teaching resources

New Free Resources

Hi All,

I have just added some more diagrams to my ‘Free Resources‘ page.  These are all PDF quality hand out prints and I will continue to add to them.  There are a range of things on there at the moment from Chord Charts to Guitar Diagrams.  The most recent is of a split page of Acoustic Guitar Labelled Diagram / Strings on Guitar & Electric Guitar Labelled Diagram / Strings on Guitar.  These are for students and teachers alike.  Please head over and have a look and download for your use.

Enjoy

Jo

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Categories: downloadable PDFs, Free lessons Aids, Lessons, notes on the guitar fretboard, teaching resources | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Jo Bywater Guitar Tuition Plectrums!

They’re here!  Finally after patiently waiting, my new, and first batch of custom plectrums has arrived..  Guaranteed to always have some in my pocket because they look snazzy 🙂

first batch of custom picks :)

first batch of custom picks 🙂

Categories: Business, Custom Merch, teaching resources | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Should I / my child work towards guitar grades?

To start off with this week I’d like to congratulate my student Luke on getting a Distinction in his Grade 6 RGT guitar exam.  It’s an inspiring and fantastic achievement and much hard work paid off.

Luke is 16 and he’s a great guitarist.  He plays a variety of styles of guitar and also other instruments and is hugely interested in music and playing music.  I’m a very proud guitar tutor 🙂

This brings me to the subject of my blog today…..

How important are grades for the guitarist?  Are grades essential?  And, what are my opinions on them?  

I am frequently asked these questions by my students and the parents of my students.  It is a subject not short on discussion amongst many a musician and on many a forum and it has as many varying viewpoints as people have opinions…

My story

To start off with, my story is that I passed my grade 8 guitar and my grade 5 Music Theory in college, whilst studying for a BTEC in Popular Music.  I then chose to go to University to study music. I’ve since gone into a career in music. Were grades essential for me? Yes.  They helped my theory and motivation. I felt encouraged by having certificates and benchmarks to work towards.  They contributed to me getting onto my University course.

The part to take note of is…

I didn’t ONLY do grades… the graded aspect of my guitar playing life was a very small percentage.  I was mainly out playing in bands (a lot!) and writing music, learning songs etc. The balance was very important for me and the grades complemented everything else.   I did the work but I also enjoyed playing.  That’s the thing to remember.  Work on feel and performance, play and creativity as well as theory….if that’s your thing it will all work together.

My opinion as a teacher?

As a guitar teacher my feelings have changed more than once and ultimately there is no overall fixed opinion for this subject.  Having taught many different styles/abilities/ages I can see that working through guitar grades is definitely the best choice for some and definitely not for everyone.   There are so many reasons why people enter into the world of playing guitar and it is here that will help you to decide whether working towards grades is relevant and/or useful to you or your child.

Ask yourself why you are playing guitar. 

The next step…?

What will grades offer you?

  • A recognised system of measurement for your playing.
  • A qualification regulated by Ofqual – grades contribute towards UCAS/A Level/GCSE points.
  • A structured and digestible progression. Discipline.
  •  A certificate from a recognised body – markers of achievement and deadlines for your learning.
  • Learning the theory and techniques to create an all round foundation for your playing.

If the above list appeals to you then I would encourage you to look into attaining grades a little bit further.  If it doesn’t appeal then maybe it’s not for you.  This doesn’t make you any more or less allowed to enjoy playing this awesome instrument 🙂

As a rule of thumb, if you are looking to follow the music education/career route then grades are most likely expected of you.   For children (and indeed adults!) who are motivated by achieving awards they will also be beneficial to you too.  Many people have the ability to self-discipline and can structure their own learning.  Others require help from an external source and hence look for a teacher.  This helps with focus, structure and an organised lesson with a deadline.

Each person has an individual need in this case and I would suggest if you have more questions after reading this then you should have a more detailed conversation with a professional (many professionals)…

please feel free to email me at:   jo@jobywaterguitartuition.com

Beware the myths…

Some people feel that working towards grades contributes towards making your playing ‘serious’ and ‘heavy’ or that it ‘stunts’ your creativity.  It doesn’t have to.   It is down to the person. Be a balanced player.

Have structure but ultimately remember how to play and have fun!  🙂

See you next time

Jo

RGT Grade books for Electric Guitar 

For those who would like to read further, here are links to the 2 main recognised popular guitar grading systems in the UK:

RGT

Rockschool

I teach grades where requested.  I’m happy to not teach grades. Guitar is about the individual.

Anybody who would like to add to this or comment by way of discussion please do.

Categories: Grades, Music Theory, teaching resources | 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
***
‘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
***
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

Free virtual play along Folk Sessions

A great one for this week!

It’s always good when my guitar students bring things to my attention that I was otherwise unaware of.  This time it is regarding free play along folk sessions on the BBC website.

For those of you interested in Folk music, all aspects and styles that is!   You can click the link below and choose your preferred Folk song choice (Reel, Jig etc…) and with your guitar at the ready you can then strum or pick along.

Playing along to music is one sure-fire way to improve your timing and stamina and appreciation of playing with something other than yourself.

These sessions have audio and also printable chord sheets.

Thanks to Jack for sending this our way 🙂

 

BBC Virtual Folk Sessions

 

See you next time

Jo

Categories: Free lessons Aids, teaching resources | Tags: | Leave a comment

Electric Guitar Diagram with Label Descriptions

A new week of learning as ever.

Monday’s my perfect morning to sit down at my laptop and look over how I want my guitar teaching week to begin.  This week I’ve added some descriptions to the electric guitar diagram I posted last week over at my Free Resources page.  These PDFs are nuggets of information serving use to beginners to introduce the guitar parts.   They are also very useful to those teaching who are looking for a concise reference sheet to prompt info and also to give out to their students.  If you would like any more in-depth information your choices are to 1) Message me  2) Surf the net  3) Pretend you already know everything.  I say the first two may help you find out more but 3) sometimes works!

Mainly I hope you find these as useful as I do when I’m starting to get ideas of what makes up a guitar to my students.

 

It always helps to have an idea of what comprises the tools you are using and getting to know.  For me I love knowing how things work and ultimately I feel more connected to things the more I understand them.  As a beginner it can induce a teeny bit of fear when something so simple as  a string breaks.  The concept of having to replace something you don’t understand can be a bit overwhelming.   Well…I say learn about it, let it break, learn what it does and how it works and get stuck in there…

Any questions just ask!

Happy learning folks 🙂

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Electric Guitar Diagram

Well after sitting honing my Illustrator skills I have completed my labelled diagram of an electric guitar.  After playing guitar for 20 years it never ceases to amaze me how much I learn and relearn about things I already thought I knew!

I’m primarily putting up the diagram with labels this week and shall follow with some descriptions of the labels very soon.  The PDF will be again on my Free Resources page to be downloaded and printed at your leisure.

Anatomy of the Electric Guitar diagram

What I have learned through doing this is how many different shapes and sizes and mere ideas of guitars are in existence.  It has made me wish to play every single one of them just to hear and feel the fine – tuning differences.  I only learned yesterday that Pythagoras was responsible for the way we use the divisions of notes in music today.  The physics of music seems to interest me greatly 🙂

My weapons of choice in electric guitar world are currently a Fender Thinline Tele ’72 which has a beautiful sound and my Jackson DK3 from my metal band and University days (this will never leave).  I’m now eyeing up everything..

Enjoy!

Categories: downloadable PDFs, Free lessons Aids, Music Theory, pythagoras, teaching resources, the physics of music | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Basic ‘Open Chord’ chart

This week in the world of my guitar tutoring I heard the cries for a chord summary on one sheet.  A selection of the basic open chords on a single reference sheet.  Easy to glance at and a digestible number of chords to work towards achieving.

I usually advise my beginner students to master the clean playing of these chords in order to strengthen their fingers and grasp this concept of guitar playing.  We begin to learn chords. 2, 3 or 4 at a time depending on learning pace and then we work at fitting them together and learning to move between them.   There’s usually a song or 5000 which we can learn in order to familiarise the process and have a bit of fun too between the aching fingers 🙂

Open Chords #1

The Open Chord sheet #1 is also in PDF format on my Free Resources page.   A couple of my students are left – handed and so I’ve adapted this for them in reverse format.  Anyone who is interested in this version just message me and I’ll send it on over.

Enjoy and keep strumming!

Jo

Categories: downloadable PDFs, Free lessons Aids, Music Theory, Open Chords, teaching resources | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

#2 extra

It was brought to my attention yesterday on uploading my Notes on the Guitar Neck diagram that people have different ways of viewing guitar diagrams/tabs/chords.  I had a little think and decided to offer an alternative.  This new pdf to go alongside yesterdays one shows the guitar neck from right – left. This means the open strings are on the right hand side of the page.  Yesterdays version goes left – right with the open strings shown at the left hand side of the page.

The choice is now yours!  Head to Free Resources for them in their full glory.

Jo 🙂

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard (right to left)

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard (right to left)

Categories: downloadable PDFs, Free lessons Aids, Music Theory, notes on the guitar fretboard, teaching resources | Leave a comment

#2: Notes on the Guitar Neck

Week 2!

In continuation of my downloadable and printable materials I have compiled a diagram of the guitar neck complete with the notes on all 6 six strings.

The guitar neck can be a bit intimidating at first but once you start to see the patterns you will find your way around it in no time.  To begin on your journey feel free to print off my guitar neck diagram. It shows the notes on the neck from the open strings E, A, D, G, B, E all the way up to the 15th fret.

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard (left to right)

Notes on the Guitar Fretboard (left to right)

The guitar frets/notes ascend and descend chromatically. Once you become familiar with the different frets and chords as actual notes (and not just shapes) you will open up a whole new understanding of the guitar as an instrument.

Any questions send me a message and i’ll help as much as possible.

Other than that enjoy and head over to  Free Resources to see what else you can benefit from in the world of Jo Bywater Guitar Tuition!

See you next week!

Jo

Categories: downloadable PDFs, Free lessons Aids, Music Theory, notes on the guitar fretboard, teaching resources | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

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