The Uproar

A Different Kind of Education

Passion for learning can be found in the most unlikely places

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A Different Kind of Education

The decision to become a guitarist almost always begins by listening to a song and thinking,

The decision to become a guitarist almost always begins by listening to a song and thinking, "I want to do that."

photo by Katie Golden

The decision to become a guitarist almost always begins by listening to a song and thinking, "I want to do that."

photo by Katie Golden

photo by Katie Golden

The decision to become a guitarist almost always begins by listening to a song and thinking, "I want to do that."

Katie Golden, Photographer

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I take a deep breath and close my eyes as I plug my guitar into the amp. I can feel my heart jump in my chest, giving me nerve-racking but necessary energy to face the crowd. I get in my head too much, worrying about what I look like. Is everyone staring at me? But when I start playing, it’s not about me any longer. Of course, I can royally screw up, but at that point, it’s no longer me. It’s just the music.

It’s not the thrill of adrenaline that defines a performance but the reactions of the audience and my friends. ”

I grew up with music and instruments everywhere: a piano, three acoustic guitars, and a drum set in the basement. We even have a dedicated ‘music’ room. At school, I’ve been playing violin in the orchestra since 3rd grade. Although my motivation and time spent practicing my violin have diminished, I still love being part of it.

One day, while listening to my music, I thought, “I can do that” and picked up one of my dad’s guitars. I really thought that switching from one string instrument to another would be easy, but I was quickly proven wrong. Changing difficult chords and accidentally hitting the wrong strings made me frustrated and less likely to practice. I would try playing something for 15 minutes before deciding that it wasn’t worth it and not pick up my guitar for days.

Starting to take lessons at School of Rock really helped drive me to continue practicing. To be fair, that was mostly because I was forced to, or I would feel really guilty going to my lesson. My guitar teacher from 7th grade until very recently was Todd Seitz. He defies any stereotype you may think of for a music teacher; he’s a huge metalhead.  He wears shirts so tight they must be uncomfortable for him (but more so for everyone else).  He’s a bodybuilder, a fan of Dragon Ball Z, and a graduate of Berklee College of Music, a conservatory in New England that is widely regarded as one of the country’s best. He drinks an average of four donut-flavored coffees a day. He is such an amazing and unusual person, and I owe him for everything I’ve learned so far. 

photo by Katie Golden

My first guitar was a Squire Stratocaster that my cousin had given my dad because he no longer wanted it. It was my cousin who also carved the frowny face on the body — I’m not THAT edgy. (Also, just to be clear Stratocaster > Telecaster. The shape of the pick-guard upsets me.) photo by Katie Golden

My favorite part about doing the performance program is the exposure to different types of music. With music, if it’s not in the Top 40 or your own music library, you probably haven’t listened to it. As someone who started at School of Rock primarily listening to bands like Fall Out Boy (Save Rock and Roll or earlier only), Panic! At the Disco, and All Time Low, I was in for a surprise. Every season for performance is done with a different theme and all new music.  We’ve done shows like Woodstock and Rhythm and Blues. Even though I am an alternative rock girl at heart, these turned out to be two of my favorite shows, and they introduced me to Jimi Hendrix, now one of my favorite guitarists. The other students I play with have also introduced me to new music, with group favorites Tool, Green Day, Slayer, Blink-182, and Periphery.

We get “cast” for parts on each song, so I could play the first song with a “band” and then play the second with an entirely new group of people. This might seem weird and complicated, but it helps everyone in the whole group get to know each other, and it teaches us how to work with other people.

When I started out, I had horrible stage fright. It was bad enough that I would turn down the amp I was using during practice so I couldn’t be heard. Even so, I decided to push myself to get out there and not let my hard work go to waste. I’ve gotten to play at the Hard Rock Cafe and Jergel’s Rhythm Grille for performances at the end of each season. The experience playing on stage like that is better than any recital because it feels like I’m performing with my own band for an actual audience. Having performed for so many years, it’s not the thrill of adrenaline that defines a performance but the reactions of the audience and my friends. And through the years, my perseverance must have paid off, because at our most recent show I wasn’t nervous at all.

My experience at School of Rock has been made up of exhausting three-hour practices, laughs with other members of the group, and exhilarating performances at amazing places. Even with all of that, I think the most important things I have gained are confidence and yet another reason to love music.

About the Writer
Katie Golden, Photographer

Katie Golden is a junior and a photographer for the NASH Uproar. She can be found anywhere from the field to the stage playing field hockey or guitar....

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A Different Kind of Education