"Practicing is an infinitely rewarding and ennobling read in its totality."
—"The Pleasure of Practicing
," Maria Popova on Brain Pickings
, January 2015.
2007 Notable Book (Memoir).
—Oscar Villalon, The San Francisco Chronicle
2007 Must Read.
Best of 2007.
—Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC, New York)
"It is to the immense credit of Kurtz... that he has written such a thoughtful and fluid meditation on the subject [of practicing]."
—Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times
"...his journey speaks eloquently to the heart of anyone who has ever desperately yearned to achieve something and felt the sting of disappointment.... 'Practicing' is a fantastic example of what memoir as a literary form can best deliver: a person delving honestly, profoundly and fearlessly into one aspect of life, not necessarily coming up with answers so much as struggling in the face of life's big questions."
—Samantha Dunn, Los Angeles Times
"...a sensuous, evocative memoir about love lost and regained.... There's something holy about Kurtz's longing for beauty, thwarted or not. Laborare est orare, said Catholic monks in the Middle Ages: To work is to worship. Glenn Kurtz has gone back to work on his guitar playing, and his devotion seems like a rebirth of self."
—Chuck Leddy, The San Francisco Chronicle
"... the most instructive book I've read in recent months about the act of performance.... he writes with uncanny sensitivity about his brief career as a professional performer."
—Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal
"[an] exceedingly beautiful book."
—Terry Teachout, Contentions
—The Week Magazine
"The book is a poignant, and at times wrenching, account of hope [and] loss."
—Chris Colin, SF Gate
"a lyrical memoir-meditation..."
—Aileen Jacobson, Newsday
"Kurtz's story could easily be that of thousands of other people with musical talent who found for one reason or another that it wouldn't take them where they wanted to go. The difference here is that someone with a philosopher's bent has taken the time to look through the wreckage of his dreams and see whether anything was worth saving."
—Greg Stepanich, The Palm Beach Post
"It's a compelling story, and Kurtz's descriptions of the effect music has on him are particularly strong..."
—Doug Childers, Richmond Times-Dispatch
"[A] literary gem."
"[Practicing] succeeds both as a memoir on the life of a serious musician, and as a reflection on the guitar and the difficulty of achieving the mastery required of a performing artist. Kurtz deftly adds details about the history of the instrument, those who have composed for it, and those who have brought it to the concert hall. The result is a panoramic view."
—Charles Rowe, The Post and Courier (Charleston)
"'Practicing' is not ultimately about the abandonment of a dream, but the rediscovery of a passion..."
—Mike Moore, Decatur Daily
"Practicing is elegant, methodical and deeply engaging. It is science and poetry in one book. One sentence in the book, 'Repertoire is destiny', gave me a tremendous amount of inspiration—and unease. I have to thank Glenn Kurtz for revealing the inner life of a musician in a such a unique and compelling way."
"The author has an uncanny ability to bring to life in a vivid and visceral manner abstract concepts of music and performance, and the passions that drive them. I very much enjoyed reading Practicing. It brought me back a few decades, and is a valuable reminder of the challenges and hurdles students face."
—Sharon Isbin, Grammy Award Winner and Director, Guitar Department, The Juilliard School
"Practicing is a superb account of a young musician whose ambition finds its natural complement in the travail of practice. What makes the book extraordinary is the tale of his return to music decades later, his taking up again the slow, joyous misery of 'practicing'—the way a musician, a Zen monk, or, who knows, a doctor or lawyer might understand that word. Kurtz's art had nearly destroyed him; now, note by note, it rebuilds him, until each moment with or without his guitar becomes both practice and performance, the very place to embody and surrender all of his desire. This is that rare thing, an honest memoir—each note struck at its very center; a truthful, moving, and beautiful book."
—Jay Cantor, author of Krazy Kat
"Glenn Kurtz's masterful account of his journey from aspiring concert soloist to, simply, musician, will speak to anyone who has cherished an ideal to the detriment—rather than the enrichment—of what is real. Is there hope for those of us who dream of an unattainable perfection? Perhaps, like Glenn Kurtz, we might fall short of perfection, abandon hope, and find an even better reason to make music (or write, or think, or work): love."
—Mark Salzman, author of Iron and Silk and The Soloist
"Glenn Kurtz has taken a routine and often dreaded part of musical life, and elevated it to the level of a spiritual journey. Along the way, he shows what it means to be a musician: the fears, doubts, discoveries, and failures, the struggles with your instrument and with yourself—and the moments that sprout wings. He skillfully illuminates the occasions when music's magic emerges from its hiding place, whether in the poignant crossing of two hushed tones in a piece by Bach, the exhilarating feeling of riding the crest of a sweeping phrase, or the recognition of what it means to be in tune. This is a book written with understanding and love."
—Stuart Isacoff, author of Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization
"Glenn Kurtz has captured the unique, richly detailed and often lonely struggle to master an instrument. I was riveted to read our classical guitar world depicted in such vivid detail. Music lives in all of us, and this book will speak to those who have tried to make music an active part of their lives."
—David Tanenbaum, Classical Guitarist and Chair, San Francisco Conservatory Guitar Department