In the Classroom with Tom Guarna

Students in the Great American Songbook classes are working to perfect classic songs with guest artist Tom Guarna, a Grammy-nominated guitarist, composer, and arranger. Guarna works individually with each student on a variety of instruments to help them excel at their crafts.

“Tom has definitely pushed me as someone who is trying to branch off into different instruments and different styles,” says student Lucas Spillman. “He allows me to work at a pace that that makes me as good as I can be. As an artist you need critiques and someone who is not going to sugarcoat everything. When something doesn’t work and can be better, he lets you know, and it only makes the song better.”

Spillman is accustomed to showcasing his vocal talent, as is evident with the songs he performs in class “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Misty,” and “Caravan.” However, Guarna has also encouraged him to practice his abilities as a bassist with the song “Autumn Leaves.”

“My favorite part of LIHSA is that I get to work solely on music,” adds Spillman. “I get to work on skills that I want to hone in my future. I am able to get feedback and collaborate with teachers and other professional musicians who are like-minded.”

Guarna first joined LIHSA during the 2023 Summer Arts Academy and we are very lucky to have him as a guest artist this year.