Co-Lin offers a taste of music

Published 12:58 am Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Natchez — James Campbell strummed his first chords 35 years ago and now he is hoping to help mold a new generation of guitarist.

Campbell is the instructor for this week’s beginning guitar class at Copiah-Lincoln Community College Kid’s College.

It was Campbell’s older brother who got him started on the strings when he brought the instrument home one day. But it was Campbell who picked up the instrument, and with the help of a Mel Bay guitar book, began teaching himself the art.

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Campbell used the book to lay the foundation for a lifetime of enjoyment, he said.

“The book taught me the basic chords,” Campbell said. “Once you can play the basics you can learn to play anything.”

Now, Campbell is passing his love of the guitar on to area children.

This summer is Campbell’s second teaching at Co-Lin, but in previous years he has taught guitar classes at the Boys & Girls Club and has worked with the school district to teach children at the alternative school.

“I just love working with kids. They are so inquisitive,” Campbell said. “Children are willing to try just about anything.”

Blake Green is one of Campbell’s students that is taking in the music at Co-Lin. Green is formerly of Natchez but now living in Jackson.

The first-time guitarist said he is having a good time learning the basic chords.

“The music is fun,” Green said.

Campbell said playing the guitar is how he relaxes

“Some people like to fish and some like to hunt, but playing guitar is my way of relaxing,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he doesn’t know how many of his students will continue playing guitar after this class is over. But says if the students are willing to put some time into practicing, they can learn to play the guitar.

“I don’t know if many continue after the class but the more they practice the more they learn,” Campbell said. “If a child really starts to learn to play, they will continue to play.”

Just like the Mel Bay book did for Campbell 35 years ago, the Kid’s College class just teaches the basic chords and progressions.

But that’s OK with Campbell.

“Music is music,” Campbell said. “You use the same pattern for gospel music as you do for rock and roll.”

Kirby Richard, 18, is assisting Campbell in teaching the class this year. The recent Cathedral graduate doesn’t play guitar but that doesn’t keep her from helping out.

“It is a learning experience for me too but that makes it fun,” Richard said.

Being a self-taught musician, Campbell understand the learning curve and knows that mistakes are just part of the process.

“Anybody who has never made a mistake has never played a guitar,” Campbell said.

Kid’s College is a program offered by Co-Lin to provide educational and fun classes for area children. Classes are during June and July and range in topic from math and computers to acting and cooking.

For more information on Kids College, contact Beth Richard at Co-Lin Natchez at 601-446-1103.