I had an appointment to see Carl Dimow—guitarist, flutist, associate professor of music—to talk about a new CD he put out with guitarist Nathan Kolosko. It's called Border Crossings and it's a great blend of jazz and samba and so-called world music. We chatted about that for a while (more about that in the summer issue of Colby mag) but before and after we just talked.
About teaching guitar to Colby students. About ex-students who've gone on to be full-time musicians (my favorite is a virtuoso banjo player who plays much of the time on cruise ship). About the place of music in our lives. About college students who, in the age of the iPod, decide at age 20, that they want to learn how to play the guitar.
I don't know why I find this sort of thing encouraging. Maybe it's because I sometimes feel our technology is swallowing us up. Or suffocating us. Or filling up our heads so there's no room for anything else.
But college students do want to learn to play an instrument, often from scratch. Dimow said he gets novices, he gets advanced players, he gets everything in between. He has students who want to learn to play and sing at the same time. (not as easy as it looks). He has the student who said, upon hearing about Dimow and Kolosko's new CD, "You're putting CDs out? Nobody buys CDs anymore."
But Dimow, a soft-spoken guy with an easy and ready sense of humor, is no Luddite. He and Kolosko have a performance video on YouTube that, as of the day of our conversation, had over 53,000 hits. And he uses YouTube all the time in the studio. It's the modern equivalent of playing a record over and over to learn a new riff (memories of "Honky Tonk Women" come flooding back), or going to clubs to watch a player's fingers move on the fretboard.
"I use YouTube in lessons all the time," Dimow said. "If I'm teaching a B.B. King tune, I'll just pull up B.B. King playing the music."
It's reassuring to see that times change. but not really.