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One Class, One Guitar

by Daniela Rivera

Photography by Daniela Rivera

For most non-College of Fine Arts students, learning how to play an instrument is the last thing on their minds, but for every College of Communication and College of Engineering-curious student who wants to learn how to strum an acoustic guitar like their favorite star, there’s a Boston University class for that.

CFA offers guitar classes every semester for students who are neither CFA minors nor majors. Thankfully, CFA takes into consideration that not every student will have their own guitar and thus allows them to rent guitars for $40. Comparably, other guitar stores like Guitar Center have rental fees of about $200 per month.

While being able to learn to play the guitar and rent one from CFA is an appealing opportunity, this class can prove to be more of a challenge than expected. Even with rentals available for students taking the class, many students cannot make time for the lessons and practice when balancing their academic studies, and others who want to learn how to play guitar, but do not have time for the class cannot rent from BU.

Siddhartha Chopra (Questrom ’19), a student who took the beginners guitar class last semester, decided to drop the class after three weeks due time management reasons.

“I had a lot of classes and I wasn’t learning much in class,” he said. “I had to practice at least 30 minutes per day and I didn’t have the time.”

When Chopra was asked what he thought about CFA allowing students taking the beginner’s class to rent a guitar, he said the program was still helpful for students who do not own a guitar. However, he also said that students who are not taking the class should be able to rent instruments from BU.

“Not everyone has the time or the motivation to take this class. People want to learn in a stress-free environment and a class does not allow it.”

Chopra had his own guitar when he decided to take this class, and therefore did not rent a guitar through the class. Therefore, he has a different perspective than someone who needed a guitar and who would be affected if other students who did not take this beginner’s class would be allowed to rent CFA guitars.

Apryl Hsu (CGS ’19) is a student who is enrolled in the beginner’s guitar class and rented a CFA guitar this semester. When Hsu was told about Chopra’s experience and belief that other students should be able to rent a CFA guitar, she said it is unfortunate that students who are not taking the class can’t rent a guitar.

Hsu said she could see why some students would not take the class since many students put their academic classes first. According to her, the recommended amount of practice time for this class is one hour per day plus the two-hour long class; both taking up a lot of time that could be invested in other homework. Still, Hsu said that a policy change would benefit many BU students interested in music.

“Students who take the class should be prioritized and be the first to be allowed to rent a guitar, but there are other musical students on campus who can’t take the class and may want to rent a guitar.”

Yet, there is a reason only students taking this class are allowed to rent guitars. According to Warren Levenson, this semester’s beginner’s guitar teacher, CFA only allows students taking this class to rent guitars because there are only about “a dozen instruments for use in the group lessons, and virtually every semester, they are all rented.”

Being on a budget and only having twelve guitars prevents CFA from allowing other students to rent their guitars. Levenson said that an instrument rental scheme allowed for all BU students “is outside of the scope of the SOM [School of Music] and CFA.”

Until then, he suggested that students find a BU Guitar Club and collect dues to pay for rentals or membership.

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