PJ's Introduction to Guitar class gives students another avenue to explore in music

Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth story in a seven-part series on Pope John’s new course offerings, which are exercise science, design thinking, principles of engineering and design technology, principles of entrepreneurship, fashion and retail marketing, sports and entertainment marketing, and introduction to guitar. To check out courses like this or any other of our dynamic educational offerings, come visit our Open House on April 29 at 3 p.m. or visit www.popejohn.org.

SPARTA — In high school, music classes usually do not feature guitars.

In most cases, they entail either just singing or playing instruments that are used in a choir, orchestra or band.

Well, students at Pope John XXIII Regional High School now have the opportunity to play one of the most well known instruments during school when they take Introduction to Guitar, one of the school’s newest classes this year.

 “It’s fun to learn how to play the guitar,” Pope John sophomore Cole Danzo said. “A lot of high schools don’t offer it and kids our age don’t play it a lot. Luckily, we have it here and there is a lot you can do with the guitar.”

The idea of having an introduction to guitar course at Pope John was proposed last year by Evan Wasek, a teacher in the Fine Arts Department. Wasek, who graduated with a music education degree from William Paterson University and has played the guitar for about 15 years, felt that it would be a great avenue for Pope John students to explore in the music program.

“ Generally, music classes only have a select number of band instruments that students can play or most students in them just sing,” Wasek said. “But, this gives them a chance to still be involved in the music program.”

Once the course received approval from the school’s Academic Council, it was put into place for this year. So far, it has been a great course for the students to experience.

The students have not only learned the basics of playing guitar, but have also learned how to read music, learn about basic music theory and know how to play classical, rock and pop music.

More importantly, they have also learned values and characteristics such as work ethic, creativity and self-expression among many others

 “This gives them a sense of accomplishment every day,” Wasek said. “They are playing every day. They are sticking to a task. They are not quitting. They are getting better all the time and they are able to show off their imaginations.”

This class has certainly made an impact on students like Danzo and junior Qingyin Viola Tan.

For Danzo, taking this class was an opportunity to connect with his uncle, who plays guitar for a local band.

“He’s been playing for a long time,” Danzo said. “I want to play like him someday.”

Danzo also felt this course has helped him in other parts of his life.

“It helps with your hand-eye coordination because you have to know to play and read music at the same time,” Danzo said. “It helps me with my work ethic and it’s a great way to have fun.”

For Tan, this class has given her the chance to expand her passion for music, as she plays Chinese instruments as well. Tan also loves learning about music from the western part of the world.

“It’s pretty useful,” Tan said. “I like music a lot, so it allows me to learn how the guitar actually works and read music that is from the U.S.”

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