But it wasn't until fifth grade that the Kamas-based singer and songwriter decided that it was cool to play music.
"Although I had developed an ear for music because of my dad and his family, I wasn't into playing that much," Gautney confessed to The Park Record. "He bought me a guitar when I was six, but I didn't do much with it until I had a teacher at South Summit who brought his guitar to school."
Gautney remembered how cool that was and, the next summer, she began to play.
"My goal at first was just to have fun," she said. "I didn't like doing sports, so music was something I really could do."
When the new school year started, the administration and her teachers asked Gautney to perform some recitals.
"After that, it all became about playing and sharing my music with people," she said.
After she graduated from high school, Gautney kept performing.
"That was when I realized this is what I wanted to do," she said. "I want to tour the country playing music."
To accomplish that feat, Gautney knew she would need to find her own style and voice.
"I didn't want to sound like anyone else, because I didn't want people to say I sounded like this artist or that artist. I didn't want to become a cliché, so I worked on a lot of things with my playing and songwriting," she said.
Her first songs, Gautney said, were terrible.
"I started writing my own songs when I was 13 and they weren't good," she said with a laugh. "In fact, they sucked. But I made myself write a song a day because I thought if I did that, then pretty soon the songwriting would improve. I knew that the songs would turn out better because if I kept at it, I would learn how to word things differently."
These days Gautney writes songs about things that "happen in the moment."
"I get so many little ideas about certain events that are part of my life. So I go off of that and try to tell stories, like how Bob Dylan does," she said.
"I really don't like silly songs that don't say anything," she said.
Although she still plays covers every now and then, Gautney said it means more to her when she plays her own compositions.
"It gets to the point when you find yourself playing someone else's songs and wondering if the lyrics mean anything to you," she said. "I always think if you don't feel it, it's not real."
"I like it when I play an original song and someone will ask who wrote it," Gautney said. "That's a huge compliment because people have taken notice and the song has touched them in a way."
Being an upcoming independent musician has its own set of challenges, Gautney said.
"First and foremost is getting out there and getting noticed," she said. "Much of what I've done with my music has all been done without any help."
Those things include developing her own website, www.jenniegautney.com , booking her own gigs and toting around and setting up her own equipment.
"Seriously, I wear every hat when it comes to my music from roadie to performer to the artist to the manager," she said with a laugh.
Still, doing things on her own gives her a lot of satisfaction.
"I mean, the other day I was able to design and develop my first website," Gautney said. "That was great because I was able to put in a lot of creativity into something that doesn't rely on playing the guitar.
"It took a couple of hours, but after I finished, I really knew that it was something that I can be proud of," she said. "I put all my own ideas into it and no one told me how."
Still, Gautney knows that she has a long road in front of her.
"I met the band Slightly Stoopid and the drummer (Ryan "Rymo" Moran) gave me suggestions about how to develop as an artist, which was very cool to me," Gautney said. "He told me to start out small in the community and then slowly make the circle bigger by playing in areas in the region.
"I know it will take 10 to 15 years to get to where I want to get to, but in the end, it will be worth it," she said.
So far, Gautney has played at the Blind Dog and at Cisero's — in the nightclub and the restaurant — and has played at the Vertical Diner in Salt Lake City.
She also helped develop an open-microphone session that will be held every Friday at Atticus Coffee Books and Teahouse, 738 Main St., with storeowner Ericah Winzeler.
"The sessions will run from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.," said Gautney, who used to work at the bookstore. "The artists can come in around 1:30 p.m. and sign on a first-come-first-served basis.
"When the sessions start, the musicians can play a couple of songs," she said. "We encourage younger musicians to come and perform because we want to help them start building their own networks."