Evan Taucher wakes up each morning and starts with a cup of coffee, and he’ll need it. After all, the 24-year-old graduate student from Tampa, Florida will spend roughly five to eight hours playing classical guitar today. Often times alone in a studio at Kenilworth or the Zelazo Center. So, how does a kid from Tampa end up studying classical guitar in Milwaukee?
When Taucher was just a kid, he begged his parents for a starter piano. After endless begging, there it was. A piano. The beginning of his musical journey.
Despite Taucher being very musically inclined at a young age, he doesn’t come from a musical background. Neither of his parents, nor his siblings played. Taucher’s grandpa played casually, but never professionally. With no musicians in the family, Taucher had to take lessons and practice relentlessly on his own.
Taucher got started with piano but transitioned into saxophone during his high school years. After starting with saxophone, another instrument caught his eye. At the time, a lot of Taucher’s friends were playing electric guitar. Sparking his interest, Taucher decided to start playing electric guitar with his friends.
Focused more on guitar, Taucher was interested in starting a band his senior year of high school. But with friends going away to college the next year and an overload of guitar players in the crew, the band was never formed.
Following graduation, Taucher enrolled at Florida State University intending to major in business. Of course he didn’t stop playing music, but freshman year Taucher transitioned back to saxophone. But this time on a grand scale, playing for the Florida State University Marching Chiefs. Taucher got the opportunity to play in front of sold out crowds of nearly 80,000 people. Multiple games were also on national TV, as the Seminoles were a top ranked football program.
Although exhilarating, Taucher’s passion lied elsewhere – guitar. His friends at Florida State were studying guitar while he was in the business school. After freshmen year, Evan made the decision to study guitar and pursue it professionally. He was especially interested in classical guitar performance and Florida State had a great program.
Taucher’s next step was to schedule a lesson in classical guitar over the summer. After constant practice, Taucher got an opportunity to audition in front of Bruce Holzman, director of Florida State’s Guitar Program. When talking to Taucher, he described Holzman as a “pedagogue”. And Holzman has the accolades to support that, including over 40 years of teaching experience. In 2013, Holzman received Guitar Foundation of America’s Artistic Achievement award. This award is given to performers, composers, pedagogues and scholars who have made “monumental contributions to the development of the art and life of the classical guitar,” according to the Guitar Foundation of America’s website. Fewer than 20 people have received this award.
Taucher worked tirelessly during his time at Florida State to improve at his craft. During summers, Taucher worked at Busch Gardens Theme Park in Tampa. There he performed three-to-four concerts a day playing electric guitar. Since Taucher was studying classical guitar, he brought an acoustic guitar with him to Busch Gardens and practiced classical guitar in his free time between concerts.
Taucher, with his consistent dedication and the guidance of Bruce Holzman, graduated from Florida State in 2015.
Looking for his next venture in the world of classical guitar. He scheduled an audition with Rene Izquierdo, associate professor of classical guitar at UW-Milwaukee. Izquierdo had a concert in Tallahassee and Taucher had the opportunity to audition for Izquierdo the night before. Taucher said he had an “amazing” lesson and he loved Izquierdo’s energy and passion. After the audition, Taucher received a scholarship to UW-Milwaukee. Getting the scholarship and having the opportunity to study classical guitar under Izquierdo was a huge accomplishment for Taucher.
Taucher is currently seeking a master’s degree in classical guitar performance. He has two semesters left following the Spring 2017 semester.
When I asked Izquierdo about Taucher’s future he said, “If he continues on this path I have no doubt he’ll be in a great position.”
He described Taucher as a “very disciplined” student. Also saying he hasn’t met many students with Taucher’s kind of vision.
When Taucher is not in the depths of Kenilworth practicing, he teaches online guitar lessons. He does this by livestreaming with his students and giving them specific technical instruction. Taucher sees social media as a huge opportunity and makes sure to keep up with his more than 16,000 Instagram followers (@evantaucher). There you will find anything from beautiful composed classical guitar, to videos of Taucher’s cat, Partita, helping him with the tunes.
The second-year master’s degree student admitted his schedule is exhausting both mentally and physically, at times. When in a rut, he takes a day or two off before he gets the itch to start practicing again.
His hard work doesn’t come without reward, though. Taucher won first-place in the guitar category at the prestigious Schubert Club Student Scholarship Competition. The Schubert competition is over 90 years old and is open to musical students from Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Taucher said he’s using the prize money towards “investing in inventing a musicians practice tool.”
Taucher will continue to pursue his master’s degree under the instruction of Izquierdo. While Taucher doesn’t know exactly what’s in store for his future, he would love to travel the world and teach. Describing Izquierdo as a role model, Taucher would like to take a similar path of performing and teaching.
If you wish to see Taucher perform live, he will be performing at a classical guitar concert at Saint Mark’s May 12, 2017.