Making music is second nature to Gaven Largent, 13. "When I'm playing, that stuff is just coming into my brain," he says. "Everything I play is coming through my brain and into my hands."
"When Gaven was about two years old, 'guitar' was one of his first words," his mother Melissa says. When he was eight, he asked for a guitar of his own, but she says teachers told him he was too young to play, because his hands weren't big enough. "And Gaven persisted, 'I just want a guitar, please.' So we bought a guitar and sought him a teacher."
Gaven soaked up everything he could from that teacher and a second, and then decided he didn't want to take any more lessons. "I was like, look, I'm not learning anything; it's boring."
Mastering multiple instruments
He also decided to take on a new instrument, the Dobro, or resonator guitar. "I'd been playing [guitar] about two or three years, and all I wanted was a Dobro." He even tried converting his first guitar into a resonator guitar, without any success.
The Dobro is played in a horizontal position: one hand sliding a steel bar against the frets, the other hand picking the strings. The sound is similar to that of a Hawaiian, or pedal steel guitar.
Gaven didn't stop with the Dobro. "After I had been playing the Dobro for about two or three years, then I got the banjo," he says. "Once you master one [instrument], it channels into another one, which channels into another one."
Gaven also plays the mandolin, but the Dobro remains his instrument of choice. Last year, at the age of 12, he competed against adults and won the gold medal for Dobro at the prestigious Old Fiddler's Convention in Galax, Virginia.
As for the future, Gaven says he's trying to develop his own style, "not just copy what other people have done." And he's working on composing. "I haven't written too many songs with lyrics, but that's something I'd like to work on."
Making music with others
Gaven plays a lot with his grandfather, Max Largent, and with other bluegrass musicians in and around his hometown of Winchester, Virginia.
"If you are playing with other musicians, you are blending your two styles together, making them fit in a new way and you're coming up with new things together. It's really something special."
On July 9th, he'll take the stage in Nashville, alongside bluegrass legends Rhonda Vincent, Bobby Osborne, and others at the legendary Ryman Auditorium.