“Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.”
When you hear the word “guitar”, what comes to mind? A four piece band circa the British Invasion, playing to an ocean of screaming fans in a sold-out baseball stadium? A ten minute improvised solo, complete with flying fingers and pained facial expressions? Strummed chords accompanying a wavering, gravely voice lamenting over something lost – or perhaps celebrating a new found passion? Whatever the case, you are in the minority if the first image that you conjure up pertains in any way to the repertiore of the classical guitar.
Classical guitarists have a rather enigmatic reputation in the music field; they play the public’s most popular instrument and they do it well, with complex shapes and shifts in their fretting hand and intricate finger patterns in their picking hand. They arguably know their instrument more intimately than some of the guitarists you’ve heard on your favorite albums, yet the stigma that’s attached to their genre seems to hinder their ability to relate to a mainstream audience in the same manner as rock, country, or pop musicians.
Couple this with the many problems facing the guitar in the world of classical music. It’s not an orchestral instrument, so there’s no place for it in many of the most famous and frequently played pieces. It’s a relatively young instrument when compared to traditional classical instruments like a violin or piano, with the guitar only having been popularized some 80 years ago. And there are typically about four different ways to play the exact same thing on a guitar, making the instrument a nightmare to write for if a composer isn’t familiar with it. All of these things leave it without much of a home in the classical genre.
To bridge the gap between secular and conventional requires not only all the technique and knowledge of a first-rate virtuoso, but also a strong sense of the music business and an ability to relate to a variety of audiences. And this is exactly where the avant-garde Patrick Worley finds his comfort zone.
“…no one really seems to see the guitar as a viable classical instrument….I look at that perception and see a tremendous opportunity.”
“There’s kind of an implied understanding with my colleagues in the classical guitar world that it’s our thing, not as a matter of pride or anything like that, but because no one really cares about classical guitar-except for classical guitarists,” laughs Patrick. “I think that’s just tied to the way our instrument has developed down the differing paths. I have come to the understanding in my experience that no one really seems to see the guitar as a viable classical instrument. Rather than rest on that notion, I look at that perception and see a tremendous opportunity.”
The experience that Patrick is referring to is actual and tangible. Though a very well trained classical guitarist, Patrick found work through the first decade of the 2000’s as a live and studio musician, supporting country and rock artists in Nashville TN. Having played in nearly all 50 states, four continents, and many of Nashville’s premier studios, Patrick has developed an incredibly unique skill set – experience on multiple instruments, professional involvement in a wide variety of genres, an acute business sense through fostering relationships with music agents, managers, publicists, publishers and artists, and the insight that intent musical study yields. Now, after carefully developing his craft, Patrick utilizes these attributes in all facets of his career.
A teacher, composer and songwriter in addition to performer, he brings much more to the table than just a good showing on stage. With regards to teaching he says “I count myself very fortunate to have found meaning in both music and teaching and even more privileged to observe that the best way to teach and inspire is to be a student oneself…It is this outlook that serves as my model for guiding and mentoring students down this journey in life.” Patrick’s ability to relate to his students paired with his experience yields results; many of his students have been the recipients of awards and scholarships.
As a composer and songwriter, Patrick fuses classical and mainstream styles. He says “I kind of got the idea about this whole new approach to classical guitar during my time in Nashville. I’d pretty much always have my classical [guitar] on the road with me, and sometimes in the studio – even if I was playing something like banjo, mandolin or bass for an artist. During down time in the green room backstage or something I’d be practicing or writing, and maybe one of the sound guys, the venue manager, the owner or somebody like that would walk in. Sometimes they’d ask me to play something after they heard a little. So, I’d play one of my tunes or compositions, or maybe a piece by one of these modern composers like Roland Dyens, Stepan Rak, or Leo Brouwer. It was usually well-received,” smirks Patrick. “Actually, they’d usually flip out. I just never told them it was ‘classical’ music and let them make up their own minds.”
Patrick currently resides in Las Vegas, NV and recently earned a graduate degree in music education at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he has served as adjunct faculty in the past. He has previously served on Dixie State University’s music facutly in St. George, Utah where he taught classical and jazz guitar to undergraduate music majors. He frequently plays at the many venues and wedding chapels in both Las Vegas and St. George in addition to concertizing nationwide. He maintains an active private studio of students on a varied assortment of instruments and styles.
Above, Patrick states that he’d just let people “make up their own minds” with regards to his approach to classical music; we’ll invite you to do the same. He thanks you for visiting his site, please take your time and look around – and “make up your own mind” about classical music…