Treasured Tunes featuring Elliot Frank

Q&A with Elliot Frank

Dr. Elliot Frank is a guitarist and music professor at East Carolina University. He teaches applied guitar, guitar ensemble, guitar literature, and guitar for non-music majors. Frank is a musical prodigy who did not start playing the guitar until he was 19 years old. He holds degrees from the University of Georgia, Southern Methodist University, and Florida State University. He has appeared in various venues including the North Carolina Symphony, the Tampa Classical Guitar Festival, the North Carolina Bach Festival, the Appalachian Guitar Fest, and the Columbus State University Guitar Symposium. He also serves at the artistic director of the East Carolina University Summer Guitar Festival.

What musicians inspire you?

A lot of people I work with here, including our string faculty, in particular. Mr. Ara Gregorian and Melissa Reardon are both phenomenal musicians. There is a Cuban guitarist named Manuel Barrueco and an Australian guitarist named John Williams, and both of them inspire me. Of other musicians, I have been listening to those who specialize in early music like Gustav Leonhardt. Additionally, the English violinist Rachel Podger inspires me.

How did you become passionate about music?

I was a child of the late 60’s and earl 70’s. Music was a big part of recreational pursuits of the time. I was majoring in mathematics at Georgia Tech University, but not very well, happily, or successfully. It gradually dawned on me with the aid of a counselor there that what I really wanted to do was music because that was what I liked. This counselor gave me freedom and said, “Well, actually you don’t have to hate your job. You can do something you like.” This was a revelation to me at the time. I decided at that point, bear in mind at this time I did not play a musical instrument, that I wanted to be a musician. Then a family friend who was a classical guitarist gave me lessons to start with.

What do you enjoy about teaching music?

I enjoy seeing a student start from almost nothing to becoming successful. I was in contact with a student of mine got his master’s here two years ago. He recently won a competition in Greensboro. I literally started him from ground zero and now he is out winning competitions. That’s the real payoff. I also enjoy teaching people how to learn.

If we were to look at your iPod or ride with you in your car, what music would we hear?

Gustav Leonhardt playing Bach. There is a recording where he plays on the harpsichord a suite that I play on the guitar. There is some wonderful music on that recording.

Any music/songs people might be surprised about when they learn you listen to them?

The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix

This has been a production of East Carolina University. To hear more, please visit the Treasured Tunes index.