Ben Howington from Raleigh, North Carolina, refers to himself as a “branding, marketing, and creative design nut.” He says, “I play guitar by night and do web design, branding, and PR by day.” He loves simple messages, clean designs, and Martin guitars. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is married and has four children.
He is also known as “Guitar Dad” with his YouTube postings of hymn arrangements and his guitar tutorials on his website. In December 2013, his production of “Families Can Be Together Forever” gained more views than normal because he expressed his gratitude for the life of his daughter who was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was three-and-one-half months old and was celebrating being in remission for five years. The doctors had told the family that if cancer went into remission for five years, it would probably not return.
Ben learned to play the guitar in the early 90’s when he was a teenager. The internet was not available at that time for him to search for stuff after school, so he would lock himself in his bedroom for hours everyday teaching himself to play the guitar.
He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYU-Idaho). He is a manager of corporate communications. He was a senior account manager for a New York company when his daughter Lila was diagnosed on a trip to visit family in North Carolina. After the diagnosis, he moved his wife, Annie, and their children to be closer to family and to have their daughter treated at Duke University Medical Center, one of the best in the country for pediatric brain cancer and stem cell transplant. Lila underwent chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant before the age of one. Four months after the tumor was removed, it grew back and the treatment process had to begin again. Cancer has not returned in five years.
Ben commented, “We feel blessed because it doesn’t always have the same outcome for everyone, but that doesn’t change the way we felt the Lord’s hand in everything. We never felt like she was going to leave us, and I know that’s because of the eternal nature of families because we’re an eternal family.”
MormonGuitar.com is his project to write original arrangements of his kid’s favorite hymns and primary music each month. He admits that it also gives him an excuse to play the guitar more often. At the start of each month, his children pick a song from the LDS hymn book. Sometimes he picks songs suggested by his website audience. He says that by not picking the songs himself, it makes it a lot easier to analyze each one, looking for some hidden meaning or insight.
The goal of Mormon Guitar is to not only play the arrangements of hymns that he creates but also teach others how to play them. He arranges the hymn, transcribes it, video himself playing it, video himself teaching others how to play it, and creates an interactive tab that allows a person to practice the song at their own pace. New arrangements are posted on the first day of each month and everything on the site is free. He further comments, “I thought, there is so much crap out there on the Internet that I wanted to do something to try and offset that, and I thought what better way to do that than the hymns.”
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