It’s never too late to learn. Wise words one could do far worse than live by. And any errant naysayers keen to cock a snook at the authenticity of such a saying need only head to the chapel at Lisieux Hall in Chorley of a Monday night. There they will find a Project 20 Guitars session in full swing.
A non-profit, 20-person ensemble of people who have always wanted to learn to play the guitar but, as a result of various adverse circumstances, never had the opportunity to do so, Project 20 Guitars was set up by Buckshaw Village resident Andrew Kesiak in January. And Andrew is a true believer in the ‘it’s never too late to learn’ mantra.
“I’ve been a musician all my life and I believe that music is uplifting, therapeutic, and can change people’s lives,” said Andrew, 47, who teaches the group. “When you work with music across generations, it’s a medium to unite people. Many people haven’t had the opportunity to play an instrument but, no matter your background, it’s always possible to do something to learn and improve yourself.
“These are the kinds of people who came to my group: the ones who wanted to learn,” added Andrew, who is himself a member of the Hallé Choir in Manchester. “I even had a few people who came who had been told they had no chance because they were musically deaf, but after a few months they discovered just how much music actually meant to them and they were loving it.”
The benefits of music, be they social, mental, or - in some cases - physical, are well-documented, and Andrew’s underlying motivation behind setting up the project was to enable people to influence a positive change in their own lives.
Dead set on enabling people from a wide range of backgrounds to achieve the dream of learning to play the guitar - a dream previously scuppered by a lack of time, funds, or opportunities - Andrew was and remains keen to show that anybody can fulfil unrealised ambitions with a little guidance and help.
“We keep it relatively simple, but the guitar is a simple instrument and it brings so much joy; the sound of 20 guitars together is incredible,” said Andrew, who works with people who runs music therapy classes for the elderly as well as teaching music privately. “It’s an amazing story; we have people from many different backgrounds, but together they have formed an amazing group.
“It’s about creating a community, and that’s the beauty of it,” he added. “People are so engaged and happy; we support each other, we’ve become friends. People never thought such a simple thing as playing guitar could change their lives, but it’s not only about the guitar, it’s about the music.
“It improves people’s confidence and they feel assured: that’s why we have achieved so much.”
Originally, Andrew’s plan was to run the 20-person group for a year, but the group has become so tight-knit that he has agreed to continue to work with them into the New Year and even has plans to start up a new group in Buckshaw Village exclusively for those aged 50 and over.
“I started the group without anything in particular in mind, but I’ve quickly found that something extraordinary is happening,” explained Andrew, who was born in Poland and has lived in the North West for 14 years. “I’m so happy and I think it’s a beautiful story of how when people focus around music, it can change lives.
“And we don’t want to keep it just for ourselves, we want to share it with others,” he added. “From my long-term experience, I often see that music becomes people’s second language, their way of communication no matter what age they are. I strongly believe music is a powerful medium, and I’ve seen its effects for ages and I’ll carry on, because I’ve seen the results.
“It’s never too late to learn.”
Wise words indeed.
Those interested in Andrew’s new 50+ Buckshaw Village group can email him at email@example.com