Guitar club for kids hopes to ignite lifelong passion for music

A Fredericton music teacher has started a guitar club to ignite a passion for music in kids.   

Andrew Titus, who has played guitar for 37 years, is giving guitar classes every other Wednesday afternoon at Barker's Point and Royal Road elementary schools.

"Every music teacher has their thing that they do," Titus said. "Some play the violin. Some play the piano, and I play the guitar."

One day, when Titus pulled out his guitar in class, the students asked him if he was going to start a club.

"Being naive, I said, 'Yeah, for sure I'm going to do that,' and then before I knew it, it gained momentum."

His new club is based at the two north-side elementary schools but is open to any children in Grades 4 and 5. 

Titus reached out to people on social media, announcing he was starting the club and asking if anyone had guitars they were willing to donate.

Sarah Morin/CBC

He received a cash donation from Chantilly Lace Designs, a local wedding design business. He then contacted Digital World, a pawn shop, to see if he could get a deal on guitars.

"They gave me a number of guitars for way less than they would have cost if I'd just gone in as an individual to buy them," Titus said in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.

He is accepting acoustic and classical guitars of all sizes. So far, he has about 17.

"A classical and acoustic guitar teaches the children's fingers how to really stretch and push. It creates muscle in the hands."

Sparking an interest

Titus said music is more than a way for kids to express themselves.

"[If] a kid especially a young kid becomes interested early it could very well carry them throughout their whole life," he said.

"In tapping into our interests [music] produces dedication. It produces connection with other people. I think those are the kind of things that we all know we need."

He said parents contacted him after the first guitar session Wednesday saying their kid hasn't put down the guitar since they left.

"I love that spark that you see and when you offer a kid, especially a kid who doesn't have one [because] maybe their family doesn't have the means to purchase one for themselves, seeing that look when they hold on to it for the first time is just like that new puppy look and they're so into it."

Titus is teaching guitar after school to about 60 children in the club.

"I really got the sense that the kids were interested in learning a way to express themselves through this means, and I mean the wonderful thing about working with kids is that they're so open to a million different things."

He hopes the lessons will continue, regardless of where he's teaching.

"I want to put into place a culture of playing guitar in these elementary schools, so if I'm not doing it somebody else will. So I need to have guitars there, even if I'm not."