The Man Behind the Guitar

by: Shannon Mahon and Hayley Charles

In the midst of this chaos we call life, a man and his guitar carry a dream. Luke Johnson, instructor of music, teaches young musicians important lessons that can be linked to far more than a classroom. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Music, Johnson decided to pursue teaching and obtain a master’s degree and did so while maintaining a 4.0. “I wasn’t doing a lot with music when I first graduated, I was actually involved with retail management,” Johnson said. “I missed music though. I wanted to come back and do what I love.”

For many musicians, the process of creating and producing allows for a real connection with their personal style. “Learning is a musical instrument is a skill, not very different from learning a sport, like golf,” Johnson said. “There are two parts: you have to allow your brain to comprehend the ideas and then your body must go along with it. It takes a lot of repetition, muscle memory and practice.”

With the hard work involved in learning a musical instrument getting students to enjoy the music they are playing is key.

“Everyone is really different and the guitar is very versatile so I try to find music the students all like,” Johnson said. “Whether it is country, rock, blues, or jazz…we try to focus on each one finding something they enjoy because if they play a piece they don’t like then how will they ever be excited about it?”

Like his students Johnson focused his study through the influence of others.

“Wes Montgomery was a guitar player in the 1960′s and he really influenced me,” Johnson said. “I like poetry and going to readings as well…different mediums are good to delve into. Expressing yourself is important, whether it is with notes or words.”

Before Johnson was an instructor though, he had to be a beginner, just like his students. Growing up, he had a passionate curiosity for music. In the fifth grade, Johnson found his very first instrument, the trombone. From that point until entering college, a trombone was his primary instrument. However, he also picked up the guitar along the way as a hobby and that is now his favorite to play.

Prior to receiving his master’s degree, Johnson was already on the path to teaching others the skill set he had perfected. After he began to play the guitar, people started asking him for lessons and this quickly grew into a large group of friends, family, and neighbors all learning about the instrument. “I’ve always been involved in the Hays area with people, even when I didn’t live here,” Johnson said. “This is a great community. I absolutely love it. My grandparents, parents, and brothers all graduated from FHSU. That may just make me biased, but I love the university. It’s top notch, it really is.”

*The original posting of this article contained some misrepresentations of the structure of student lessons and has been re-edited. The Tiger Media Network apologizes for the error.

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  1. Mike Thompson on October 24, 2013

    I really like how Luke Johnson compares learning to play an instrument to playing a sport. The fact that in both cases we must train our brains as well as our body’s through repetition and practice.

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