Lana Thurman: A Documentary on Learning to Play Guitar

Watch Lana’s chronicle of her guitar learning journey here:

Before the outbreak of coronavirus, I usually spent my time doing homework, researching for my thesis, and writing grants. When I first heard of COVID-19 in January I was preparing to conduct an independent research project in Europe, funded by a Travel Abroad Grant from the Honors College. Back then I had no idea how quickly the virus would sweep through the world. Within weeks my classes were moved online. All travel was canceled. Although I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to research abroad, I chose to look on the bright side. Quarantine is necessary to protect the community and save lives. I knew that it would be important to use my time confined indoors productively, and despite the looming pandemic, quarantine provided an opportunity to learn new skills and pursue my goals. I decided that the best way to deal with the anxiety of this pandemic was with art.
        I had always wanted to play the electric guitar, but I never learned how– until this summer, and it’s due to the coronavirus that I was able to learn. When my research trip was canceled, I had the option to still gain online credit this summer by proposing an independent experiential learning project. I knew immediately what I wanted to propose. Finally, I had the opportunity to teach myself how to play the guitar! My professor was excited to hear my proposal, and I created a 5-week schedule for my daily lessons. Instead of taking a flight to Frankfurt, on June 1st, 2020, I began my first guitar lesson. By the end of the first week, I could read tablature and play guitar riffs, and by week 2 I could play entire songs. By week 3, I started to play songs that incorporated chords, like “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. With each lesson, I gained confidence and speed. By July 3rd I had learned to play 40 songs on the electric guitar. I filmed every lesson and compiled it all into a video journal, which I submitted as my final project for the class. I’m so excited to share my journal with everyone!
        Although this summer isn’t anything like I had planned, I am grateful for the outcome. Despite the isolation that comes with quarantine, I have gained new hobbies, learned new skills, and gained healthy ways to cope with stress. Cooking, painting, and now playing guitar are all ways that I have spent my summer, and if not for coronavirus I likely would not have engaged in these newfound pastimes. I long for an end to this tragic pandemic, but in the meantime, I hope to encourage others to engage in self-care. Learning how to play the guitar provided me with an outlet for my stress, and it led me to realize the therapeutic value of hobbies. I encourage everyone to make the most of these hard times by finding an activity that they enjoy. Someday this quarantine will end, and when it does, the benefits of learning a new skill will follow you for life.