In the economic recession, many schools across Montgomery County were forced to slash classes and activities. Music and arts departments were often hard hit, leading many to bemoan a lack of musical talent being nurtured. Freshman Shauli Guttman is a direct counterargument to that claim, excelling at the guitar and currently the only freshman in Bethesda Chevy Chase High School’s Honors Jazz Band.
Born in Israel and moving to the Washington D.C. area when he was 2 years old, Guttman has been influenced by Israeli culture and music. “I often find myself ‘quoting’ Israeli guitarists in my solos, and to me Israeli music is more complex and interesting than American music,” Guttman remarked.
Shauli Guttman is a member of five bands, from the BCC Jazz Band and Jazz Combo to his own leisure musical groups called Jam Lab, Heinous Misgivings, and the Union of Sgt. Teddy. The BCC Jazz Combo recently performed before delegates to the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher (Student) Associations. As the lone freshman in the Jazz Band, Guttman says it was intimidating at first, but now it “is a lot of fun… I get to meet a lot of upperclassmen and interact musically with people I wouldn’t normally meet.”
All of these commitments can be challenging, and Guttman practices “on average 15 hours a week, including various rehearsals and concerts.” He adds that “being a good guitarist means sacrificing time that you would normally spend studying or hanging out with friends.” Playing the guitar also requires a lot of equipment, and Guttman owns five electric guitars, one bass guitar, a keyboard, a drum set, an audio interface, and a studio quality microphone.
When asked about the state of BCC’s music department, Gutmann spoke optimistically. “The guitars and drums that the school owns may not be professional models, but they get the job done.” However, he did acknowledge that the situation was not ideal and that funding cuts are still damaging.
Shauli Guttman also has some advice for young aspiring musicians. “The way to be a good guitarist or musician is practice and dedication. Practice hard. If you don’t practice, you are cheating yourself.” In his tenth year of playing the guitar, Shauli Guttman is a talented and experienced musician in BCC, and he has a bright future ahead of him.
Article by Max Cohen, MoCo Student staff writer