complain about that I charge people for my music. I am only trying to make a living. So, the Internet has done a lot to spread music and make some, including me, famous. But it has also changed the way we look at paying for it.
What advice would you give to young musicians with a desire to go into the profession?
A: Do it! But be 110% sure you want it and nothing else is an option! You REALLY have to want this. Otherwise it is not a good choice. Then do something else and play as a hobby. Being a musician is wonderful and I have never regretted my choice but, on the other hand, I didn’t have a choice: I knew since I was 7 years old that I wanted to be a guitarist. But if you are not sure, it is a tough business. Either you get famous, and that is very hard, with traveling and competitions from all the other brilliant guitarists and always staying in perfect shape (technically). Or you will never “hit it” and will be disillusioned. I always say to my students that want to pursue their dreams of becoming a guitarist that they should have in mind they never will be more than an good guitar teacher/professor and if they can live with that, it is good… if not, do something else. I am hard but honest.
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
A: I smile! And normally the audience does too. To me, a mistake is not a problem. It is more important to tell a story, bring some emotions forward in the audience than playing perfect! Guitarists tend to play more mistakes than other musicians. I think it is because the guitar is such a complicated instrument to play and so transparent that every little thing is heard… But to me it is not an issue. But my second teacher told me once that: a great musician is one that can hide his mistakes so well 50% of the audience didn’t notice it! I give him right!
What do you like most about your profession?
A: The freedom! And, of course, to be able to spread music, love and beauty to all listeners. But the freedom to do what and when I want to do it, is such a privilege!
What do you like least?
A: Traveling! Airports! Waiting for a connection. So lately I have reduced my traveling as much as possible.
Many thanks to Mr. Kindgren for taking the time to answer these questions.