“To thine own self be true”

Khan finding unmatched feeling in guitar, music


Anjali Krishna

Coppell High School senior Nehal Khan began playing guitar five years ago. Influenced by several genres of music, Khan focuses on combining softer lyrics with his interest in heavy metal and rock.

Anjali Krishna, Executive Editor-in-Chief

For Coppell High School senior Nehal Khan, life, or music, which are synonymous to him, began in his dad’s BMW to the soundtrack of Dokken, a-ha, Madonna and the Pet Shop Boys.

As 1980s pop cemented itself in his mind at age 4, Khan discovered his first musical love in songwriting. Although Khan can pinpoint a million other times when his musical tastes changed and grew more important to him, this instance planted the seed that allowed his songwriting to grow into what it is now.

“Poetry, lyrics, I’ve always been into that even since I was a little bitty boy,” Khan said. “I was super into words. I’ve always been good at English [in school], and they make you write all those reflections and essays. I just did that in my own time anyways. That’s what started it, before I was into guitars or singing or anything like that. I wrote lyrics and I got so good at it that it’s natural to me.”

Khan, now lyrically influenced by 1990s hip hop, with his favorites being the classics (NWA, Eminem, Nas) soon combined his songwriting with his current focus: playing the guitar. 

But at first, Khan wanted to play the drums.

“I just thought hitting stuff was cool,” Khan said. “I wasn’t super interested in the music I am interested in now; it wasn’t really guitar music. But I ended up playing Guitar Hero at some guy’s house and I was like ‘I suck at this but what if I played real guitar?’ I thought about it and was like, ‘I’ll do it, why not?’”

As Khan branched out to heavy metal and rock music, guitar became the perfect outlet. Starting with acoustic, as most beginners do, he soon graduated to playing electric guitar.

“Nowadays, if you play a video game, it takes 30 minutes, then you’ll get it,” Khan said. “But with guitar, I’m slaving away and I’m getting nowhere and you get so angry at it but eventually, when you get it, it feels so good. The feeling of actually learning something on the guitar and playing it with the song, or playing a lick that you’ve been working on for hours and hours and doing it perfectly or as cleanly as you can is unmatched by anything I’ve ever felt.”

Though the drums are still something Khan hopes to pursue, he is currently focused on different musical avenues: singing, playing piano and finding a band to play the thrash metal he writes. 

Coppell High School senior Nehal Khan began playing guitar five years ago. Influenced by several genres of music, Khan focuses on combining softer lyrics with his interest in heavy metal and rock.

“I spend my time writing music,” Khan said. “Mainly, it’s just what I go through on a daily basis. I try to find a way to mix softer, more emotional things into the stuff I like. But any subject you give me, I could write you a song, right then and there. All I have to do is put a chord progression and melody to it and you have a fully written song.’”

As part of the technical theater program at CHS, which is currently in the process of getting a new sound system, Khan hopes to learn mixing and production, which he feels will serve as  “mixing 101.”

“The music I listened to as a teenager is the music he listens to, so he and I have a lot of similar musical tastes,” CHS content mastery teacher Linda Jurca said. “Some of his [songs] are a little more hard metal than mine, but we know a lot of the same artists. He’s very dedicated to his music and playing guitar – he loves to learn more about it.”

The dream for Khan is simple: be a modern rockstar, selling out arenas. But realistically, being a music therapist, helping people with what he loves in the day, and playing in a band on the side would satiate his musical desires. Khan met CHS English teacher Matt Bowden in his creative writing class, and they connected over heavy metal and skate punk music, as well as a shared love for the language.

“[Khan] is brimming with personality,” Bowden said. “You never have to wonder what [Khan] is thinking. He’s so obvious and outward and outspoken about what he’s thinking but I appreciate that he is unabashedly himself and unique in that way. He doesn’t care what anyone around him thinks. He is himself and he reminds me a lot of a quote from Hamlet: ‘To thine own self be true.’”

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