Published 12:32 am Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Grant puts new instruments in Florala students’ hands

Thanks to a $1,000 grant, Florala High School band director John Bell was able to turn his music appreciation class into the School of Rock.

“With the grant, I was able to purchase 11 guitars,” Bell said. “I have two music appreciation classes and I play the guitar so I figured I would teach my students how to play.”

Bell said that most of the students in the class have never played a musical instrument.

“They are pretty excited about learning how to play the guitar,” Bell said. “We are starting with the basics. We have a book called ‘How to play Lynard’s Guitar Method Book 1.’ It is a beginner’s book, so they are just using that to learn how to play.”

By incorporating music appreciation from last semester, Bell is able to teach the students chords to songs they learned before.

“I taught the students how to read basic music last semester,” Bell said. “Now we are just taking what we learned and applying it to the guitar. The book we are using is teaching students how to play both the melody and the basic guitar chords. The style of the songs we are learning range from classical music that we learned from last semester, to early rock.”

Bell said that it is important for these students to have these musical classes because they can incorporate what they learned in the first semester of the class.

“Until they can apply what they have learned to playing it on an instrument or singing, then they don’t get enough detail into what it means to read music,” Bell said. “They can use this for the rest of their lives if they remember the basics that I teach them, whether it be accompanying themselves when they are singing, or if they are singing in church. They will actually be able to teach themselves more later, with the basics that I am giving them now.”

Bell said that the students really enjoy the class and are even bringing their own guitars.

“They may be going out and buying them or getting them from relatives, but that just goes to show that they are interested in learning and playing outside of the classroom,” Bell said. “It shows that they are practicing.”

He plans to keep the guitars and teach the same class for the next semesters.

“I know that we won’t have the same kids coming in to the class because it rotates,” Bell said. “But we are definitely going to keep the 11 guitars so we can keep on teaching this class.”