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The Demon Tattler

The student news site of Santa Fe High School

The Demon Tattler

The student news site of Santa Fe High School

The Demon Tattler


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Strum Up the Courage to Play Guitar at Santa Fe High


The guitar is an ancient instrument, found in music from all over the world. Some of the greatest, most beautiful pieces of music have been created with a guitar, and lucky for Santa Fe High students, there’s a class where students can learn how to play, taught by Mr. Champion. 

Mr. Champion earned his undergraduate degree in classical guitar at the University of Texas at Austin and his master’s at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He started teaching at Santa Fe High in 2016, where he teaches Guitar 1, 2, and 3. 

In Guitar I, students learn the fundamentals: how to hold the guitar, basic chords, some picking patterns, and how to read some music. Later, they learn how to play the chords of popular songs.

Guitar 1 is really there to draw in the people who want to stick with the guitar,” said Santa Fe High senior and All-State guitarist Ian Oakley. 

When he began at Santa Fe High, Ian didn’t start with Jimi Hendrix-like skills: “I knew basic chords, barre chords, and some songs, but learning how to use my fingers to play the strings was still a brand new topic for me.”

Ian developed through Guitar II and III, where students build on skills they learned in Guitar 1, such as how to find notes on the fretboard, read more sheet music, and focus on finger placement and movements. 

“The level of the material and the technique goes up,” Mr. Champion said. 

Guitar 2 and 3 students also have the opportunity to audition for All-State, a series of rehearsals and concerts on the University of New Mexico campus performed by the top student musicians of New Mexico. The process begins in the summer, when audition material is posted. Students then practice and send an audition video, and the best of the best are chosen to rehearse and perform for three to four days in January. 

“It’s a fun experience if you’re into music,” Ian said.

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