Program aims to teach students guitar

LINCOLN — A new program through Inspiration Alcona and an Alpena volunteer aims to teach students at Alcona Community Schools guitar.

Joel Choate Jr., whose parents own Joel’s Guitar Shop in Alpena, is volunteering his time as an instructor to teach the students through the Thunder Bay After School Music Program.

The program for junior high and high school students offers free instruction and a loaned instrument to help kids learn guitar, Choate said.

He said part of the reason the program began is the requests from many people for musical lessons.

“I don’t lose students very often, so I don’t get new students very often and I had a small list of people from Alcona who wanted to get lessons for more than a year,” he said.

Choate said Alcona Judge Laura Frawley, who works with Choate on the Thunder Bay Folk Festival, suggested a group be put together to meet for guitar lessons for Alcona youth interested.

Others got involved in getting the program going, and soon Choate was going to the school to teach a group of students one day of week when school started.

One roadblock to the program, however, was the need for guitars to teach the children.

“We have kids who did not have guitars and it’s almost impossible to learn guitar without one at home,” he said. “So I put a feeler out on Facebook to see if anyone had any old used guitars.”

Choate said there were many who donated used guitars or guitars that needed some work or tender loving care to get operational again.

“Right now I am sitting on a dozen or so of them, and I have repaired six or seven of those,” he said.

Choate said the guitar shop is donating time and materials to repair the instruments for use by the class.

Students will be allowed to use the donated guitars free of charge and the instruments will be passed along to other students as they enter and exit the program

He said he would like to expand the program into surrounding counties and offer free lessons to even more youths.

According to Choate students who are interested in doing the program can contact the Alcona Community Schools media center, where the classes take place. He said right now the program is only available in Alcona.

Choate said anyone interested in donating a guitar for the program can drop the instrument off at Joel’s Guitar Shop. More information on the program can be found by calling Choate at 464-4232

Jason Ogden can be reached via email at jogden@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews.