Music mentor

Guitarist Richter enjoys teaching students during concert stop

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Taylor Arveson, a ninth grade student at New Vision High School in Post Falls, plays notes on a guitar as classical guitarist Brad Richter coaches him through a scale Tuesday during a workshop.

POST FALLS - When Brad Richter balked at doing a report in high school, a teacher met him halfway and allowed him to write about the rock band Led Zeppelin.

It's those kind of moments that helped the classical guitarist stave off disaster as a teen.

"I was enough of a pain in the neck that I probably wouldn't have gotten anything done," Richter said. "I was a bit of a lost soul who needed some input."

Richter is spending this week offering workshops and concerts with local students before performing with cellist Viktor Uzur at the Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center for a public concert on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Adult influences - even if they weren't musicians which was Richter's main interest growing up - helped turn Richter's life around.

With no formal musical training, he was awarded scholarships to the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and the Royal College of Music in London. At Royal, he became the first guitarist in the college's history to win the Thomas Morheer Prize for voice accompaniment.

With his rebound from being a teen rebel, the 43-year-old from Tucson, Ariz., is a common request to reach out to at-risk students during his concert visits. While he's unable to do as much of that these days, he makes Post Falls a special case.

His classes and/or performances this week includes stops with students at New Vision High, Post Falls High, Idaho Youth Ranch Anchor House, elementary schools for Boys and Girls Club and Crosswalk North Idaho, formerly Project Safe Place.

"I feel like I'm part of the community here," said Richter, in his seventh year of being in local schools for a week-long program. "I spend more time here than at other towns I visit. It's nice to build relationships and see how students grow from year to year."

Students from Crosswalk North Idaho will be ushers for his Friday night concert.

At New Vision, Richter and students he's working with this week will give a concert on Thursday in front of the entire student body.

Senior Savannah Lear has received lessons from Richter for the past three years.

"I'm self-taught like he was and he has taught me so many things," she said. "I don't know where I'd be if he hadn't come to our school. He teaches on our level, so we get it. The students in the class can't read sheets of music, but we're already playing a whole Beethoven song."

This year, freshman Taylor Arveson is taking her first lessons with Richter.

"That guy makes it look so easy," Arveson said of Richter. "When he teaches it, it's so simple."

Richter's educational program is supported by the Idaho Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Wendy's, Western States Arts Federation, Janice Baldwin of Merrill Lynch and from a fundraiser held at the JACC.

"I enjoy watching students learn how to speak with confidence and perform in front of people," Richter said. "Those things can translate into every aspect of life."

Richter-Uzur concert Friday

• Classical guitarist Brad Richter and cellist Viktor Uzur will perform a concert on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Jacklin Arts and Cultural Center in Post Falls. Cost is $20, or $15 for students. For tickets, call 457-8950 or email art@thejacklincenter.org.

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