Wayland picking guitar for music curriculum

Carl Moman never claimed to be an expert on the guitar. But when one of his music majors wanted to use the guitar for her principal instrument, he felt led to offer private instruction for her benefit.

Before long, others caught wind and signed up for their own private lessons, a sign to Moman that Wayland Baptist University's Department of Music might benefit as well from adding guitar to their musical offerings.

Moman, who serves as chairman of the Division of Fine Arts as well as professor of music, said popularity of the guitar seems to be on the rise with the growth of the praise and worship era, especially among college and high school students. But he said an accompanying trend for those students is a limited knowledge of chords only and not a full knowledge of how to really play the instrument.

Beginning this semester, Moman is offering private instruction and has eight students enrolled, one through the university's Academy of Fine Arts continuing education program. Few are music majors. With the popularity this first term, he said class lessons will likely be offered in subsequent terms, with private lessons for those who want to continue at intermediate levels. Student Alfred Gomez, a transfer student who Moman said is a very talented guitarist, helps serve as a teaching assistant. Moman also hopes to hire an adjunct guitar instructor.

Moman, a tenor who has long used the voice as his primary instrument, said he initially began playing the guitar years ago while teaching at the secondary level. But it was just a few years ago that he began playing again regularly.

"It was the 1968-69 school year, and I was teaching vocal music in Richland, Missouri to grades five through eight. I was trying to get boys involved in music because there weren't many in choir, so I offered the guitar," he recalled. "I hadn't even owned a guitar before this, and the school bought me one. I stayed one lesson ahead of them with my guitar and taught them to play."

The instrument caught on and the school formed a musical ensemble that toured briefly. After returning to St. Louis to become a minister of music, Moman said he began to work with the guitar classically.

For many years, though, after he began teaching at Wayland in the 1980s, the instrument didn't get much wear. In 2000, when wife Mary Lou began playing the hammer dulcimer, he picked up the guitar again as an accompaniment to her instrument. He's been playing ever since and admits a fondness for the instrument.

"It's a daily passion for me. It's very therapeutic too," he said. "It makes you be quiet and patient. You don't make the same kind of progress as on a piano so you have to be patient. It's the biggest musical challenge I've had, but it is imminently rewarding."

Moman said he's already seen an improvement in his pupils' quality of play and admits he's also improved by teaching. He plans to do a studio recital for his guitar students later in the spring with his voice students.