student Jacob Bashkin said there are so many guitars in his house that he could probably play a different guitar in every room.
The graduating senior has a guitar in his room, a bass guitar in the basement, and a couple of guitars in both the living room and the dining room. The only rooms that are void of a guitar are the kitchen and the dining room, which, Jacob said, are already cluttered enough.
“We have over 10 guitars. My dad collects them. And I am fine with that. Just more for me to play. I can go play anywhere in the house, which is nice,” Jacob said.
Growing up surrounded by all this music, combined with an innate determination and ability to focus for long periods of time has paved the way for an impressive musical career for the college-bound senior.
Jacob started playing guitar when he was in first grade and joined the Childbloom program, which specializes in teaching youngsters to play guitar.
He also played bass guitar for the University City High School Jazz band and currently performs in a performance ensemble called the St. Louis Bella Corda, a St. Louis-based guitar ensemble. With the Bella Corda, he has played in many cities across the United States. He also played in Germany last year.
“He was very energetic and excitable in many ways but also showed an ability to focus and concentrate on the things that interested him whether it was art or music or projects,” said Jacob's father, Jim Bashkin.
Jacob's dad said his son's great concentration abilities manifested itself in some non-musical ways, even as a youth.
When Jacob was younger, he devoted a significant amount of energy and focus reading books on origami and learning complex structures that enabled him to build wonderful puzzles that would be undecipherable to the average person. At first, Jacob considered devising an interesting business opportunity by selling these pieces at school. He later decided, with the encouragement from his parents, to give them away to his friends instead. His father said Jacob got a lot of joy out of making the origami pieces for his friends.
Jacob carried this focus and discipline with him as an adolescent and geared it toward playing classical guitar and bass guitar. For many years, he played four to six hours a day, every day. His father said he always had a guitar in his hands. Jacob said he has probably spent more than 10,000 hours playing guitar throughout his life.
When he isn't plucking away at strings for Bella Corda, Jacob likes to play classic rock music. Some of the music that floods his iPod includes classic rock bands from The Beatles, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones.
Jacob has received both a merit and music scholarship to Beloit College, a liberal arts based university in Beloit, WI.
Although music has always been a huge part of Jacob's life, he's considering majoring in something more along the lines of math or science.
“I have always been told there is a connection with music and science,” Jacob said.
Jacob's aptitude for math and science is evident in his course load throughout the past two years at University City High School, which has consisted of AP Chemistry, AP Biology, and physics. He also scored an overall score of 31 on the ACT assessment test.
Bashkin's guitar instructor Kirk Hanser, director for the St. Louis Academy for Guitar said Bashkin's passion and love for playing music is something that is “in his blood.”
“For some people they want to do music. For others, they can't put the guitar down. He is one of those people who can't put the guitar down,” Hanser said. “Jacob is just wired to play music, and because of that it is second nature for him, and it will always be second nature.”