With MARS celebrating its third birthday this week, we decided to shine our Student of the Month spotlight on somebody who’s been around nearly as long as we have! 13-year-old CJ has been a guitar student here for more than two and a half years, and in that time has more than taken advantage of our many performance opportunities. He has participated in all four of our seasonal concerts, one studio session and every Masters Program since enrolling.
“I think the last winter concert was one of my best,” he says when I ask which performance was his favorite. “[The Masters Program kids] played basically a mini-set of the five songs we’d been working on. Of those, Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked [by Cage the Elephant] was probably our best number.” Though he typically plays guitar at these performances, he sometimes fills in when a bass player is needed. He also used to play clarinet and piano “back in the day”.
It’s clear that the majority of CJ’s musical influences come from the classic rock vein, as he tells me that he idolizes Eddie Van Halen and would love to learn how to play Bohemian Rhapsody, but he lists his top musical influence as Billie Joe Armstrong, from Green Day. “I’d love to be part of a current rock band like that, especially if it involved the guys that I played with in the last Masters Program.”
CJ clearly takes his craft very seriously and loves what he does, based on the way his eyes light up when I ask about his notoriously extensive guitar collection. He rattles off the name brands and colors of each of his instruments, including his sister’s sparkly purple bass and the Fender Squire with neon pink strings on it that he has with him today. The enthusiasm doesn’t diminish when I wrap everything up by asking what his favorite thing is about lessons. “Definitely learning from John. Every time I come here I feel like I learn something new, and I’ve been coming here a while. I really like to try things that I haven’t done before and John just gets that about me.”
Check out a video of CJ performing Ain't No Rest From The Wicked at our latest concert here!