Upon entering the Little Strummers Guitar Camp, 7-year-old Paisley Grace Shepherd handed her instructor an original musical composition. She explained matter-of-factly that she writes her own songs and that her idol is Taylor Swift.
“It had two full verses and a chorus,” said Lisa Polombo Barry, music instructor at the Timberlane Arts and Dance Academy (TADA). “I read it and thought this is pretty advanced as far as articulating what she wants other people to know. It was pretty impressive.”
Paisley Grace knows that if you want to be a pop icon like Taylor Swift, you have to know how to play the guitar. That’s why she signed up for TADA’s beginning guitar summer camp. She’s learned a lot from Polombo Barry in a short time and lessons have included music theory, the music staff, chord charts, fret numbers, and the notes and chords that correspond to them.
Perhaps even more important in laying a musical foundation, campers are also encouraged to practice persistence. “I like how you move your fingers to different places and when you do it over, and over, and over again, you get better at it,” shared Paisley Grace.
Reflecting on small gains and that early sense of satisfaction, she said “I feel happy and proud of myself for trying. You can never say ‘I can’t do it’ if you’ve never tried. You can only say ‘I currently struggle with it.’”
Adelaide Pannell, 6, feels similarly and said “I didn’t really know how to do much when we started and now I know how to do a lot.” She sees the duality of being a beginner. “It’s sort of frustrating and exciting at the same time. It’s frustrating when you don’t really know what you’re doing but you’re learning new stuff and that’s fun.”
Polombo Barry was once a beginner too and can attest to the power of stick-to-itiveness. Growing up in a musical family, it was part of the household culture. Now a professional musician and educator teaching voice, piano, guitar and ukulele to all ages; she passes along her passion and also her tips for developing a growth mindset.
“Guitar is very fun but, especially for the young ones, they can get upset because they thought it would be easy,” she said. “They think they’re going to be perfect immediately and they get discouraged. I tell them ‘you’re not going to be perfect at first, just like anything else you have to practice.’”
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