Guitar lessons offered at Offutt Published March 16, 2011 By Staff Sgt. James M. Hodgman 55th Wing Public Affairs OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- For anyone with a desire to play like Jimmy Hendrix or entertain friends with smooth guitar licks, the community activity center here can help. Guitar lessons are available at Offutt's CAC every Wednesday night starting at 5:30 p.m. Each lesson lasts 30 minutes and costs $12.50. Robert Whitbeck, the instructor for each lesson, has been playing guitar since 1979 and teaching members of Team Offutt to play since the summer of 2008. With early lessons, Mr. Whitbeck guides students through learning the notes on the strings, how to read scored music, and how to properly count a beat. From there, he focuses on helping students learn about chords, different accompaniments and how to play in the music style the student prefers, such as rock or country. "Teaching and playing guitar are two of my passions and of course teaching guitar combines both," he said. Teaching the Offutt community to play guitar has benefits, Mr. Whitbeck added. "Students for the most part have been serious about learning, and the parents do a good job of getting them to lessons and ensuring they've practiced," he added. Maj. Dave Jones, chief of space control requirements for United States Strategic Command, has been taking guitar lessons here since the summer of 2010. Today, he can play a few short songs and hopes to one day play like Stevie Ray Vaughn or Keith Urban. "I had a strong desire to play since I've been a kid," Major Jones said. While stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Major Jones said he bought a guitar and tried to teach himself to play. Unfortunately, he wasn't making much progress and shortly after arriving at Offutt decided to sign up for lessons. The lessons, he said, have been great. "I needed someone to make sure I was holding the guitar right and making the right chords," Major Jones said. "I feel like I'm making a lot of progress." The major has several reasons to continue with lessons as well. He would like to one day be able to entertain some friends around a campfire as he strums out a tune they know, and he would love to be able to play off the cuff, he said. However, his greatest motivation to continue learning is little Henry David Jones; his 3-month-old son. "I'm learning to play for him and hopefully one day with him," Major Jones said. For anyone who wants to play guitar, taking lessons just makes sense. "If a person has a passion to play the guitar, I definitely encourage lessons," Mr. Whitbeck said. "Lessons do a number of things including keeping the student moving along and progressing." With lessons, Mr. Whitbeck continued, technique can be quickly addressed and corrected and students generally go further and achieve their potential to a greater degree than someone who hasn't taken lessons. So, if you've ever imagined yourself tearing it up on stage for thousands of screaming fans, or you just want to entertain friends and family with your guitar, the lessons at the CAC here can help you achieve those goals. For more information about guitar lessons, call 294-6247.