Graphic: Andrew Provost, 42Fifty

Guitar players, from the shredders to the texture freaks, are an integral part of any musical project. Ranging from uses in pop, rock, punk, and even alternative music, the guitar is one of the most necessary instruments in the music world. In fact, through simple conversations and word of mouth, one can find out that Oswego High School is full of some of these guitar players.

Two OHS seniors specifically, Zane Licina and Matt Messina, have been some of the most active and hard-working musicians in OHS, especially when it comes to honing their guitar skills.

Early influences are the main thing that kicked off these students’ love for the guitar, whether they be specific artists or genres of music. Everyone has to start somewhere, and this somewhere for these players put them on a road that would define them artistically.

“I would have been 13 years old. I liked emo and pop-punk bands but at the same time, shred-metal, black-metal, and death-metal. Those two things were kind of what set me on the path [of guitar playing],” Licina said.

One other massive influence on these students’ guitar playing is their family’s support. One way these student’s families support their artistic expression is through laissez-faire or hands-off approach. Messina put it as bluntly as possible when describing this style of support.

“[My family doesn’t] care,” Messina said. “They were like: ‘Cool, [just] do your thing.”

On the other hand, when asking Licina about his family’s support on being a guitar player, he described finding a mentor through his professional musician of a father.

“My dad was a professional musician and [still] is to this day. As supportive as he was in teaching me stuff and showing me how to work the [technical aspects of music], he didn’t want me to [pursue a music career], because it is such a hard lifestyle,” Licina said. “I decided on my own, at some point, that I would keep [guitar playing] as a hobby.”

Another thing that makes these guitar players unique is how they approach their own playing styles. One one side of the soundscape, Licina favors texture and experimenting with sounds on the guitar rather than shredding like the next Eddie Van Halen.

“At this point, to express myself artistically, if I am using a guitar, it has to with playing something, re-sampling it, re-triggering it in a different order, [and] manipulating it past the point of sounding like a guitar,” Licina said.

One common way for musicians, specifically guitar players, to share their talents is through creating a band with their close friends. Messina has done just that, forming a local psych-rock band known as “Curse of Consciousness.”

“I guess I express myself through the music that [me and Curse of Consciousness] write,” Messina said. “We don’t have a lot [of songs], but [it’s still a fantastic way to express my guitar skills up to this point].”

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Sometimes, for these guitar players to express themselves through a band, they don’t even need to play their guitars. For Licina, he is taking part in a musical project that couldn’t be further away from the use of guitars.

“In the past, I have played guitar-driven bands, but in my opinion, at this point, there is very little interesting stuff you can do with a guitar and music,” Licina said. “I currently work with [senior at OHS] Michael Sharp in an electronic [and] experimental mish-mash project,” Licina said.

One of the main struggles of an OHS musician, whether you play guitar or even the oboe, is to find adequate time to practice or play in the first place. Messina especially feels this struggle to the highest degree but is now seeing more and more time to hone his skills.

“I’m bad with time management,” Messina said. “Lately, I haven’t been able to have time to play the guitar, [but] I’m on track now.”

Licina feels the same struggles when it comes to finding time to play because of how much he wants to take advantage of his schoolwork.

“[Finding time is] difficult, I can’t lie,” Licina said. “[I] have a wealth of academic opportunities here at OHS that I take advantage of. It’s usually later at night, or on weekends that I find time to make music.”

Mixing school and music seem to be a crushing battle to win for these student musicians. However, they do not discourage aspiring guitar players from pursuing their musical abilities. Messina gave some short and sweet advice with just one word for up and coming guitar players:

“Practice!”

Licina responded with his advice glazed with shining wisdom and sharp wit.

“If music is truly what drives you, and is all you can do to be happy, pursue it,” Licina said. “If you don’t feel an unwavering need to create, the go-to medical school.”

Practicing and becoming a good guitar player is no easy feat to accomplish, and through hard work and dedication, these OHS students can be the guitar players they hoped to be when they were younger. Godspeed to Licina, Messina, and other OHS guitar player’s future developments in their playing and their future musical endeavors.

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