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Meeting a World-Renowned Musician

Meeting a World-Renowned Musician

Seventh grade guitarist O. Littlefield ’28 recently played in a master class at Rivers Conservatory, thanks to the music community connections from Dana Hall’s School of Music faculty. We caught up with Littlefield to ask her about the experience and what it was like to working with renowned classical guitarist Xuefei Yang.

When did you begin playing classic guitar? What do you like most about it?
I began playing guitar, mostly acoustic, at BachToRock Wellesley when I was 8 years old. When I came to Dana Hall, I decided to look into the School of Music and potentially switch to there for my guitar lessons, which I did in the fall of 6th grade. Around four months into taking lessons there, I changed teachers, and my new guitar teacher, James Lanzilotta, ended up being a classical guitar teacher. I had really focused on acoustic pop and rock guitar up to that point, with the exception of one song my teacher had taught me for technical improvement. Despite that, I decided to try it out, and found a lasting interest.

What I like most about classical guitar is how expressive it is, in just its musical attributes and technique. In pop guitar (which I have nothing against; I love playing Imagine Dragons and Taylor Swift), the playing is mostly just strumming patterns. In rock, there tends to be more solos, but classical guitar holds the same attributes and more!

Tell us about the master class: What did you work on? What techniques did you learn?
At the master class, I focused on the piece Carcassi Op. 60 No. 7 Allegro. Xuefei taught in a very collaborative way. She offered technical improvements, such as creating evenness of tone, that accentuated the stylistic “shape” of the piece. In my piece, there is a top harmony and a lower melody; Xuefei described her interpretation of the piece and showed me when and how to balance and emphasize each line.

What was it like meeting Xuefei Yang?
This was my first time at a master class, and even meeting anybody in classical guitar outside of my teacher. I had really no expectations, but one thing that immediately surprised me was how warm Xuefei was. Xuefei Yang is a world-renowned guitarist, who chooses not to show her deep knowledge in a flamboyant way, but instead share it in a manner relating her experiences with others. She is an inspiration to me both as a guitarist and a person.