I’m looking forward to the H.O. Studley exhibit this weekend but the title of the book by Don Williams encouraged a childhood memory. The first time I heard the word “virtuoso” I was in my seventh grade music class. At the time I was into hard rock music—Gun’s N Roses, Metallica, and older stuff like Zeppelin and Van Halen.
We opened our text books for the day and there was a picture of Eddie Van Halen holding the infamous Frankenstein (The red guitar with white and black stripes). And above the picture was the word “virtuoso.”
Besides woodworking I also enjoy playing guitar (or rather playing around with a guitar). What I’ve learned since the seventh grade is that “virtuoso” doesn’t always come with hard work. No matter how many hours I put into playing the guitar I will never—ever, play like Eddie Van Halen. But that doesn’t mean that I quit playing. I play for the enjoyment of playing (even when it is unenjoyable to others).
So this weekend I will be surrounded by a host of other woodworkers whom I would call “virtuoso;” women and men who are unbelievable craftsmen. I will enjoy their work and try to learn as much as I can from them. But when I come home I will have zero expectations of becoming them. Woodworking is an avenue to continue to discover what I can do and maybe one of these days someone might consider me “virtuoso” but I probably won’t know it.
Maybe I’ll be someone like H.O. Studley who wasn’t really known or fully appreciated until after he was dead. Maybe that is the way it is supposed to be.
Oh and if you’re into the guitar and want to see “virtuoso” in action check out this video of Kelly Valleau