It isn’t so surprising that Darlington, known for its music involvement and student achievement, would be offering guitar classes to an exclusive group of students. But what is surprising is that Darlington eighth-grader Ian Kinney is teaching the course to third, fourth and fifth graders.
“Ms. Tunnel asked me one day if I was interested in giving guitar lessons,” Ian said following his lesson on Tuesday. “It was a long time ago, and I said yes, but I had kind of forgotten about it. And then she just asked me about two weeks ago to get ready for it. I was excited and I came in with a small class of eight. It’s fun.”
Ian said Kim Tunnell, Fine Arts director for Darlington schools, sent out an email about the guitar class, which is exclusive, free and first come, first serve. The class meets from 3:30 to 4:00 after school and there will be a total of eight lessons.
Ian’s father, Owen Kinney, a Darlington teacher, is helping him oversee the class and said at home, Ian is constantly playing his guitar.
“I’m starting on my third year of really playing,” Ian said. “I had a guitar at my house and I would just teetertotter (in past years. I started out with lessons, but after doing those a couple of months, I just used Youtube. I play a lot at home. I play the bass in a band, I play the trumpet in (the Darlington) band,” he said. “I can play a little bit of piano, but not very much. I play a few songs on the piano.”
During his guitar lessons, Ian said he’s trying to keep it as simple as possible for his students.
“The first thing I’m going to start out with, since the normal chords are very big and there are a lot of finger (placements) to memorize, I’m just starting out with the base of the chord, like what your pinky finger would usually touch,” he said. “So you can get the same sound and they can just get a feel for what the chord sounds like. So then we can move onto the bigger and better chords.”
He said he was pleasantly surprised his class had caught on as quickly as they did.
“I think most of them were getting the frets down and the sounds down; it was sounding good. “I was surprised at how they would press down hard enough on the strings... they were doing great.”
Sarah Tunnell said the class was helping her expand her musical abilities.
“I wanted to learn more instruments and I wanted to because I already know (how to play) the electric bass,” she said.”
Guitar student Haley Helbing said she loved the guitar class and was learning a lot.
“He taught us different strings and he taught us different parts of the guitar,” she said. “I wanted to learn more instruments and the guitar just sounds pretty.”
Ian said he was thinking of making the classes last longer.
“I think by the way it’s been going so far, I think it’d be fun to maybe do it more than just a month,” he said.