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TUSD hosts its first-ever guitar festival at Sahuaro High School

Over 200 students from across Tucson sharpened their guitar skills with university faculty
Posted at 5:42 PM, Mar 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-04 19:45:46-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Sahuaro High School hosted Tucson Unified School District’s first-ever guitar festival.

The event attracted over 200 students from 11 Tucson schools, who took part in all-day workshops led by university instructors and faculty from across the state.

Philip Hemmo, a music instructor at Sahuaro High School, organized the event. He was able to recruit established music instructors through his days as a faculty member at the University of Arizona, Pima Community College and Northern Arizona University.

“When I took this position a year-and-a-half ago, I reached out to many of the other schools and teachers,” Hemmo said. “I told them that I wanted to help out in any way I can, so that we can all increase the importance of guitar education.”

Hemmo said that the event serves to showcase the significance of music education, which he says extends beyond music. Both the National Institute of Health and the American Psychological Association have shown that students who learn music at a young age go on to score higher test scores in other academic disciplines.

Hemmo sees these same impacts at Sahuaro High School.

“Students who are successful in our music classes are successful in their science class and their math class because music is science, music is mathematics, music is literature,” Hemmo said. “So it really does help everyone in all areas.”

Hemmo focused on guitar because the instrument can be learned relatively quickly compared to other instruments. This helps build confidence in young people and lets them prove to themselves what they can accomplish.

“Instruments like piano and violin and some of the other orchestral instruments require you to start young if you want to get really good at them,” he said. “The guitar is one of these instruments that a student can start their first year of high school or middle school and still be able to achieve a high level of success.”

The guitar festival finished off with a free public concert in the Sahuaro High auditorium on Monday evening.

Sahuaro High School’s guitar orchestra will also appear Saturday, March 9, at 4 p.m. at the Tucson Festival of Books.