One man show

Keye practices daily to perfect his classical guitar skills

Countless hours of practice leaves his hands strained, but the time it takes him to perfect his talent allows him to find passion in his work as a teacher.

“Playing guitar has not only been a stress relief for me,” teacher Matthew Keye said. “It has been so fun to play and be in the moment in the music, which is where the fun comes from. If I am just playing music at the end of the day, I will be happy playing at whatever level that I am.”

Keye is a self-taught guitarist who has enjoyed playing different styles of guitar as a hobby since he was 14 years old.

“I like to think of me playing guitar as a merging of science and art because they both compliment one another,” Keye said. “Music helps me understand tapping into the artistic sense that allows me to connect with the amazingness that science presents with knowledge.”

Playing guitar has become Keye’s outlet of stress in his work life and uses this hobby to express himself artistically and freely.

“I am involved in music so much and it has become such a big part of my daily life that when I go home,” Keye said. “I find it enjoyable as an outlet to be able to sit down and simply play guitar.”

Growing up in an enriched 90s culture, Keye has been inspired by classic rock bands such as Nirvana, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, leading him to learn electric guitar.

“There will be times when I am busy so I have to shift my time from practicing music to my teaching responsibilities,” Keye said. “But I can always find time during the day whether it be only twenty minutes or so to practice and find a healthy balance of my schedule.”

Since there is a different technique required for classical guitar as opposed to other forms of guitar, Keye sought help from a teacher in order to take lessons to read music properly. The goal, being that he could be able to play intricate pieces of music well.

“At age 30, the doctors believed that I had a heart attack,” Keye said. “When I was being run through the tests and I was uncertain of my health status, I was reminded of my mortality and what I wanted to prioritize in my life. Luckily, the machines were malfunctioned and misread my ‘heart attack’ and I was perfectly healthy, but I was inspired from that instance to start learning classical guitar.”

From his heart attack scare four years ago, Keye has been inspired to pursue classical guitar ever since. With the encouragement of his wife and friends. Keye began to pursue music lessons and enlisting a teacher for help.

“I practiced classical guitar so much every day which resulted in me getting injured and being diagnosed with tendonitis, sidelining me from playing guitar for nearly two years,” Keye said. “I had to go to physical therapy in order to recover which was very straining on my mentality because I had to stop doing what I loved most.”

Keye’s teacher helped him learn certain exercises and stretches in order to warm up properly and learn to be cautious of not injuring himself in the future when he plays.

“I was disappointed and frustrated that my hand didn’t work as it should,” Keye said. “Tendonitis is so fickle, that no one knew when I would be completely healed, so I had to wait and give it time which required a lot of patience.”

Although not being able to play guitar was hard on Keye, he never lost motivation. Instead, he learned to “embrace” the adversities and surmount them, rather than become defeated.

“Overcoming the tendonitis was tough,” Keye said. “Anytime someone spends decades to perfect a certain task, such as athletes who are recovering from an injury, it takes a lot of passion in order to overcome that injury out of the love one has for that activity.”

Keye’s love and drive for playing guitar has never been crushed and throughout the years, he has learned to appreciate the instrument as he grows closer to perfecting playing difficult pieces.

“When I’m playing, time dissolves away and my attention is solely focused on what I’m playing,” Keye said. “That gave me the motivations and flow of being able to stick with playing the guitar even though I had tendonitis, regardless if I was on the sidelines.”

Overall, Keye wants to increase his technical proficiency and be able to play all of the most “beautiful” pieces by some of the greatest composers in addition to creating some works of his own and experience the “creative process” of doing so.

“My goal, with classical guitar, is to be able to play pieces that I love by Bach,” Keye asid. “In my opinion, he has some of the best music written ever intellectually and emotionally, which I have always been wanting to play.”

Keye has always been interested in classical composers such as Bach, using complicated pieces such as his as goals which he spends years mastering.

“Some people want to climb Mount Everest, instead I want to play the Bach Chaconne in D minor which is ten pages compiled of some of the most technically challenging music ever,” Keye said. “Bach takes the human condition and emotion in all of its forms and my goal, my Mount Everest, is to play his works of art.”

Keye’s “life goal” is to master and perfect the ten pages with technical proficiency. Currently working with his teacher, Keye has only learned the first two pages but plans on dedication about 10 years to finishing this complex piece.

“When I sit down and flawlessly play a great piece of music that I love and make it come to life, it is an amazing feeling and experience,” Keye said. “Bringing a piece of music back from someone who had written it is like going through a time machine.”

Keye’s whole life has “revolved” around music. From being in bands as a drummer and being on the drum line in high school, he was inspired to start learning guitar by other guitarists around him who played really well.

“I used to be in a band in college where we played on campus and did local shows which was fun but nothing super serious, it was more of a hobby,” Keye said. “Nowadays, classical guitar and electric blues are of the main genres that I’m interested in.”

Currently, Keye enjoys writing songs apart from those with the “same pattern,” which come with a lot of “horribly” self-written songs along the way in order to progress. Keye believes that his scientific background will propel his passion for music and guitar.

“My scientific knowledge of the world unlocks an understanding of nature that only adds to the experience I have playing music,” Keye The science never detracts from the aesthetic and artistic thinking of things, it only adds and amplifies the beauty and appreciation of them.”