Mathews High School students learn to play guitar through new course offering


Recognizing that not all students who enjoy music are able to or want to join band or choir, Mathews High School decided to launch a new music class this school year.  Students in grades 9-12 are now able to take guitar class with band director David Ottney, who actually began his journey into music on a guitar.

Guitar was my gateway into the music world. When I was 10, my dad got me my own acoustic guitar and book of Beatles songs and I was hooked,” said teacher David Ottney.  “My goal for this class was to provide a similar experience for our students at Mathews High School. Specifically, we were targeting certain kids who have a passion for music, but might not fit in the traditional band or choir setting.”

Seven students, all of whom are not members of band or choir, make up the inaugural guitar class.  Under the direction of Ottney, they use Yamaha acoustic guitars to learn where the notes are located on a guitar and how to strum chords.  Each week, they practice exercises to build their technique and every other week students complete a playing quiz to test their progress.

“This class is a more individual experience, where students are free to pursue their own styles and creative instincts. So far, the class has been a blast to teach. I am continually impressed by how dedicated they are to practicing at home, and the progress they have made over such a short time period,” said Ottney.

“Like Mr. Ottney, music is a hobby that began for me when I was just ten years old. I started on the trumpet and learned to play the bass guitar in college. I began playing the acoustic guitar when I became a music teacher. Every time I play an instrument, I have the goal of improving. And I am still learning after many wonderful years of being a musician. I am so thankful for music and welcome our new guitar students to a great experience that they can enjoy for many years to come. Thank you to Mr. Ottney for taking the initiative to have the guitar class for our students,” said superintendent Russell McQuaide.

Students perform what they are learning in front of other classes, and Mr. Ottney hopes to be able to use the high school’s new Mustangs Matter room for additional performances.

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