Out in the open, Joanna Kim’s fingers fly fast and fill the air with sweet sounds. When the 16-year-old plays the guitar, you can’t help but stop and listen.
This teen from Chantilly is among the guitar players around the world vying for the title of Acoustic Guitarist of the Year. She’s up against four others in the contest by Guitar Player Magazine.
“I don’t want to be like everybody else,” Joanna said.
It’s safe to say she isn’t.
Joanna plays her guitar with a percussive style, hitting it like a drum.
She taught herself how to play at 7 years old, picking up the basics off of YouTube.
“My mom thought the house was breaking down ‘cause I kept on hitting the guitar every day after school,” she said.
All that hitting has now paid off. The contest voting is open to the public until December 20, and Joanna is already one of five finalists.
She credits her teacher, Miroslav Loncar, with much of her success.
“Joanna is one of the most talented, if not the most talented, student I’ve ever had in my career,” Loncar said.
That talent takes hard work, which for Joanna means practicing up to 9 hours each day.
“I know that if you don’t put in the work, you can’t get there. It’s pretty much impossible,” she said. “There’s a lot of things I want to do, so I can’t just slack.”
Some of those dreams include being a professional performer and writing her own songs. If she wins the contest, the prize is a trip to New York and a recording session.
“I want to be the first one to do something new. So that’s what’s pushing me,” Joanna said.