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Guitar class offers freedom to explore music

Guitar Guru: Resting her arm on the guitar, freshman Molly McNamara learns how to play with the help of Teacher’s Assistant Jacob Lill. Guitar is a music elective that is offered at South that gives students the freedom to learn several songs of their choice.

Naomi Skiles

Guitar Guru: Resting her arm on the guitar, freshman Molly McNamara learns how to play with the help of Teacher’s Assistant Jacob Lill. Guitar is a music elective that is offered at South that gives students the freedom to learn several songs of their choice.

Tania Faraj and Sita Kharel

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Freshman Jack Hansen turns the knobs on his electric guitar as he analyzes a string of melodies from “Photograph” by Def Leppard. Scattered across the orchestra room are an assortment of people, varying from the social butterfly to the wallflower residing in the corner. Although from completely different social circles, each student joins together in this class to share their interest of experiencing a new instrument: the guitar. Hansen strums his guitar and starts playing the various chords, contemplating what he should compose in his upcoming project for Guitar, one of the many music electives available at South.

“[The class] is really for everyone,” Hansen said. “There’s no musician who could not find a place in the class. There is stuff for everyone whether you like jazz, rap, reggae or even ska.”

The curriculum is based on each student’s individualized exploration of music, according to James Bachmann, special education teacher and co-teacher for Guitar. Bachmann says he was introduced to the musical arts through self-experience as well as learning through videos and listening to songs. Kristin Meyer, head of the Orchestra Program and co-teacher of Guitar, learned music professionally by taking classes at the University of Miami.

Bachmann said, “Meyer and I both come from the perspective that we want people to enjoy music, if nothing else. In the class, students can pick their route of learning, whether it is practicing through the help of a teacher or solely by listening to the music itself.”

Bachmann believes that guitar serves as a mental reliever and helps him step out of his comfort zone, boosting his overall confidence in trying new things. He feels the instrument has shifted his life completely, and, if not for his willingness to break through his fear of failure, his perspective on music would be completely altered.

“Be constantly listening to that little voice in your head,” Bachmann said. “Find something you are fascinated by, and try that.”

Bachmann believes that the class has helped students overcome their fear of trying new things and that they have started believing in themselves.

“People were very sheepish, [but] now everybody has some command of what they are doing,” Bachmann said. “I love seeing them realize that [guitar] is not the hardest thing in the world.”

Meyer feels that the students’ musical journey is personal, yet they are still able to feed off each other’s ideas. There are multiple levels in the class, but they all accept each other’s skills.

“Not only is it exciting that they get to learn the type of music they are interested in, but they also learn from talking to other kids and hearing other kids play,” Meyer said.

Hansen says that he began playing electric guitar almost two years ago and strongly believes in the versatility of the instrument.

“Guitar means freedom,” Hansen said. “It’s such a versatile instrument [and] can do nearly anything you command of it.”

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Guitar class offers freedom to explore music