Boys and Girls Club hosts guitar Christmas concert

Right before the weekend, children in Elizabethton got to share in the holiday spirit with one another in song and cheer, all part of a legacy one man is determined to leave behind.

Children at the Boys and Girls Club got to participate in a Christmas guitar with young guitar players Friday evening, listening to the culmination of weeks of practice and lessons as they spent time with each other during the holiday season.

John Bland said he has been giving students at the club these guitar lessons for several years.

“This is absolutely fantastic,” Bland said. “This is part of a legacy that will carry on.”

Bland, a cancer survivor, said he has spent his time trying to give back to his community, and inspiring the next generation with a love for music is one of those methods, especially given his own history with the instrument.

“I have been playing since I was 12,” he said. “That is a lot of years.

Students who learned from Bland spent the past several weeks learning the basics, including finger position, how different chords work, etc. If that sounds easy, Bland said it is anything but.

“We started with 14 [students],” he said. “We went down to six. We have a whole class on how to hold a pick.”

Despite the difficulty, those who performed Friday evening received applause and joy from their classmates at the club. The performers played a variety of Christmas songs, including Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy and their finale, in which everyone stood up and sang along to Jingle Bells.

The lessons are special, he said, in part because commissioner Charles Von Cannon donated the guitars for his students to use, so the lessons are free.

“I want to teach that same passion,” Bland said.

He said part of the motivation was also to provide an opportunity to learn music without having to pay hundreds of dollars for standard music lessons elsewhere.

“They have got a home here,” he said. “I want to reach out, mold them to be better people.”

As students smiled and cheered on their classmates on stage as they sang along, the whole center was feeling the holiday spirit that night.

Bland said he is not quite done giving back, however.

“I just wish I could do more,” he said.

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