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Teen Guitar Hero Wins Contest

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jason Allen
Jason came to North Texas after working as a reporter for four y...
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DALLAS (CBS 11) - Like any other kid in a middle school music program, Justin Weed heads off to practice after school. He plays guitar, not a surprising choice for a 13-year-old. What’s surprising, is what the guitar sounds like when Justin plays.

With eyes closed, head nodding, fingers flying over the frets, Justin Weed runs through guitar solos like a rock stage veteran. He’s been playing 4 years.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” he said during a practice session Monday. “It’s just this feeling. It’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever felt. You feel the music. You feel like you’re a part of it. It’s like being on top of the world. That’s what music is for me, basically.”

This month, Justin became the youngest winner ever of the Dallas International Guitar Festival’s contest for the best guitarists under 20 years old. Going up against older teens with years of stage experience, Justin entered with a video he recorded in his bedroom. (Watch his entry video here.) For the actual contest appearance, he put a band together three days before the show. They practiced once. He thought maybe he could place in the top 3.

“I was definitely not the best guitar player there,” he said humbly. “There were so many people who were just amazing players, and who had great songs, and great skills. I did not think I was on their level.”

Justin first picked up a guitar when he was nine. His dad kept one around to play camp songs and strum, but nothing more. After his first four lessons, his dad couldn’t keep up anymore.

He plays in the jazz band at school, has advanced to the upright bass, and works on classical guitar with instructor Tim Courtney. He teaches him better hand positioning, and foundational music theory.

“If you don’t really learn great technique you’re setting yourself up for maybe not failure but for limitation,” Courtney says. Some of the things Justin does with a guitar though, Courtney admits, are not things you can teach.

At 13, he has a lot of time to think about it, but Justin hasn’t always been sure music is the right career path.

“Musicians aren’t the most successful people in the world,” he said.

That’s changed with his win. Teaching, playing, even the dream of a stage show in front of thousands, are all possible now he believes.

“This is the start of something I hope will be big, or influential, or something of that nature. This is just, this is my start, and if this is what I’m achieving now, who knows what I could be doing in a few years.”

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