Humans of Chantilly: Joanna Kim

Finn Geary, Staff Writer

Sophomore Joanna Kim is a 16-year old, and was a finalist in the competition for the Guitarist of the Year 2020, a worldwide competition sponsored by PRS Guitars.


How long have you played the guitar? Did you always play it in a classical style or did you switch over to it at some point?

 “I started playing the acoustic guitar when I was 7 years old after watching YouTube videos of fingerstyle (technique of playing the guitar by plucking the strings directly with the fingertips) guitarists. I taught myself the basics and simple songs online. At that point it was just a hobby and I wasn’t taking it too seriously. When I was about 14 years old, I met my classical guitar teacher, Dr. Miroslav Loncar. In 2019, I discovered percussive fingerstyle, the style I played for this competition, when competing at another competition. Ever since then, I have been learning classical guitar privately and doing percussive acoustic fingerstyle on my own.”


What was your initial inspiration for learning classical guitar? Where did your interest in it come from?

Honestly, at first I was not interested in classical music at all and just started because my teacher is a classical guitarist. But as I kept playing classical pieces and exposing myself to the classical world, I really started to understand why people love this kind of music and how important it is to have knowledge of classical music to become a musician. Now, I have decided to never put down classical guitar and my goal is to be able to perform both acoustic and classical in my future concerts (which I have not seen anybody do so far).”


What part of classical guitar is the most appealing to you?

For me, the most appealing part of classical guitar is that you can express so much feeling into your music and really connect with your audience emotionally. It has elements of music that no other style can follow. Something like “shredding” or “noodling super fast” on an electric guitar is cool and all, but personally I don’t think this shows any musicality or technicality. Classical guitar has its own charm and it is truly truly magical. 


How did you feel when you saw you were doing well in the competition?
When I found out I made it to the finals, I was ecstatic! Especially because I entered into both the young guitarist category and the acoustic guitarist category(the category for adults). To be a finalist in the adult category, competing against some of the best, is something I am very grateful for. I also felt so proud of myself that I was being compared to famous professional guitarists from all over the world! This is a huge opportunity for me so I look forward to what is to come out of this.”


What is the most important lesson you learned from your teacher about classical guitar?

“The most important lesson I learned through my guitar journey is that there will be many times where something out of your control happens that results in an upsetting performance or concert. I have learned that you shouldn’t think about these unfortunate events for a long time and should just move on because the more you think about it, the more worried and nervous you will get everytime you go on stage which limits you from playing your best.”


Do you plan on utilizing this skill in a future career someday? If so, what is it?

“Yes! My dream is to become a musician that is the first one to do something new. I have a lot of plans for the future but for now, I am keeping it a secret. I hope to bring unique styles and genres to my audiences.”


What’s the next step for you?

“The next step for me is to find my own style and work on making originals, recording professionally, and exposing myself to all genres of music with an open mind.”