Stories » Sharon Isbin...a life in strings / Sioux City Journal

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Sharon Isbin...a life in strings / Sioux City Journal

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Sharon Isbin at 4 in her family's Minneapolis home. Although she started on piano, the musician switched to classical guitar after an inspiring year of lessons. When Sharon Isbin meets with prospective guitar students at the Juilliard School, she isn't just looking for someone with great technique. "I want somebody who has a unique voice, is passionate about the work, has something to say and has seeds of great musicality and technique," the director says. "We're all in this business to shape it."

A Grammy-winning guitarist who has worked with some of the top talents in the business, Isbin created the guitar school in 1989. Since then, she has nurtured a number of musicians, "some phenomenal players who have become the premier guitarists in their countries." Over the years those students have joined her for collaborations – some at the Aspen Music Festival, where she's also the director of guitar, some on recordings, some in concert. "It's not about being tough," Isbin says. "It's about having very high standards and expecting (students) to rise to the occasion. I demand the best of myself. I don't have time to waste with anybody who's lazy or not willing to put in the hours of work it takes."