Professional musicians structure their practice to make the most of their time. They often have many projects going on at once and have to prepare for various rehearsals and performances at the same time. When they sit down to practice, they know exactly what they need to accomplish, how they will accomplish it, and how long they will need to spend on each task. Productive practice comes in four categories: technique, new material, repertoire, and musicianship. A balanced practice routine should include attention to each of these areas – not necessarily every day, but at least a few times a week. Structure your practice according to these guidelines to make the most out of your time! Continue to full article here.
It's fairly common that young beginners are genuinely excited about the guitar but easily forget about (or even avoid) practicing between lessons. Guitar comes with a steep learning curve, and the very beginning is one of the trickiest stages. The student has to learn basic movements with very specific rules (i.e., rounded fingers, on their tips, pushing hard with the thumb helping out) in order to make anything sound decent. Once students learn the notes in open position and a handful of chords, they are in great shape to play many of their favorite songs. They just need some help to arrive at that point. Here are some tips on how to keep your child's guitar in their hands for years to come. Continue to full article here.
Do you have a young child who just can't wait to start online guitar lessons this fall? Students age five to seven need more parental involvement than most, especially at the beginning. Learn these fundamentals of guitar lessons for children so that you can help your child start off right. Continue to full article here.
I write articles on various music education topics such as guitar lessons for children, learning guitar as an adult, getting kids to practice, warm-up advice for classical guitarists, and the origins of our tonal system. Check out the ones that interest you!
Part 1 – For Parents of Young Guitarists (ages five to nine)
Does your child light up when they hear their favorite song or see a new music video? Do they love their guitar lessons and possess some degree of natural aptitude for music? Is your child already talking about a career in music? While young children are subject to fleeting career ambitions, if they're excited about music now, you'll surely want to encourage their passion. You'll also want to give them the tools necessary for success later on, should their musical ambitions grow with them. Here are some ways you can help fuel your young guitarist's enthusiasm and prepare them for success down the road.
You can break down the mechanics of classical guitar playing into three fundamental techniques: slurs, arpeggios, and scales. Spending time improving each of these mechanisms will make playing a lot easier and improve your sound. If you don't already have a routine of technical studies, this series is a great place to start. I will address three fundamental guitar techniques: slurs (also called hammer-ons and pull-offs), scales, and arpeggios. I will include examples at a variety of levels, so choose the ones that best suit your ability. You can learn the exercises from the video, TAB, or notation provided in the article.
Young guitarists love writing songs! As with any creative task, the hardest part is getting started, so here are some ideas to inspire budding composers. These composition prompts can be adapted for children of all ages. Depending on the level of the student, the composition can be just a single short melody or a fully developed piece with several structural parts and multiple voices. Continue to full article here.
“An amateur practices until he gets it right; a professional practices until he can’t get it wrong” Perfecting a piece of music requires more effort and attention than you might think! To perform a piece reliably, you need to understand it using several complementary kinds of musical memory: aural memory, muscle memory, and conceptual memory. In the polishing stage, focus on strengthening each of these memory areas and on bringing difficult passages up to performance standards. Continue to full article here.
One of my guitar students recently asked me if musical tones vary as much as the color palette does among cultures and languages. For example, all languages have words for the fundamental colors such as black, white, red, yellow, blue, and green; but vocabulary for more complex variations varies greatly. Some languages do not have words for colors like purple, pink, orange, or brown. Other languages have specific words for colors that we English-speakers would consider subtle variations. In Russian, the colors light blue and dark blue have completely distinct and unrelated words. Continue to full article here.
When to Embrace Written Music and When to Get Away from the Page
If you're wondering whether reading music is important to your (or your child's) guitar education, you'll quickly discover conflicting philosophies. A classical guitarist may tell you that reading music is essential to understanding the guitar and communicating with other musicians. A rock, blues, or folk guitarist may tell you that reading music is an unnecessary burden that distracts from musical expression. They may even cite you a list of famous guitarists who can't read a note. Whether or not a student should make reading music part of their education depends on....Continue to full article here.
I have been teaching guitar for almost ten years and have plenty of success with adult beginners (thirties through retirement). Don't worry! Contrary to popular myth, you do not have to start playing as a child to become an excellent musician and to really enjoy your instrument. If you are starting later in life, some things – learning new patterns of thought and movement – may be more challenging. But other things, especially the discipline and self-awareness that comes with being older, will work to your advantage. Continue to full article here.