Two weeks ago my family and I went down to Nashville, Indiana for the Indiana Fingerstyle Competition.  This was my third year going to the event.  In 2013 I came for my first competition ever, which was pretty intimidating.  After not making the finals that year, I pulled out my notebook and made notes of things I noticed about all the finalists so I knew what to work on.  Last year (2014) I came back with some new tunes and improved technique and took second place.  With more experience this year I came back and won!  

 A very humble and generous luthier, Clint Bear, has built a guitar for the winner for each of the four years of the competition.  Clint had a big smile on his face when he handed me the guitar he built as my name was called as the winner.  After the competition Clint told me he had been watching me each year and has enjoyed my playing.  After the competition I went back to the inn and was able to play his guitar for a bit and later that night I was able to talk with Clint for a while longer. I told him how much I liked the guitar and learned more about his guitars and how he builds them.  Clint was dedicating the guitar in memory and honor of his dad who passed away only a couple of days before the competition.  I will very proudly and happily play this guitar and get a pickup in it as soon as I can so I can share the sound of this amazing guitar in my performances.  Thanks so much Clint!  

Kara Barnard and Chuck Wills have really done their homework in putting this competition together and I announced this in the evening concert that this competition is my favorite of the three biggest Fingerstyle competitions including the Walnut Valley International Competition and the Canadian Guitar Festival competition.  They do a great job of keeping the competitors comfortable and as relaxed as possible.  I know they want everyone to play their best and to get to know each other and to build up this community of Fingerstyle guitar players.  The competition does create a lot of excitement but at its core the whole event is really for people who love Fingerstyle guitar.  It pushes all of us to write and arrange better music.  The other competitors have really inspired me and made me a far better player than I ever could be on my own.  My most recent album, Trust, was largely inspired by the composition level I was challenged with in these competitions.  I really appreciated all the great conversations I had with the competitors, judges, performers, and people who came to listen.  

I can't end this article without giving recognition to the Creator and God of the universe.  He has blessed me with growing up in a small town with parents who encouraged and supported me no matter how many times I played a riff over and over.  He gave me great musical friends in high school who I could jam with and be challenged by.  He reminded me over and over during my college years that He was leading me to be a performing musician.  He challenged me with some horrible repetitive strain injuries (RSI) that stopped me from playing for about a year after graduating college.  This challenge led me to two of the greatest teachers I've had, Brian Roberts and Michelle Obrecht, who changed my perspective forever in how I play the guitar and in many ways how I live.  During my two years of intense study with these teachers and relearning the guitar and how to use my body to its best, my wife and I were led to the Hillsdale Free Methodist Church.  Even though I grew up in the church and went to a Christian college, this church pushed me to really study the Bible, look at history and science, observe the reality of life for what it is and see how everything comes together perfectly under God.  Through this growth, the Creator showed me what all this meant with my music and that I could share these truths through the guitar.  Since this has happened, my music has changed significantly.  My family and friends continue to support me and encourage me to keep going with this music.  My guide through all the challenges that we all face in life and more specifically that a musician faces in life has been the God of the universe who I can talk with through prayer and who I can learn from through His Word and who has given me all the amazing people and resources around me that I so often forget to be thankful for.  

Winning the Indiana Fingerstyle Competition is a great honor but it also brings on a false sense that I am in control of my life.  We all want to feel special and important and in control.  The Creator has reminded me that this can all come crashing down in an instant and that my pride is not desirable and that I should be remembering that I am only here because of Him and all the people and influences that I've grown up with and live with now.  This award is not a badge of control over my life or status.  It is a reminder and confirmation of what God has done that I could never do on my own and would have no purpose to try to do.  Praise God!



Karen Cobel and family August 22, 2015 @08:29 pm

David, you have given glory to God, and in the grand scheme of things, that counts most. I so appreciated the article you wrote, and enjoy your music, and it has been a pleasure for our family to be of your and your whole family's acquaintance. Hi to all.

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2015 International Fingerstyle Guitar Champion

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