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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Guitar Club is fostering a welcoming environment for guitar players of all levels

The members of the guitar club at the introductory meeting.

Despite being locked out of the orchestra room for 10 minutes, the new FHC Guitar Club managed to hold a successful first meeting with a well-rounded turnout of students. The guitar club officially joined the numerous amounts of clubs in school on Nov. 11, with aspirations to become a safe place for students of all ages. 

Juniors Autumn VanSolkema and Rowan Szpieg, who are the co-founders of the guitar club, were extremely pleased with how the opening meeting commenced, creating a community of striving guitar players within the school. 

“For a first meeting, it was good,” Autumn said. “We had a good turnout. We did our little circle and asked ‘What’s your name,’ ‘Why do you want to learn guitar,’ and ‘How long have you been playing,’ that type of stuff.” “Yeah, it was definitely a little awkward at first,” Rowan added. “But I feel like once when we said, ‘Hey, this is a guitar club, let’s actually play now,’ it got a lot better. Everybody fell into a rhythm and realized that we had the same passion.”

The idea for the guitar club first blossomed into reality over the most recent summer, on a midsummer’s day in July, when Rowan and Autumn were playing guitar for others. They joked about what it would be like to create a guitar club but then dropped the idea for a while until momentum picked up around the early months of school to actually bring the idea to fruition. 

Along with that momentum came the need for a teacher advisor. Rowan and Autumn decided to ask yoga teacher Stacey Steensma, who gladly agreed to help them with their desire to create the guitar club although she doesn’t yet play guitar.

“I don’t play the guitar,” Steensma said. “I’ve had an acoustic guitar that I have been wanting to learn how to play. So that’s what inspired me. I can use this opportunity to learn how to play the guitar.”

The guitar club meets every Thursday in the orchestra room after school, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Although plenty of players showed face at the introductory meeting, Steensma would highly encourage more students to join the club as it provides a place for students to foster extracurricular education. 

“It’s always a great thing to learn a new skill,” Steensma said. “And if you already know how to play, then we do need some leaders. So all ranges of abilities will be very helpful. What better way to spend a little extra time [than] with classmates and learn a new art?”

Autumn and Rowan first began playing guitar at different times: Autumn during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Rowan when she was 13. At first, Autumn quit playing after about two years until Rowan began strumming her guitar, which reignited her passion for the instrument. Similarly, Rowan abandoned the guitar after she recorded herself playing for the first time, which discouraged her from continuing. 

“But I feel like once when we said, ‘Hey, this is a guitar club, let’s actually play now,’ it got a lot better. Everybody fell into a rhythm and realized that we had the same passion.”

— Rowan Szpieg

However, once the proposition for the guitar club emerged, Autumn and Rowan were reminded of why they wanted to start the club in the first place, prompting them to take action. 

“In sixth grade, when you got to pick your instrument, guitar and piano were not offered,” Autumn said. “And personally, that made me upset because that was the one instrument I wanted to ever learn. So, I wanted a place where people could come together, learn, play, and just have a good time with music.”

For Rowan, music has always been an everlasting part of her life, so guitar club was a perfect way to express her interests.

“It’s difficult, especially in high school, to branch out and test the waters with new people,” Rowan said. “It’s hard to find that group of people that have the same interests. So this was just a really simple way to get people together and teach people and be very inclusive with shared passions.”

At the meetings, Autumn and Rowan have created a manageable system to conduct the class, first meeting with everyone personally, then proceeding with a “progress circle” where everyone can go around and display what they worked on during the week. It’s a great way for everyone can show off their talents. 

Altogether, the main goal for the guitar club is to continue to teach other students the way to a successful relationship with guitar as well as to have fun and create a safe space where people can feel comfortable talking to a peer. In high school, it can be hard for some to find others to feel comfortable with, so the guitar club hopes to encourage these students to reach out. 

Additionally, members of the guitar club can learn to play their favorite songs on the guitar, with some popular examples from Taylor Swift, Peter Gabriel, and more popular artists. 

“I taught Lexi some Taylor Swift songs,” Autumn said. “And I could see that she got really excited about it and started to like the guitar. I have a binder full of songs, and three people took songs home to practice for next week. I took that as a personal win.”

With the first meeting done, Autumn, Rowan, and Ms. Steensma are all looking forward to the next time the guitar club will meet. For an hour and 15 minutes every Thursday, people from all grades can come together in a chill atmosphere to learn the guitar and make new friends through a welcoming environment. 

“It’s just a fun way to have music still built into your schedule,” Autumn said. “It’s nice to play with people who want to play.”

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About the Contributor
Maylee Ohlman, Staff Writer
Maylee Ohlman is a sophomore going on to her first year on The Central Trend.  She spontaneously decided to join Writing for Publication this year and is now excited to keep writing for the rest of her time in high school.  She is part of the FHCVDT and plans to also keep dancing for many years.  In her free time, she loves to read and try new bubble tea spots across Grand Rapids.  She loves to feel like a tourist anywhere she goes and aspires to travel as much as she can in her lifetime.  She is enthused to begin writing for The Central Trend this year. Favorite book: Better than the Movies by Lynn Painter Favorite TV show: The Last of Us Go-to bubble tea order: A peach milk tea with lychee jelly and tapioca pearls

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