Thalia's Story

Thalia Arviso joined Jam Pak when she was just seven years old and in the second grade. Now a freshman at Chandler High School, she writes her story for you, the bluegrass people of Arizona. At the 2013 ABA Christmas Party she was presented with a special award which read, "Dedicated teacher, nurse, and mentor in the CommUNITY of the Jam Pak Blues 'N' Grass Neighborhood Band". She is an amazing young woman who contributes her talent and time to Jam Pak, enabling its continuity and success. - Anni Beach

I remember when I was little and I would constantly ask my mom for a guitar. I would see people playing and think that was so cool. I remember when I got my first little blue guitar. I was so excited to play. After banging on the strings for a couple of days, my mom told me that she was going to find someone to teach me how to play. I had told all my friends about my guitar and my best friend at the time told me that he was in a band and that I should talk to the leader. Well, we ran into her at a school carnival — it was Mrs. Anni Beach. My mom told her that I was interested in learning how to play but had no one to teach me. Mrs. Beach told my mom about Jam Pak, and my mom said that I should try it out to see if I would like it.

I remember the first time I went to Jam Pak. I saw a lot of kids who went to my school. I saw a lot of different instruments. I had no idea that kids from my school (even some in my class) could play instruments like guitar, banjo, and bass. It was so fascinating! Soon I began getting guitar lessons at Jam Pak and started learning more and more. Every time I learned something new it would make me so happy, and that made me want to keep learning more and more about the music.

After awhile, I got really good at playing the guitar. I started taking an interest in other instruments as well, and started learning to play the bass. After years of practicing both guitar and bass, Mrs. Beach suggested that I and a couple of other kids my age (10 and 11 years old) start a little band. Our band name was "Half Way There". We stayed together for about a year, with band members coming and going. Although the band didn't last very long, I think it was a good experience. Jam Pak has given me a chance to see a different side of music. While kids my age were into just rap or hip-hop, I began getting interested in all different kinds of music due to Jam Pak.

Recently, I joined a band outside of Jam Pak called "Cabin John". I am the bass player and also do some singing. Alan Moreno plays guitar, Howard Anderson plays banjo, and Mrs. Beach is on mandolin. We practice every week. The band has given me many opportunities. I have gotten good at bass and have learned a lot of different songs. Being in the band has given me the chance to learn how to do harmony and progress in my music.

I now also teach and give guitar lessons to five Jam Pak members. When I first started giving lessons, it felt weird trying to show them something in a way that they would understand. But after some practice, I began developing different techniques for each of my students. I found that everyone learns differently. Teaching has given me the opportunity to make someone else feel excited to learn music. I am extremely proud of all my students.

Jam Pak is a wonderful opportunity that opens new doors in life. We get to have amazing experiences meeting new people, traveling, and making people happy with our music. I have met so many people that I would never have connected to without Jam Pak. I love seeing people's faces when we all get on stage and start to play. You get such an amazing feeling. I also love seeing all the Jam Pak kids get happy when they accomplish something like performing for an audience. Jam Pak is filled with amazing people who are so caring. I have never met such loving people ever in my life as in Jam Pak. Mrs. Beach is an outstanding woman who loves all of us like her own children. I am amazed at how she does it all. I am so happy that I met her eight years ago. There is no one like Mrs. Beach, and nothing else like Jam Pak. I will cherish this experience forever, and hope to continue to pass the love of bluegrass music on to others.

Thalia Arviso (Jan 2014)