In sixth grade, Quinton Richardson played a guitar solo that would alter the course of his life…
Quinton Richardson, now a senior at C.E. Byrd High School in Shreveport, Louisiana experienced a profound connection with music in sixth grade when he entered the Little Kids Rock program at Herndon Magnet Middle School. Though he had minimal musical education at this point in his schooling, Little Kids Rock’s unique and engaging curriculum drove him to dive deeper into the world of music.
His Little Kids Rock teacher, Toby Quarles, noticed instant gratification and self-development in his student as he became more immersed in music. “Quinton was always a very well-behaved student, always highly-engaged, self-motivated, learned material beyond what most students were studying, so he was considered above average,” says Mr. Quarles. “He would look for sources and material that were beyond what I provided.”
While Richardson honed his skills on the guitar, he learned about the many opportunities available to students outside of the classroom, such as songwriting competitions and weekly contests that Little Kids Rock offered to keep things fresh for students and teachers.
Randy Rhoads, the famed heavy metal guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot before dying in a plane crash, was known for playing his signature Jackson Flying V electric guitar. “Future Randys” – an initiative of the RR Network in memory of Randy Rhoads – donated a Flying V to be gifted to a Little Kids Rock student who participated in one of the weekly contests hosted on its website. The contest was to play the sickest, most wicked, most rockin’ Rhandy Rhoads solo possible!
Once Mr. Quarles mentioned that there was a Jackson Flying V up for grabs, Richardson, skeptical at first, decided it was worth a shot. Richardson practiced the famous Randy Rhoads solo in “Crazy Train” on his own, until he was ready to record the video that would win him the prized Flying V.
Mr. Quarles utilized Little Kids Rock’s methodology and donated instruments to equip Richardson with the tools he needed to further explore his musical talents on his own.
Randy Rhoads’ musical upbringing is similar to that of Richardson, in that his music teacher, Scott Shelly, mentioned his inability to teach the legendary rock star because Rhoads’ knowledge of the guitar eventually exceeded that of his own.
Since winning the guitar, Richardson has developed the confidence to compete in several music contests, including a live, onstage performance with Shreveport guitar legend James Burton at a local guitar festival.
Though Richardson proactively sought out these life-changing opportunities, he credits “the guidance that Little Kids Rock provided, which gave him the chance to actually learn about music, the in-depth parts of music and understand what he was actually doing on the guitar when he mastered the lessons.”
Not only did Richardson’s musical skills develop, but so did his personality. Once shy and closed-off, this guitarist has turned into a rock star with a hunger for competition.
Richardson, who now plays in a jazz band, plans to teach new and upcoming band guitarists the secrets behind his transition from rock to jazz. Looking forward, he would like to keep music a part of his life by taking music courses throughout college.
Rhoads and Richardson never met, and though Richardson’s musical taste is moving further from the heavy metal solo that won him his first guitar, he and Rhoads are forever connected by one thing – a passion for music that drove them both to hone their skills and become rock stars, on stage and off.