Photo By Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson | Air Force Tech. Sgt. Carmine Sammarco strums his guitar during an evening guitar class taught at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing’s chapel July 16, 2014. Sammarco was one of 15 students who signed up for the beginning guitar course offered to individuals serving at the wing’s undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson/Released)
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UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - Chapel staff members were interested in offering guitar classes after a music retailer donated 18 of the popular stringed instruments to the wing in June. Wanting to fully utilize the generous gift, 380th AEW Chaplain Lt. Col. Elizabeth Harris-Lamkin sought out guitar players currently deployed to the wing that would be interested in teaching evening classes.
Air Force Capt. Jared Bueche and Army 1st Lt. Paul Bogert, both experienced musicians, stepped up to offer their wealth of knowledge and experience. The two officers joined forces to create a six-week course of instruction designed to teach guitar basics to interested budding musicians.
A flyer announcing the beginning guitar class was posted on the chapel bulletin board and within one week the class was filled with 15 individuals yearning to learn the six-stringed instrument.
To keep the instruction at the same level for all students the instructors wanted to attract individuals to the class that had little or no previous experience with playing the guitar.
During the first session, students were given handouts showing the correct fretboard fingering for each of the guitar chords planned to be taught by the instructors.
I think our goal is to have the people in the class have a basic understanding of chords, so they can learn the music that they like to play and want to hear,” said Bueche, who has 18 years of guitar-playing experience. “We’re just trying to give a reasonable foundation for guitar basics.”
The first night of guitar classes ended on a good note. The six-string instructors had their students strumming C and G chords on their acoustic guitars before their initial lesson ended.
“To be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting them to grasp the two chords that we showed them tonight and they caught on very fast,” said Bogert, a guitar player with 10 years of experience. “The chords will get progressively harder. The two we showed tonight were very easy chords, so as we move forward, it will be a challenge for them.”
Tech. Sgt. Robin Ottmo, a 380th Expeditionary Medical Group dental assistant, is looking forward to being able to perform a special song for her daughter.
“I always wanted to be a rock star,” said Ottmo. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to play my daughter Happy Birthday in August.”
The left-handed Ottmo is learning to play guitar using a right-handed instrument, but she said her biggest challenge so far was being able to quickly switch chords on the fretboard.
Bueche said students can take the foundation that will be presented to them during the six weeks of instruction and continue to build upon their guitar-playing skills.
“Learning guitar is a lifetime adventure,” said Bueche. “You’ll always learn something new. That’s maybe one of the beauties of music, there’s always more to learn.”
Chapel staff hopes that the donated instruments will continue to be utilized by Airmen learning guitar in classes taught long after this group of instructors and students has redeployed home. The teaching plan developed for this first class of students will be made available for individuals interested in instructing future guitar classes.
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This work, Guitar class strikes a chord with Airmen, by SMSgt Eric Peterson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.