Music theory group meets at library

January 25th, 2007    Author: Michael Bradley    Filed Under: News

Aspiring musicians are receiving training with the opportunity to learn more about the art of guitar playing through the offering of music theory classes.

The class group, which meets at the Owensville branch library every Wednesday night, began 10 months ago with the intention of studying music theory, said volunteer group instructor and library cataloguing and reference services director Aaron Smith.

“Initially, we studied music theory,” he said. “It quickly morphed into a study of various rock guitar styles and techniques, with a focus on playing opportunities for students of all high school ages at all levels of capability. These determined student musicians are very committed to artistic excellence.”

They spend the 90-minute music session sitting in a circle playing electric and acoustic guitars (there is an occasional keyboard, a wind instrument, or drums). Anyone with a passion for music is welcomed to participate. There are usually 10-15 participants, from beginners to advanced, who practice and create simple, repetitive patterns that everyone can play.

The class, more like a rock and roll jam session, also offers more advanced players the opportunity to work on solo techniques.

Music group instructor, Aaron Smith, right, explains music theory and guitar playing techniques to, from left, C.N.E. students T.C. Smithers, 16, Matt Cummings, 16, Brandon Cummings, 15, and Chris Leonard, 15.
Noah Florence, 16, who sings lead vocals and plays bass guitar in a rock band called "The Crooks," has been coming to the classes since they started last March.

"I am here because I love playing the guitar and I am a musician," he said. "I really like playing music, especially with others in a band. Here I can practice and sharpen up my playing techniques in a fun and comfortable environment."

Smith, who has worked for Clermont library for seven years and plays guitar, keyboards, saxophone, and the banjo, said that one of the program's primary goals of the weekly classes is to offer that environment to the students.

"There are many things that make this program noteworthy," he said. "I want the kids to have the opportunity to play music under non-threatening circumstances. Oftentimes, it can be a terrible experience to just jump into live and stage performances; there can be a real critical crash that can be discouraging. These sessions prepare them for all that."

Another goal of the music group sessions is experimentation.

"There is a very broad and diverse interest in many musical tastes, styles, and genres here," Smith said. "From folk music to death metal, it's all represented. The kids get the chance to be themselves, stick their necks out there and experiment in front of a safe group."

The student musicians bring their own guitars and instruments (including amplifiers) to the sessions and in recent weeks, Smith has utilized video and audio files from YouTube and other web resources to watch familiar (and unfamiliar) artists to study those guitar and bass approaches.

They listen to and study different recordings brought in by the students and analyze them in regard to individual qualities and musical effectiveness.

Clermont Northeastern student and aspiring musician Tracy Frisby, 15, comes every week because he loves to play his guitar, loves to play with a group, and because it's "fun."

"I have a passion for this," he said. "I am here to learn as much as I can. I did know a lot of the basic stuff already. The classes introduced me to different techniques and very cool different styles. I am getting the training I need to someday be a professional musician."
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