Almost everyone has a favorite song, and it’s reasonable to assume that many people have their favorite guitar-heavy song. At Notre Dame Preparatory High School, students have the opportunity to take an unlimited number of guitar classes. Students spend thousands of hours practicing technique and composition before showcasing their talent. Advanced guitar is a class for students who are seeking a challenge. Over the course of the semester, students in this class learn to play everything from “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin and “Message in a Bottle” by The Police. At the end of the semester, as their final exam, students perform a song of their choosing in front of the whole class.
Advanced guitar’s final is spread out over several days with approximately two students performing each day. On November 14th, the performances of two NDP seniors marked the beginning of the final project. Andrew Pierce’s performance of “Drink in My Hand” by Eric Church was immediately followed by Will Lynch’s cover of “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“When I was a kid,” Pierce explained, “I hated country music. I could not stand the southern accent . . . But as I grew older, I learned to appreciate country, and now I love it.”
Church undoubtedly belongs to the country music genre, and his music is vastly different than the alternative rock of the 1990s.
In offering insight as to his song choice, Lynch said, “After doing some research on great guitar players, I started to really like John Frusciante . . . ‘Under the Bridge’ is my favorite song of his, and I just wanted everyone else to hear how great it is.”
For some background information, John Frusciante is the lead guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He is without a doubt one of the defining guitarists of the 1990s.
In order to be fair to Kairos attendees, showcasing resumed on Monday, November 19 when Paolo Rances, Chandler Cook, and Cameron Duffill performed. Definitely not going for the easy ‘A’, Rances began with his version of Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption,” dubbed as one of the most difficult and impressive guitar solos of all time. “Eruption” is the name of the guitar solo that precedes Van Halen’s version of “You Really Got Me.” The song was released in 1978 under Van Halen’s self-titled album.
“I was really nervous,” Paolo admitted, “it took me a really long time to get. There’s a reason why Eddie Van Halen is considered one of the best guitarists of all time. Some of his work is nearly impossible to replicate.”
Rances elaborated that other students seldom try to perform the work of such an incredible guitar player. He feels that the Rock music of the 1970s and 1980s is a renaissance of good guitar players.
He said, “That’s what I listen to . . . I love music from that time period.”
Cook, unlike most of the students in Advanced Guitar, is a junior. For a younger student with less experience, being in Advanced Guitar is no small feat. He played “Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace, a major grunge, hard rock and metal band which rose to prominence in the 2000s. This particular song was released in 2006.
So far, students have chosen everything from Van Halen in the late 1970s to Three Days Grace in the 2000s to Eric Church in 2011. To conclude Monday’s class, senior Cameron Duffill performed the legendary “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne. Although Osbourne was credited, the guitar player on that song is Randy Rhoads, another notorious composer. This song was released in 1980.
Once again, a student from this class chose a song from the 1970s-1980s era of music. With country musician Eric Church as an outlier, it seems that Advanced Guitar students prefer the hard rock-alternative genre. This is interesting given recent music taste polls geared toward today’s youth. According to a 2013 Facebook poll, the two most popular music genres amongst millennials are rap/hip-hop and pop. In addition, in 2017, Forbes magazine conducted a poll that found hip hop to be the most popular genre in America.
With approximately one month left in the semester, there are still several students who need to perform their song. What songs did they choose? Did they follow the rock-n-roll examples of their predecessors? Cierra Babbrah and Kiara Cornella are two students who performed on November 21. Babbrah chose “Georgia” by Australian indie-pop artist Vance Joy, who released the song in 2015.
Cornella played a rendition of “Sweet Creature” by Harry Styles. Though previously a member of a pop-culture boy band, Styles’s new album, which features “Sweet Creature”, is considered soft-rock/folk-rock.
Of all the students in Notre Dame’s advanced guitar, none are playing a hip-hop or rap tune. Furthermore, no one seems to be playing a pop song with artists such as Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and Selena Gomez. There seems to be a consensus amongst these talented students; rock music dominates their music musical preferences which starkly contrasts to other members of their generations. It is, perhaps, their love of the guitar that fuels the love for music that’s not necessarily modern and techno-heavy. Whatever the cause, diversity in musical taste has always been present in mankind, and many believe it’s vital to composing music that continues to inspire and revolutionize future generations.