Vocalist-guitarist, teacher, and arts inclusion activist Sarah Fard (of Savoir Faire) is challenging musician stereotypes one event at a time. Fard will be hosting A Guitarist Is on May 12th at The Burren in Somerville, MA. The event aims to recognize diversity in the music industry while showing an audience who and what a guitarist can be.
Being a music educator, Fard also identifies as an advocate for arts inclusion. Her job as a teacher helps her share her message of music inclusivity. She strives to challenge what the media typically focus on in the music industry through exposing her students to diverse music examples, knowing there are more musicians and genres out there then the media addresses.
“Mainstream media tends to rely on the same types of examples of musicians, and music education has historically focused on the same types of music,” Fard said. “The more we diversify that, the more people we reach. Music is a very personal thing- it’s close to many people’s hearts in many different ways. We cannot- should not- promote the idea that only certain types of people belong in certain types of music, or with certain instruments.”
Fard does more than teach her students about diverse musicians and music: She also works with the Berklee Institute for Arts Education and with private lessons and public school teachers, making sure to include all students in music. After seeing the prevalence of ableism in the music industry, Fard took courses and educated herself on the topic so she that could help Berklee with their approach towards musicians with disabilities.
Being a teacher and advocate for arts inclusion, Fard uses her voice to spread the idea of inclusion in the arts. She wants to ensure that all of her students feel included and know they can be a guitarist no matter their gender, racial background, or approach to guitar.
“When it comes to social media, I find that it is more productive to try and be a positive force by sharing diverse examples. People are hiding behind their virtual selves online, and they aren’t necessarily going to engage with someone if they say ‘Hey, your examples of guitarists only includes white men,’ or ‘This post is actually mocking people that need tools to make guitar
playing accessible to them. It doesn’t make a worse guitar player!’” One thing Fard did to combat the lack of inclusivity in the arts is create A Guitarist Is.
Fard came up with the idea for this event through several small events. First, she read an article titled “The Death of the Electric Guitar,” where author Geoff Edgers argues that guitar heroes are a thing of the past. Fard disputes this, saying that there are guitarists out there, but the media just doesn’t want to focus on them.
What came next was a simple Google search. After googling “guitarist”, Fard found that she only came across white male guitarists who made a name for themselves during the classic rock era. From here, Fard was inspired. She wanted to find a way to make a difference, “no matter how small the effort.”
All Fard wants is for her event to educate a general audience about the lack of inclusivity in the realm of guitarists. As a woman with her own experiences in the music industry, Fard wants to share her experience with an audience.
“I want to normalize diversity in the idea of what a guitar player is,” Fard said. “It’s 2019 and I am still seeing images in the media that say only certain people can be revered guitarists. One of the ways to change that is to make sure that the examples we want in the media are in the music venues. When I was in high school, I found that my band ended up on a lot of lineups based on our gender, not on our music. Venues simply put us on a bill because we were a ‘girl band.’ Performers shouldn’t find themselves on bills because it’s a novelty thing.”
A Guitarist Is will also be a fundraiser for Girls Rock Camp, a non-profit, volunteer-run organization started by Hilken Mancini, of Fuzzy, The Monsieurs, and other awesome projects.
“The organization strives to foster musical skills in young girls (and women- they have Ladies Rock Camp, too) and build self esteem in its participants via music making,” Fard said. “It is a non profit, is volunteer run, and is a force in creating gender equality in the music scene. Girls Rock Camp supports our future musicians and arms them with confidence!”
The event will feature Tory Silver, Paul Yu, Andrew Aghababian of Unnamed Colors, Josie Lowder, and Meaghan Casey, all guitarists in the Boston community. Each artists brings their own personality and style, highlighting Bossa Nova, blues, folk, art rock, funk, jazz, and punk.
“I suppose the theme here is that the line up is a wide range of styles, and within each guitarists’ music lies a wide range of styles, and within each guitarist’s music lies a wide range of genres in and of itself,” Fard said. “This show is simply meant to say, ‘Hey, we are all really great guitar players, and that title doesn’t belong to one identity.”