By Karina Dunn
As a cancer survivor, Candy Wilson understands the importance of maintaining a connection to the world’s beauty despite the grief and pain inherent at certain stages of life.
Now married and in remission, she appreciates the highs and lows of life and the persistence involved in becoming a better person.
Studying with Eastfield’s Guitar Ensemble, in which she plays piano and guitar, helped Wilson find an additional anchor in music.
“No matter what happens with cancer, it has not won,” Wilson said. “The guitar gives me a form of expression I cannot find in anything else.”
Wilson began her guitar studies at Eastfield in 2012 and has played in the Guitar Ensemble each semester since. She appreciates the power of music to help her “express beauty … and escape the mundane.”
During a performance March 30 with another student, Wilson played, eyes on the strings, for brief seconds closed, nodding and rocking to the music. “It’s a very personal instrument,” Wilson said. “You cannot hide from it. You’re exposed. It helps you overcome the fears you have.”
Eddie Healy, the guitar instructor, assigns his students music pieces that build on their skill level.
Inspired to teach by former Eastfield instructors, Enric Madriguera on classical guitar and Chuck Pangburn on jazz guitar, Healy discussed the challenges and payoffs of helping students find their own paths as artists.
“Getting people to know they can formally study guitar is sometimes a struggle,” Healy said. “I want to make sure students understand the wealth of opportunities available to them and the breadth of their potential as musicians, and professional musicians.”
Healy composed a trio of pieces tailored for the ensemble. On March 30 they premiered “Before My Eyes,” sequel to last semester’s “Precipice.” The ensemble will premiere the final companion piece next semester.
Alexander Brown, president of the student-led Mariachi Club, played the trumpet with the Jazz ensemble and Dr. Oscar Passley prior to the guitarists’ performance. A fan of all types of musical traditions, he signed up for Healy’s guitar class to expand his knowledge of the instrument.
“When I first picked up [the guitar] I did strumming, normal things guitarists do,” Brown said. “But, this was classical guitar. You sit down. Hold it a different way. Play in a different way I never knew. … It was mind-blowing because some of the things I tried before were wrong. I had to re-teach myself.”
Brown wants to attend the University of North Texas to earn his Doctorate in Music Education.
“If you want to play, choose an instrument you can play for the rest of your life,” Brown said. “It requires practice and commitment, but pick it up and run with it.”
Wilson reiterated the importance of diving into the music and allowing instinct to lead.
“Some of my biggest inspirations are Eddie [Healy] and my God,” she said. “He gave this talent for a reason and it’s my job to [practice] and get everything I can out of it.”