Tackling the challenge of learning something as complex as a guitar can be daunting, but eighth grader Keenan Hays was up for the challenge.
Hays first picked up a guitar in September of 2017. Hays had dreamed of playing the instrument for as long as he can remember, and his father turned his dream into a reality.
“Playing guitar was always something I wanted to do, so my dad introduced it to me,” said Hays.
The first step Hays took to learn the guitar was to first rely on his father’s teachings. Then, he reached the point of being able to play a little bit on his own and educate himself on the skills he needed and wanted to learn.
“My dad taught me the basics, but after a while, I just started teaching myself,” said Hays.
For Hays, starting to play guitar came with some mild difficulty; however, he did not have any particular hardships. He did have certain things he depended on when he needed help.
“The most helpful things are my dad, tablature websites and a chord library,” said Hays.
Hays decided that his first song would be Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” This song was the very first he ever learned, his father being the one to teach him. First, Hays went over the notes in the melody. Next, he moved towards mastering the power chords, and then he finished the song off with added muted notes.
“This is a song that helped me play better as I learned more technique,” said Hays.
Although “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was his first, Hays has taken a particular liking to the song “Holiday” by Green Day. Hays finds himself enjoying playing the song, and the “awesome guitar solo” only adds to the reasons for his favoritism.
Along with playing covers, he creates his own songs. He is in a band called Stoked with three of his friends. In the group, Hays is on lead guitar. He creates songs for his band by using an effects pedal with a looper. With this, Hays is able to play several parts and layer them over one another. Once he is happy with the product, he teaches his bandmates the parts.
“I love to make new songs, and I try to make and perfect a new one each week,” said Hays.
In the year and four months Hays has been playing, he has absorbed a lot of information and gained knowledge on guitar that has helped him play more easily. He has improved greatly from when he began and will continue to advance in the future.
In the future, Hays would like to make guitar his expertise. In an ideal world, he would be known for his skills on the instrument like some of his favorite guitarists, Slash of Guns N’ Roses and Angus Young of AC/DC.
For his band, he has similar plans. With Stoked, Hays would like to establish success, an obvious goal. He wants the group to make a name for themselves, getting noticed and being acknowledged for songs they write.
Hays’s ambition and his motivation to go somewhere with his band could be the very thing that gets him and the other members of Stoked a following of their own, along with a future in music.
Story by Masden Embry