Insider on Brookfield Central’s own troubadour: Robert Purnell

Q: Why the guitar? What’s special about it to you? Why do you play this instrument?

A: I’ve been playing guitar since I was a little kid, but it turned into my passion since I moved to Virginia in 8th grade. For three years, I sang and played guitar with my worship team in, and it was a real life changer for me. The guitar can make both calming and epic music, and I love to teach myself new techniques and songs to play. I play because…well, actually, I don’t really give it a second thought. I used to play for the sheer fun of it; incorporating music into an activity as boring as walking to my next class was quickly turned into a quick jam session before each block. Now however, I also feel called to do what I do because of all the good it’s done to me and the people around me. You know how in happy movies there’s the happy music to complete the look? That’s how I feel.

Q: What does music mean to you? How does it impact you?

A: Music to me is a way to express my feelings, and a way to be a light at the school. I would not be the same person I am today without music. It’s true that academics and such are important, but I think that out of everything, I’ll remember and always have music with me in the later stages of my life, and that’s a great mindset to have with anything.

Q: Most people use earphones for music during the day; why don’t you?

A: I use earphones when listening to music in class, but the resonance from a guitar is so much more calming and real to me than the technology; I feel more in the moment when I play, and that’s a feeling that everyone should have during the day.

Q: Do you think you stand out from others in terms of your guitar playing during school?

A: It is different indeed. I’m not really the one to be ashamed of who I am. I’m filled with a love and happiness during the day, and I know that everyone deserves that. I know that it’s very different and a little weird maybe to play my guitar in the hallways at school, but from my experience of doing it since school started, I’ve made people smile and laugh a little more, entertained passerbys with a sick chord progression, and even struck up conversations with people I don’t usually talk to on a daily basis, and it’s an amazing thing to be able to do all that and still have fun jamming out.

Q: What are your favorite songs and chords to play?

A: Oh man, that’s a tough one. I’d have to go with the chord progression for Canon, Oceans by Hillsong, Sweet Home Alabama, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, Eye of the Tiger, and many more songs with the standard G-D-Em-C chord progression.

Q: Do you have any other advice or additional comments?
A: Don’t be ashamed if you have a hobby that you think will be shunned like knowing magic tricks or playing an instrument in the hallway quick before class, because in reality, what you do can be a great conversation starter and can lead to friends that you never thought you’d come by through what you do. Everyone is unique in their own way, and a pretty unrealistic goal that I have is to get to know everyone in the world. I’ll probably never get that far, but I’ll still try, and you should to. You are not alone.