Guitar program at CES to use Chord Buddy

Published 3:42 pm Wednesday, March 14, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Clanton Elementary School had a special musical guest on March 13, when Travis Perry introduced students to Chord Buddy.

Chord Buddy is an attachment for a guitar that makes it easier to learn to play by eliminating the need to learn chord fingering when first staring out by pressing the chord strings with the push of one button. Many beginning students get discouraged because fingering for the chords hurts.

“It really takes about a month or two to get your callouses where it doesn’t hurt when you play,” CES music teacher Alex Lesueur said. “A lot of the kids have a hard time doing that.”

He said Chord Buddy helps students focus on how hard to press and focus on strumming.

Lesueur said he had seen a demonstration of the Chord Buddy at an Alabama Music Educators Association conference.

“I just fell in love with it,” Lesueur said. “It’s really a good way to do it.”

He thought Chord Buddy would be a good addition to the guitar program that the school was starting.

“We have purchased 35 guitars that we will be using on and off for the rest of the year,” Lesueur said.

Each guitar will have a Chord Buddy. The device allows students to focus on rhythm and timing while building finger strength, Perry said.

As a child, Alabama native Perry decided he wanted to be a musician. A short stint in teaching guitar convinced Perry that there needed to be a simpler way to begin playing guitar.

“I said, ‘What if there was a magical device that you could put on a guitar and press one button and it would play,'” Perry said.

Years later, when trying to teach his daughter to play guitar, Perry developed a device that would press each of the strings needed for a chord.

This original design was constructed of Popsicle sticks and rubber tubing.

“It worked perfect,” Perry said.

Principal Rebecca Threlkeld was the first person to test the device during the presentation.

“We will use the guitar during the school day, but if you come to afterschool (programs), we will also be teaching guitar in afterschool,” Threlkeld told students.

Students can learn one chord at a time by removing a piece of the device.

Design for Chord Buddy began in 2007 and was first sold in October 2010. The company received a boost in sales after Perry appeared on Shark Tank in 2012.

On Shark Tank, Robert Herjavec made an offer, which Perry accepted.

“He invested a lot of money into the company,” Perry said. “Now we have come out with guitars and tuners and all kinds of things just to help you learn how to play guitar.”

Perry said that while the funding helped the company, the exposure from being on a national show helped even more.

“Our sales went crazy,” Perry said. “We sold 12,000 units in a week.”

He said being on the show is “very intimidating” because of all the cameras and other people on the set.

Three years ago, Perry turned his focus to getting guitar in school.

“Guitar is only taught in 7 percent of schools nationwide,” Perry said.

Since many music teachers do not play, Perry said his company developed a program for music teachers to learn guitar.