CC-C students develop their musical talents in a new guitar class

Carson City-Crystal High School Larry Hockemeyer, 15, practices as an enrolled student in the new guitar class offered to students in grades 7-12 at schools in the Carson City-Crystal area. — DN Photo | Cory Smith

CARSON CITY — As a sixth grader trying to play the flute last year, 12-year-old Anna McCarty was disappointed to find nothing but frustration.

“I tried the flute, but it wasn’t really me,” she says. “I just couldn’t learn it and I didn’t like it.”

However, while preparing for seventh grade this fall, McCarty was thrilled to discover that schools in the Carson City-Crystal area were offering a new music program, giving her a second chance to learn an instrument.

“My mom told me there was a new guitar lesson at school,” she said. “I wanted to try it, so it was kind of my choice and my parents’ choice. Now I’m having fun. I like the sound of the guitar and the way you play it.

Just weeks into the school year, McCarty has now found herself in what might be her favorite class of the day.

“At first I didn’t know much, I didn’t know anything at all, but now that I know a little, it’s really fun,” she said. “I finally found the instrument I need.”

McKenzie Buberger, 14, left, and Kaytlynn Draper, 15, a freshman at Carson City-Crystal High School, practice as students enrolled in the new guitar class offered at Carson-area schools City-Crystal. — DN Photo | Cory Smith

As one of 18 students enrolled in the class, McCarty and his peers represent a wide range of students — from grades seven through 12 — who eagerly signed up to learn guitar.

It was an exciting opportunity for Chad Parmenter, who has agreed to teach guitar this year in addition to teaching the sixth-grade orchestra program in middle and high school.

From students just beginning to learn the instrument to more advanced guitarists, Parmenter has designed his class to cater for all skill levels.

“I wanted to go in all directions,” he said. “The great thing about having a wide range of talents and grade levels is that students can help each other. Right now we are working on our first duets, so we have the students working in pairs. You’ll see an older child with a younger child, some working together who are the same age, and it works really well overall.

Parmenter said the idea of ​​creating a guitar lesson for students was first suggested to him by a school administrator 10 years ago, but at that time he felt unprepared. However, after teaching a ukulele class at Faith Baptist Academy, he picked up the guitar again.

From left, freshmen Carlee Havens, 13, work with seventh graders Mya Sternhagen, 12, and Baylee Seventh Bodman, 12, as students enrolled in a new guitar class at the schools in the Carson City-Crystal area. — DN Photo | Cory Smith

“I always had it in my mind, so I took a college-level, master’s-level guitar course to teach it,” he said. “My skills have been greatly advanced, greatly tested in these courses. With the knowledge fresh in my mind, if we ever had to do this for our students, now is the time.

Now, in addition to the music stands and instruments sometimes scattered around Parmenter’s music room, so are the guitars.

“We have guitars lying around, it’s great,” he laughed. “At first we were short guitars, the kids didn’t have one or couldn’t afford to buy one, but when I went to the community to ask for help, three guitars were given to us. We’ll always take more guitar gear and equipment, just to expand what we’re trying to do for these students.

As the one-year class progresses, Parmenter said her expectations for students will differ depending on each student’s talent level. What perhaps excites him most is the fact that out of the 18 students, only six of them are also music students, which means this is their first foray into music. learning an instrument.

Carson City-Crystal Middle School seventh graders Javen Shinabarger, 12, left, and Timothy Rummell, 12, practice together in the new guitar class offered at Carson City-Crystal area schools . — DN Photo | Cory Smith

“First and foremost, I believe these students are stretched in their ability to get things done,” he said. “It will help them grow as people, both musically and educationally. They will be able to leave after this course with the capacity to play the guitar, to create music, to have the capacity to fight, but then to understand things. Since they are all at different levels, they can set their own individual goals. Hopefully this will end up being a lifelong skill for them.

Hunter Fishburn, 17, is a college student who aims to acquire lifelong skills in playing the guitar. Although he entered his senior year of high school, he was eager for a new challenge by learning to play the guitar.

“I tried in the past to learn, but nothing really worked,” he said. “Actually, I started to progress in this class. Things have gone pretty well so far. I learned all kinds of new things. I learned a lot of skills that I had not been able to learn before. »

Sophomore Klouse Andrews, 16, has been playing guitar for several years, however, that hasn’t stopped him from taking the new course.

Since he was around 12, Andrews has been learning to play on and off, but he’s been missing one key element: how to read music.

Carson City-Crystal Middle School seventh graders Alayna Warr, 12, left, and Anna McCarty, 12, practice together in the new guitar class offered at schools in the Carson City-Crystal area. — DN Photo | Cory Smith

“I play by ear a lot, so while I can make my own music, I can’t really read notes,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed playing guitar in my spare time – after school or basketball practice – so I thought this class would be a good way to reinforce my guitar playing.”

Now, with a few weeks of classes under his belt, Andrews can already see himself and his classmates improving.

“It was interesting,” he laughs. “I have a really hard time remembering which notes are which. It’s been really hard, but as far as playing it’s been really fun. Growing up, the type of music I like, I like the guitar solos a lot and it made me want to play my own. So not only being able to read notes and play other people’s music, but also being able to make my own music and write my own notes, it’s is important to me.

Even younger students like McCarty hope to use their newfound guitar talent outside of the classroom with the goal of giving back to the community through music once they learn the instrument.

“I could do something like, how people play in a hospital to cheer up kids, that’s what I really want to do,” McCarty said. “Mr. Parmenter is really nice and he has already taught us a lot, so playing the guitar has been really fun.

Carson City-Crystal Middle School seventh-grade students Eily Hasso, 12, left, and Daisy Heleski, 12, practice together in the new guitar class offered at schools in the Carson City-Crystal area . — DN Photo | Cory Smith

Parmenter said he sees the class succeeding throughout the school year, due to the fact that each of his students personally wants to be there.

“The bottom line is that these kids are in a classroom learning something that they haven’t had a chance to learn – and they want to learn,” he said. “I think there’s a huge incentive for them to work hard. It’s always nice to have a class like that, where it’s not forced, it’s an optional class. It gives them a chance to detach from other important things – those things require a book and a pencil, and it gives them a chance to create on their own.

Parmenter said the class will likely continue to evolve as the year progresses.

“Because this is the first year, we’re kind of letting the program shape itself,” he said. “We’re trying to learn the techniques and the tools to be able to master the instrument one day, so I’m really focusing on the different techniques, a wide variety of techniques – using a pick rather than pinching with your fingers – so that these kids can learn many different ways to play. We study and observe many different professional guitarists. From blues to rock, there are many different techniques. Be able to understand that there is no one right way to play the guitar , it is important.

At the end of the class, Parmenter said his goal was for each student to give a public performance, but more in the style of a solo performance environment.

“There will be a mandatory public performance,” he said. “We don’t know what we’ll be yet, but I’m hoping for a cafe-like setting. I want a cool setting where people can come and listen to what these students have been up to. It would be just awesome if there was a place like this around here, so we’ll see.

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