Casual Questions: Jeff Noonan

Jeffrey J. Noonan is the author of The Guitar in America: Victorian Era to Jazz Age. Noonan is associate professor of music at Southeast Missouri State University, has performed professionally on classical guitar, Renaissance lute, Baroque guitar, and theorbo for over twenty-five years. His book is available now from UPM.

  • What was your first job?

    Aside from informal lawn-mowing or trying to sell home-made craft items as a kid, my first formal job was a summer job as a lunch-hour busboy at an informal businessman's diner. My father frequented the place and knew the owner who took me on for the summer--I was in 8th grade maybe. I hitch-hiked back & forth (this was the mid-1960s), so I could save the bus fare. I remember their burgers were great and that's what I had for lunch every day all summer. I was enthralled with woodworking at the time and would spend my tips (wages went into my savings) on tools at a hardware store up the street from the restaurant.
  • What do you do to relax?

    I'm pretty dedicated to my music and I find it relaxing and enjoyable to practice or play pieces. A music professor actually has little time to really "do" music; we're so busy teaching it or talking about it. On summer breaks, I'll sometimes find it relaxing to play scales for a couple hours. Non-professional relaxing might include reading (modernism and art history are of particular interest) or dinner at a good restaurant. When traveling, I enjoy the country for quiet time to read or wandering the streets of a city just watching it all go by.
  • What is the most satisfying thing about having your book published?

    My satisfaction is on two levels--intellectual and visceral. I'm very pleased that my ideas intrigued enough people that they saw fit to print them. I think they're pretty good ideas and I think I've articulated them pretty well--and the publication of the book allows my ideas and words to be shared with a wider group of interested people.

    On a visceral level, I think UPM has done a great job with the production of this book. The design and heft of this little volume please me to no end. I tried to make my part of the process--the ideas and words--broadly appealing, gently understated, yet intellectually rigorous. The design of the book from its cover image to the fonts reflects and supports how I thought of the book. As a book person, I really appreciate how it looks and how it feels.