Advice and checklists

Guitar Student Profile #2 : Gareth

Hello and welcome to GUITAR STUDENT PROFILE #2

It’s always interesting and inspiring to read about other peoples journeys, especially in a pursuit you may be interested in yourself…..in this case learning to play guitar..

Gareth is an adult learner with a very demanding and often unruly profession.  He has a great love of music as a wind down and always puts time aside to play his guitar.  This really comes across in our guitar lessons and makes him very easy to work and chat music with!  In the time we have been having lessons together we have covered a lot of finger-picking songs such as Breathe by Pearl Jam, Who Says by John Meyer,  a few Steve Earle songs….the list goes on!  The current development is to build some Music Theory knowledge by working through some of the RGT Grade books.

Here’s what Gareth has to say about his journey and his guitar lessons……

Student:  Gareth

1) How long have you been playing the guitar?

I originally started playing the guitar at senior school learning to play the electric guitar. I passed my GCSE Music but unfortunately gave up. Fast forward 22 years and I decided to start learning again. I have been learning to play again for just over one year.

 

2) Why did you begin guitar lessons?

I began learning guitar as I have always enjoyed listening to music at home and love live music. I listen to many different genres and when I was younger I grew up listening to music my older brother liked which was predominantly rock and metal. I originally started to learn rock songs etc. More recently (as I have grown up) I enjoy a variety of music however recently enjoy music based around acoustic guitar. I would always look in the window of my local guitar shop at the acoustic guitars and one day decided I wanted to learn again. I am learning for personal enjoyment and as a hobby, I find practicing and playing a way to relax. It would be nice to reach a level whereby one day I could play fluently with confidence and possibly to play for friends or with other musicians however I am aware I’m still very much a beginner.

 

3) What do you enjoy most about lessons and playing the guitar?

I currently have one lesson weekly. I enjoy my lesson as Jo helps to tailor the lesson to suit my needs and current playing ability. In the time spent with Jo she has worked out some of my favourite songs / pieces. With practice I have managed to play some songs I would have struggled with or not even known where to start with this time last year. I particularly enjoy and started to listen to pieces using finger picking techniques, although I have only learnt basic techniques I find when playing on your own and practicing it can be rewarding as I think it produces a much more interesting sound. (When I get it right that is!) Jo is a very patient teacher and has always made lessons interesting, helping to break songs down so it’s manageable to learn and not overwhelming. I even enjoy lessons to have a chat with Jo about different types of music / artists. More recently I have decided to learn some basic theory and currently working towards Grade 1 Acoustic RGT. Again Jo is very supportive and knowledgeable and has helped to explain some basic theory aspects which I have found interesting and will hopefully help develop my overall playing and knowledge.

 

4) What do you find most challenging about the lessons and playing guitar?

I think learning any new skill can be challenging, it can be frustrating to know the sound you need to produce however learning the technique to accomplish it can be difficult. I struggle with-new chords and techniques that are unfamiliar.

 

5) Do you have any advice for people who may be thinking about having lessons and playing guitar?

As an adult beginner it can be hard to find the time to put in some serious practice with day to day life commitments, but don’t let it put you off beginning. Don’t go into it with the expectation it is easy, but at the same time it can be very rewarding even learning some basic chords and playing along to simple songs. Everybody has different learning styles / musical tastes and skill level, but personally have a think about what you are realistically looking to achieve from learning and tailor your lessons to this. Set small goals, don’t be disheartened when you listen to some of your favourite artists and instantly want to replicate the sound / song. It may sound obvious but try not to pick songs that are too advanced, I have done this but I hope to return to them in the future. You will get frustrated, I do at times, but don’t be at war with it or you won’t enjoy it. Keep your guitar out if you can, and even if you can’t find set time to practice, even just picking it up for 5-10 minutes and playing keeps you familiar with it. There is no need to buy expensive instruments to learn, pick up a decent lower end to mid-range guitar to start. Always consider a second hand guitar from a reputable shop. If it isn’t for you then you haven’t lost out a great deal on expensive instruments. I would definitely recommend Jo as a tutor if you are considering lessons as an adult or for children. Jo has always been flexible when I have had to rearrange a lesson and just one half hour lesson weekly can really help you to improve. Above all have fun with it, practice and play when time allows, stop thinking about and go do it!

Guitar Lessons Liverpool Gareth

 

Thanks Gareth!

Categories: Advice and checklists, Goals, Guitar / Theory Grades, Learning, Lessons, Music Theory, RGT, Student Profiles, students | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to teach your child guitar if you can’t play a note and have no sense of rhythm – a parents account!

I have a student aptly named Riffy, she began having lessons when she was 6 and that was going on for 2 years ago.  This is her Dad’s very well put together account of what to expect and look out for when thinking about guitar lessons for your/a child.  
I absolutely second what he’s saying as great observation and advice, enjoy this read! – Jo
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‘How to teach your child guitar if you can’t play a note and have no sense of rhythm. And even if you are musically talented I hope there’s something here for you.
My daughter, Riffy was almost 7 when she saw a pink guitar at a car boot and persuaded me to help her buy it, I added to the money she had on the condition she had lessons as I didn’t want to see it sit in a corner and gather dust. So it started, a totally random act to kick things off and then the luck of finding Jo to teach her but no real planning.
Luckily the guitar was decent, playable, the right size and would stay in tune, In retrospect saner people might have found a teacher first and asked her advice. Or checked out a decent music shop. Equally Riffy was probably just about old enough to start learning to play.
When Riffy started having regular lessons I would  put  a bit of cash into a guitar fund say between 2 and 5 pounds per lesson to start with, The fund is handy because if the lessons continue there are a few things that might come in handy. For example you can use this fund to buy spare strings, picks, a stand, their next guitar, a guitar for you…
What else to buy?
Buy a stand or possibly better yet get a wall hanger for your guitar, it’ll keep the guitar safe from being knocked over if it’s leant against a wall and handier than if it’s put safe on top of a cupboard. Once you’ve got a stand use it, there is nothing to describe the classic slow motion  fall of a guitar slipping over and heading for the floor.
Buy a load of plectrums/picks it’s good to try different ones and they tend to go missing. Most annoyingly they have a homing instinct for falling into the sound hole of an acoustic guitar, I’ll be making my fortune by inventing a device to retrieve picks from inside an acoustic.
Buy some spare strings, or expect one to break just after the shops close and slightly before the next lesson. Also get a string winder because the number of turns required on the tuners quickly gets boring. Check Youtube or guitar books for how to restring a guitar
Get a cheap digital tuner or an app for your phone and use it to check your tuning. Practise tuning by ear and ask your child if the guitar sounds in tune when they start to practice.
A metronome  is another very, very useful thing. You can get one as an app for your phone, alternatively there are electronic and old fashioned mechanical versions. It’s worth finding what works for your child, Riffy for example likes Jo’s metronome because it has a nice visible flashing light on it..
What most of this stuff is for is to make it easy to practice. lf the guitar is tuned, and ready, close to hand your child just can pick the guitar up and start playing. This means you can get in a quick 5 or 10 minute practice with no fuss and no wasted time.
Practise a little and often, any practice is better than no practice and frequent practice keeps things fresh in the mind. After a lesson as you’re unpacking get your child to quickly run through what they’ve just done.
Sit in with your child when they practise, don’t expect them to motivate themselves. Expect them to get things wrong and don’t jump in with criticism. Ask if they can hear something wrong if they keep repeating the same mistake, but mostly just encourage them when it sounds good.
Turn practice into a game, make it fun, if you can play, play along with them, if you can’t get them to teach you what they’ve learnt.
Use bribery, I treated Riffy like a busker one time dropping 10p’s in her piggy bank every time she repeated an exercise.
Video them practising, get them to show off for the camera, don’t worry about quality, or worry about complex camera set ups, I just use my phone cam, if you do get a good result and your kids happy show it off to friends and relatives, let them get some positive feedback.
Build practice in as part of the routine, I chose bedtime as I already used that for reading practice and my daughter was getting older so instead of staying up later I just added an extra activity. If practice is part of  a routine it reduces arguments and resistance.
Learn to play yourself, share the experience then you’ll realise it isn’t quite as easy as it looks, and you might have a lot of fun.’
– by Chris Orton
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Chris takes a great interest in the lessons and the process of learning guitar, often having lessons to feed his interest and stay on top of the game! 
I teach all guitar to all ages so if you have a child who you may think of sending to guitar lessons, feel free to message me with any questions.
pink guitar
Categories: Advice and checklists, children's lessons, parent accounts, teaching resources | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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