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Moving along through music

Pictured+is+freshman+Leif+Tilton.
Pictured is freshman Leif Tilton.

Pictured is freshman Leif Tilton.

Photo by: Kaitlyn Zellner

Photo by: Kaitlyn Zellner

Pictured is freshman Leif Tilton.

Austyn Keelty, Photo Editor

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Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie Van Halen… whether it was in the basement of a suburban home or the band hall of a middle school, these famous guitarist all had to start somewhere.

Often times people hear inspiring stories about a child who dreamed of becoming like their role model and pushed themselves to greatness because of it, but freshman Leif Tilton does not have that typical story. Born into a musically talented family, Tilton was given a choice between guitar or harp and has currently been playing guitar since he was six years old.

“Being a six year old, I didn’t think much of my future or really anything of how guitar would change my life,“ Tilton said. ”I never had something inspiring me to begin playing. It was really just  a choice.”

Due to his family history of having an aunt that studied at Juilliard in New York City for the cello and a grandmother who studied at the Royal College of Music in London for violin, finding inspiration wasn’t difficult for Leif. However his mom, Alice Tilton, and guitar teacher, Matt Hinsley, have also been prominent figures towards Tilton’s success.

“Watching Leif progress over the years has been inspiring and from very early on, Leif connected with the guitar in a special way, where it just seemed very natural and innate to him,” Alice said. ”As he improved, he had more fun with it and practiced more.”

Even though Leif undoubtedly has had a lot of help along the way, it has been up to him to improve his skills and mastery of guitar. Hinsley explains the quirky steps musicians must take in order to improve.

“It’s an interesting thing about pushing beyond limits. I don’t know that I, as a teacher, necessarily do that and I think the music does that, and I think Leif does the rest,” Hinsley said. “Music is one of the wisest, most patient and most demanding teachers I know because if you listen to it, it will guide you.”

Being so invested in a hobby can make time-management difficult. Typically practicing an hour a day, playing guitar for school, and having one outside-of-school lesson every week, Leif has been adapting to balancing his normal teenage life, school, and guitar.

“It can take up a lot of your time and it’s like a commitment, so if you want to go do something with your friends it’s an obstacle and it’s like I have to get this done before I can go do something else,” Leif said.

Adding to his claim to fame, Leif has a personalized, hand-crafted guitar, which 150 has only produced in the world, and has been hired to perform at public events like parties, bank openings, and fundraisers.

“Typically my guitar teacher helps organize it and he’ll get emails from people asking if they can borrow one of your guitarists and they usually request me,” Leif said. ”I played for the Charles Sauve opening and they cut the ribbon which was really cool.”

Although guitar has taken up a tremendous amount of Leif’s life, he doesn’t see guitar becoming apart of his future career. Leif challenges himself by taking all pre-ap classes and has other aspirations such as architecture and design.

“I definitely have my own personal interests, maybe getting a minor in guitar. I don’t see myself professionally playing for an audience,” Leif said.

Through the years, Tilton has made a lasting impression on the adults and peers around him. Having the same guitar teacher since he was six has allowed for a tight and lasting relationship with his teacher.

Leif is so much more than a tremendous guitar player. He’s that, to be sure, but he’s humble, generous, kind, caring, smart, intrepid. There’s a lot of soul there,” Hinsley said.

Art by Dalton Spruce

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