For my STEP project, I learned guitar over the summer of 2015. My reflection were the videos that I posted to YouTube as a blog. The documentation of the lessons has been uploaded to “Media” as “STEP_Lessons.xlsx”.
The distribution of the funds are as follows:
$596.47 – for the camera and related items to record the blog
$356.72 – for the guitar and related items needed to play and care for guitar
$435.00 – for the lessons over the summer with instructor Maggie Clem
$285.00 – for future lessons with instructor Maggie Clem
= $1673.19 = budget given from STEP for this Artistic and Creative Endeavor
Name: Heather Quinn
Type of Project:
1. My STEP Signature Project:
Over the summer of 2015, I learned how to play guitar. Under the instruction of Maggie Clem, I was finally able to learn how to play a musical instrument.
2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
Over the course of my instruction, I found that I was able to pick up guitar quite easily to my surprise. I had thought that it would be difficult for me to learn because of my age and inexperience with music but I was playing “Hotel California” before the first month was over (which had been my goal for the end of the year). It was so much fun to learn all about not just the guitar but also the idea of music and songwriting. I had not understood how difficult songwriting/composing actually was until I tried it myself. It taught me to respect the artists that not only sang but played and wrote the songs I hear every day.
Learning guitar also helped me connect with many people around me: I was able to find a common interest with most of my coworkers (who play more than one instrument, some even performing in bands) along with others around me, strengthening my friendship with other people.
3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?
I was actually very nervous about this project in the beginning. I had always wanted to learn how to play the guitar – I love music and guitar seemed a pretty diverse and universal instrument. My instructor Maggie Clem had been an acquaintance in high school. When I heard that she had started teaching, I thought to ask her about which guitar I should get and where I should get it, et cetera. I had always been very shy and high school had not been the high point of my life so I was worried about how she would respond. When she offered to give me lessons for a very low rate, I was thrilled that I could save money. I still had my reservations though.
Not even ten minutes into the first lesson, I knew that she and I would be great friends. We were so alike – both of us extreme nerds – that all my reservations went away. A different worry arose though: I didn’t want my newfound friend to think I was stupid if I messed up. This worry was quickly cleared away when she was impressed by how fast I was learning. When I messed up, she knew exactly how to help me. By the end of the summer, she became one of my most valuable friends.
During the summer, I worked at a movie theatre and a restaurant. Whenever it came up that I was learning how to play guitar, I was always met with eager smiles which were followed by in depth discussions of the beautiful instrument and music. I bonded with a lot of people from my work over the fact that I was learning guitar – they all started suggesting that I look up how to play certain songs and to listen to different bands. Since I absolutely love listening to music, I was thrilled to find a niche that was able to expand and enrich my passion (and my understanding of it).
Connecting with others through music wasn’t limited to my coworkers. In my friend group, I found out that people I had known for years also had an appreciation of music. I was able to talk to complete strangers in the music store and understand the conversation. A whole new world opened up when I started to learn and understand how to play the guitar and the possibilities became endless.
4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
I have found over my lifetime that music is very helpful in memorizing important facts. Jingles and rhymes and songs help things stick in my mind. As I plan on becoming a teacher, music is a valuable way to teach kids. The process of learning guitar for this project allowed me to better understand music and the necessities of writing songs. This project has allowed me to think about how to connect the material with future students. As a current student, I have already started using the guitar and the versatility of music to help me with understanding material taught in class. I find it very helpful to try to make a song about something I am learning – it requires an understanding of the subject to create a good song.
Socially, I have been able to build friendships based on a common interest (the guitar) and to expand my comfort zone. I’m still shy but meeting people who make the world interesting has drastically improved my chances of trying to meet others (as well as my outlook on humans as a whole). Overall, learning how to play guitar opened up a realm of possibilities that I couldn’t have imagined.