For her first music lesson, Coral Levkovitz wanted to learn how to play “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver. Levkovitz, a first-year biology major, knew a few things about playing the acoustic guitar but had never taken a formal lesson.
She met her teacher, sophomore J.P. Rickabaugh, in Morrison Residence Hall. After they started getting to know each other, they listened to the song, and he taught her how to strum the chords verse by verse.
Levkovitz received her first lesson through Carolina Jams, a student music organization. The club now offers free music lessons to those interested in learning the guitar, piano, bass or even ukulele.
The idea to host free lessons began last spring as the newly formed club sought ways to gain momentum and let others know about their group.
“It would allow us to extend that olive branch out to people,” said Rickabaugh, a club member studying journalism with a minor in music. “(It is) creating more music in Chapel Hill.”
Rickabaugh’s own musical journey began at age 5 when his mother made him take piano lessons. Although he disliked the piano, he soon wanted to play the guitar after hearing the instrument in music by Green Day.
He said that his first lesson as a teacher for Carolina Jams went well. Watching someone else learn to make music reminded him of when he first took guitar lessons. He realized how far he had come once he started teaching another person.
Sophomore Zac Gonzalez, the founder of the club, said more people signed up than he expected. Over 60 have signed up so far to take lessons from at least one of 14 teachers they have available. He said he believes the club members themselves will grow in their musicianship as they teach others.
Levkovitz said she plans to take more one-hour lessons because she feels her teacher is experienced and knowledgeable. She sees playing the guitar as a way to relieve stress and work a different part of her brain.
When Gonzalez and Rickabaugh were first-years, they didn't find a club that quite fit their musical interests. By their second semester, they had gathered enough potential members to officially start the group. Gonzalez said he loves the people he met through the creation of the club.
“It brought a lot of connection in my life, “ said Gonzalez. “You can’t really compare anything to playing an instrument. Why not try it out?”
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