May 26, 2016


Teens to show off guitar licks Friday

VetJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High School English teacher Steve Morgan, left, and sophomore Jack Davie, right, rehearse “Wagon Wheel” with music teacher Jennifer Rafferty on drums Tuesday in the school’s music room. Below, junior Clayton Boyce practices on an acoustic guitar. The teens are preparing for a rock show Friday at the Cortland Youth Bureau.

Living and Leisure Editor

For one period during the school day, Jack Davie gets to put down the books at Cortland High and don an electric guitar at the Valley View Drive school.
He’s taking High School Rock Guitar Class with 14 other teens — learning the ins and outs of acoustic and electric guitars.
“It’s a lot of fun. I have definitely learned a lot more about the theory of music, like chords, progressions, that stuff,” said Davie, a 16-year-old.
This is the first year of the class for Davie, who started playing when he was 12.
“I just really picked it back up this year,” he said.
The High School Rock Guitar Class will be showing off its stuff in a special show — the Cortland High School Rock Show, 7 p.m. Friday at the Cortland Youth Bureau, 35 Port Watson St. Free.
“I am really excited,” said Anessa Blumenfeld, 16, a tenth-grader. “I think it’s going to go well. It’s a good way to showcase what we have learned so far.”
The show will feature a mix of styles — classic rock, a reggae tune, folk, country. The students will play songs from The Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Goo Goo Dolls and Panic! at the Disco, among others.
There will be performances from two teen fully formed bands, independent of the class. And the music teachers, as well as Steve Morgan, an English teacher at Cortland High and area musician, will perform as well.
The class, taught by music teachers Jenn Rafferty and Kim Sanderson, originated last year with eight teens. This year, 15 youths are in the class.
Rafferty knew there were students out there who are musically inclined but are not necessarily in chorus, band or orchestra — and she wants music to be a part of any student’s day. Period.
“I have been teaching guitar to my students since I have been teaching — 10 years,” said Rafferty. “The more I teach, the more I learn. I learn a lot from the kids. They come in with skills on their own.”
“Everyone comes as they are,” said Sanderson. “Including us. And we grow together. Some know a little about the instrument. Some know nothing. We feed off each other.”
“And we grow in different directions. It’s very unique in that way,” said Rafferty.
Blumenfeld came to the music class knowing how to play guitar — being self-taught. She’ll be singing “Iris” with Cameron Landon, another tenth grader. And Blumenfeld will be playing the ukulele for the Goo Goo Dolls song.
Last year’s show at the Cortland Youth Bureau, the first, was very successful, Rafferty said.
“It was standing room only at the Cortland Youth Bureau ... It was nerve-wracking for me. I was getting my feet wet,” she said.
But this year, she knows all will be well.
“It was well received from the community. A lot of the people in the community want to be involved. They want to know about it. They want to know how they can help,” she said.
Rafferty and Sanderson have plans for the future and are excited. They want to teach a rock band class, explore music technology, including recording, and host a song-writing class, networking with the school’s English Department. Eventually, they’d like to host a Cortland High Battle of the Bands.
Damian Walker, 16, a tenth-grader, has been playing guitar about two years, learning on his own. This is his first year in the class, which is helping him learn chords, which can be tough.
“It’s OK. I have to keep doing it over and over, lots of practice,” he said.
He’ll play “Sweet Home, Alabama,” on lead guitar in the show.
The biggest challenge for him is playing in front of people. Thus, he plans on a perfect performance.
“It’s going to be fun, I guess,” said Damian. “At the very least, they will have a laugh if we flop.”
Clayton Boyce, an eleventh-grader who first started learning guitar in the seventh grade, is tackling notes and chords.
He’ll play “Free Falling,” a Tom Petty song, in the show.
“It makes me feel happy. It relieves all of my problems,” he said of musicπ.
Davie will be playing “House of Rising Sun” by the Animals and “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker.
“I have really started to get the rhythm down for ‘House of the Rising Sun,’” Davie said.
“This concert — we are not professionals. We’re just trying as hard as we can. And we’ve put a lot of work into it,” said Davie.


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