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  1. #1

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    Hey guys!

    I've been teaching a little while, and up until pretty recently my students were all teens/young adults. I now have a bunch of 7 year old students and I'm a little stuck as to the best approach to teaching them.

    Do any of you guys have young students? What do you teach them, and how do you keep them enthusiastic and stop them getting distracted too quickly?

    Thanks for reading,

    All the best!
    If you hit a wrong note, make it right by what you play afterwards - Joe Pass

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Stickers!

  4. #3

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    I always tried to give them enough to feel like they have some kind of success to build on. It seemed to keep them going if they felt like they could play a song... a couple of chords, build the melody over and so on. I found out real quickly that giving them the "here's a note, play that as whole notes... now as halves... now as quarters..." just took the joy right out of it for younger students. Kids do like stories, and they seem to love to hear about the troubles/difficulties you the teacher had when you were younger- If they REALLY want to learn, they will grow to love to do the real work as time goes on...

  5. #4

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    A 7 year old will have a really hard time playing guitar. Their fingers are weak and the pads on their fingers will get sore with too much playing. Go slow. Teach simple chords and don't expect fast progress. If it is a group lesson, have some percussion instruments for them to play along with too. Also, include singing along as part of the lesson.

  6. #5

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    There is never one formula that will work for all students. Every child learns differently and at a different speed. I'll try just about anything to get them playing some form of music. One finger chords seem to work with most. Usually I'll give them simple tasks like strum the chord on 1, or 1 & 3, and only later after they gotten the hang of it will explain that they were playing whole notes and half notes. Once they can keep a solid rhythm on one chord going, I'll improvise a melody and we create a song together, the kids usually like that, & the parents love it. Often we're doing this at the end of the first lesson, and that gives them real satisfaction to know that after one lesson they were able to play real music. I have also used simple tabbed out melodies and that can work great. The only problem with TAB is that when you introduce standard notation they can get confused between the two and think the staff lines are guitar strings...so it's important to explain each very clearly and make sure they know they are two totally different systems. When it comes to method books age 7 is right on the borderline between being ready for a book like Hal Leonard Guitar Method 1, and a book designed for younger children. I usually wait a month or two before even having them get a book so I can work on basic skills with them like simple chord forms, simple rhythms, tuning the guitar, finding notes on the neck etc...By then it's usually obvious what book is the best fit for them. I've used this book with students as young as 4:

    http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-Gu...s=young+guitar

    And I have a 7 year old right now that after a month and a half of working with him I've realized he is not ready for the Hal Leonard book, so I am going to use this one to get him started. It should be a very easy book for him and it will act as a primer for the Hal Leonard book.

  7. #6

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    With my own children and grandchildren I started those who showed interest to play nylon strung guitars.As for tender young fingers steel is too brutal and off puttingly painful.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ColinO View Post
    A 7 year old will have a really hard time playing guitar. Their fingers are weak and the pads on their fingers will get sore with too much playing. Go slow. Teach simple chords and don't expect fast progress. If it is a group lesson, have some percussion instruments for them to play along with too. Also, include singing along as part of the lesson.
    I'd go even farther and say that you should start kids this young (and really, a lot of adult beginners for that matter) by teaching them bass lines on the 6th string. This'll get them playing a real song much sooner than if you try teaching them chords first, and really, chords are tough enough for kids this young that many will find them impossible.

    Here's a blog article I wrote on the subject:
    http://www.heartwoodguitar.com/blog/...ongs-for-kids/

    And here's an example of one of my 5-year-old students singing "Folsom Prison Blues" accompanied by a bass line on the 6th string. Came out pretty good, I thought.


  9. #8

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    I get them started on single string/single notes first...

    Along with mechanisms to get the fingers stronger...

    Then the easy chords..Em..Am..E..etc....then chords using the top 4 strings only...like G...G on the first string,third fret,and open B,G & D...

    Easy songs that may learn in school also...getting them to play the melody using standard notation...I have always used Mel Bay to start..but their are many books for children today and if they bring one to the first lesson that is what we will use...

    The youngest was a 6 yr old boy (violin)...he did not want to play the violin,his mother wanted him to play...

    The oldest was a 75 yr old man...all classic country stuff...Cash...Owens...Williams...Haggard...Snow.. .etc...he did rather well till he lost his sight...still plays I hear...

    time on the instrument...

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by srmaximo View Post
    I'd go even farther and say that you should start kids this young (and really, a lot of adult beginners for that matter) by teaching them bass lines on the 6th string. This'll get them playing a real song much sooner than if you try teaching them chords first, and really, chords are tough enough for kids this young that many will find them impossible.

    Here's a blog article I wrote on the subject:
    http://www.heartwoodguitar.com/blog/...ongs-for-kids/

    And here's an example of one of my 5-year-old students singing "Folsom Prison Blues" accompanied by a bass line on the 6th string. Came out pretty good, I thought.

    In my entire life of 48 years I have never seen anything cuter than that. Well done.

  11. #10

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    Cute, but I can see parents not thrilled by the sight of their child singing "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die."

  12. #11

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    ^^^^
    That was the best part. I laughed all three times I watched that.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    Cute, but I can see parents not thrilled by the sight of their child singing "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die."
    Glad you guys enjoyed the song. And don't worry--his parents are big fans of his musical tastes, and they're pretty sure he's never been to Weno.

  14. #13

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    You guys are the best! Thanks for all your help. I was teaching a 7 year old how to play Black Sabbath and he asked "How many days will it take before I'm a rockstar?"
    If you hit a wrong note, make it right by what you play afterwards - Joe Pass

  15. #14

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    Awesome.

  16. #15

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    hey josh I'd second in for bass line melodies, one finger chords that they can sing songs like twinkle twinkle little star,thre blind mice etc. over. A far as attention span try breaking a half hour lesson into three parts, review what you did last week, present new material, play songs together or musical games. I try to make games up with kids like how many times can you strum a chord, how fast, how slow, how quiet, how loud etc. But the main thing is to try to hop onto their enthusiasm,wonder,excitement and kid energy...you know go to them instead of trying to make them be grown up and sitting still.You may teach them some guitar but in my experience they teach me a whole lot more.

  17. #16

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    I was teaching an 8 year old. I had never met such a self centred and over opinionated individual as he.

    He started with me as his previous guitar instructor couldn't fit him in any more, after a bunch of lessons I knew why!

    The last lesson was the deal breaker. He had an obsession for guitar picks, much like sport cards, Pokemon cards....
    I had misplaced one of my chunky wegen picks, when I noticed in his pick tin my wegen!
    'My father got it for me...'

    Hmmm.
    “When a wise man points at the moon the fool considers the finger.”

  18. #17

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    Sounds like another tragic case of Youthful Tendency Disorder.

  19. #18

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    I stopped teaching when I realized I was not qualified to be an educator. It takes a lot more than knowing how to play better guitar than the person you are trying to teach, especially with children. If I pay money for music training for my child, I want a professional who knows about the educational process and method, not a hack who is guessing about what they think might work.

  20. #19

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    While I was working on my Masters degree, I had a teacher who was teaching his son guitar. He used a capo on the fifth fret so his short arms didn't have to reach as far. Seemed like a great idea. He would slowly move it down as the kid grew. He also got him improvising from the very beginning. Dad is a jazz piano player and he'd play chords for the kid and have him create his own melodies. I thought this was a great idea.

  21. #20

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    I think there would be much to learn from the Suzuki method

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_method

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by srmaximo View Post
    Glad you guys enjoyed the song. And don't worry--his parents are big fans of his musical tastes, and they're pretty sure he's never been to Weno.
    That video is one of the best things I've ever seen. I just love the spaces between the verses when he starts breathing really fast as he gets excited for the next one.

    Completely adorable.

    I love your bass line idea. I can see how that would really help them move to music quickly.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by srmaximo View Post
    Sounds like another tragic case of Youthful Tendency Disorder.
    Ha! The article is humorous. I love this quote:

    "Ask Cameron the name of the real-life city councilman sponsoring the referendum to renovate the park just across the street from his house–a park he plays in daily–and he draws a blank."

    Hell! I couldn't do that myself!

  24. #23

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    Awesome ideas already mentioned.

    My perspective, I have been teaching guitar for a long time and have taught many kids under 10, a handful as young as 5.

    At this point, I start by focusing on melodies on a single string (the high E.) I show them a major scale on one string and use solfege as a reference (so I can say/write "this song goes do do so so la la so") and they usually do well with this, and enjoy it. If they can get parts of the songs by ear rather than my instruction, that's great, but some can't (some adults/teens can't either, no big deal)

    The cool thing about this is that it is gratifying because they are playing a real song pretty quickly, and it also is a very useful and practical education in something very fundamental but always important, scales and solfege.

    In the first or second lesson I make them go 1234 4321 on the high E string VERY SLOWLY and trying to follow some technique guidelines...I know that sounds intensely dry but I give it to them as a game/challenge to get their fingers to do these certain tasks, and everybody is usually up for it. I explain that to play guitar we HAVE to learn how the fingers meet the strings, and nobody ever objects - I think it's good to do this more or less first because once they play songs they'll have a harder time going back to tedious exercises. I am enthusiastic and light about it and I think kids are up for the challenge.

    Gradually I introduce double stops (very easy to play ones on the E and B strings) then three note chords, then full chords, then we can have fun with songs and I take requests if there are songs they know.

    I eventually work out of the Mel Bay Modern Method series, which can be a bit much for a kid that young but we go very slow and I often give them a lot of supplementary material that I write out in the lesson to help with anything that's giving them particular trouble.

    I tell their parents to sit with them and make sure they are doing at least just a few minutes a day, without that there is no progress.

    I'm not really a "Hey guys, let's all have fun today!" kind of person, so I don't pretend to be, and I think I attract the kind of clients/parents/students that respect that. I try to be enthusiastic about the material but it's more important to me that the kids are developing good habits to start with rather than having a ton of fun. Little kids seem to respect this most of the time, and the parents see that I'm serious about what I do..we're looking at the situation in terms of long term results.

    I've worked with a lot of students (of different ages) that previously worked with a different teacher and unfortunately have had to undo a lot of damage...some cases kids who have been playing for years but sound like they are in their third month.

    Learning about classical guitar perspectives on the left hand has been one of the most helpful things I've ever done as a guitar teacher...there are methods of using the left hand that are about a billion times more efficient than what rockers usually do, and unless if the kid is a prodigy, they are going to need a lot of guidance about how to get their darned fingers on the neck. The 1234/4321 thing above is useless if there isn't a lot of guidance about how the left hand meets the strings.

    A nice story is that one kid I've been working with for two years (she is now seven so she was five when we started) was having a tough time playing melodies in open position because she really struggled getting her fingers on the right frets, maintaining a good arch in her fingers, keeping the guitar steady, keeping her fingers close to the fretboard. So, yeah, these are all things you'd expect from a six year old, but I took a long time with her and kept it light and addressed these issues one by one and got her to see (step by step) how each thing got in the way of her playing the song (this is always an area you can have some fun with...like exaggerating bad technique so that it's obvious or impossible to play the song, it usually gets a good giggle from a little kid!) And now she's playing the tunes and making great progress and moving to harder pieces each month! We were really at a stand still but I got her to fix these habits and now her left hand is working efficiently and the problems she has with new tunes is simply reading the notes fast enough.
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    I stopped teaching when I realized I was not qualified to be an educator. It takes a lot more than knowing how to play better guitar than the person you are trying to teach, especially with children. If I pay money for music training for my child, I want a professional who knows about the educational process and method, not a hack who is guessing about what they think might work.
    This is a nice concept CG, but being practical, how many guitar teachers are out there that are both good guitarists (who are very knowledgeable about fundamentals like technique, sight reading, basic theory, etc.) and also have an educational background?

    Are you saying that you'd need your kid's guitar teacher to have a degree in education?
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeAcci View Post
    Are you saying that you'd need your kid's guitar teacher to have a degree in education?
    I'm speaking for the hypothetical parent who is going to invest a reasonable amount of cash to pay the teacher a fair price, cost of music gear, supplies, and time hauling a kid to lessons, waiting, and them bringing them home. I believe if a teacher is taking children as students, I'd trust they had some knowledge and experience of educational concepts for that age group, not just going on instinct. That doesn't require a degree in education. Too many unqualified guitarists passing themselves off as teachers, and that's a fact. Teaching is a skill all on it's own.

  27. #26

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    Cosmic Gumbo, I appreciate the high standard you hold guitar teachers to. At the same time, I don't think this ideal should stop people interested in teaching guitar from getting started. Unless they've got lots of money and time on their hands, the best way for most people to get started is to just jump in with both feet, and doggie-paddle as best they can. In other words, it's fine to learn how to teach AS you teach, instead of BEFORE you teach.

    Just be clear with your students' parents about your level of experience, of course.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    I'm speaking for the hypothetical parent who is going to invest a reasonable amount of cash to pay the teacher a fair price, cost of music gear, supplies, and time hauling a kid to lessons, waiting, and them bringing them home. I believe if a teacher is taking children as students, I'd trust they had some knowledge and experience of educational concepts for that age group, not just going on instinct. That doesn't require a degree in education. Too many unqualified guitarists passing themselves off as teachers, and that's a fact. Teaching is a skill all on it's own.
    So what does it require? What does as parent have to ask of a teacher to know that he is qualified?



    Quote Originally Posted by srmaximo View Post
    Cosmic Gumbo, I appreciate the high standard you hold guitar teachers to. At the same time, I don't think this ideal should stop people interested in teaching guitar from getting started. Unless they've got lots of money and time on their hands, the best way for most people to get started is to just jump in with both feet, and doggie-paddle as best they can. In other words, it's fine to learn how to teach AS you teach, instead of BEFORE you teach.

    Just be clear with your students' parents about your level of experience, of course.
    Srm I agree with your first paragraph...it's an unfortunate reality that you probably can only get better at teaching via teaching...I certainly look back at a lot of choices I've made as a teacher and realize I could have done a much better job, but that's true in all areas of life, right?

    The problem with your last sentence is that many people offering guitar lessons aren't aware of their lack of knowledge or lack of experience (I know I wasn't when I started.) I guess it's up to the client to be discerning and do their research and suss out BS.

    I mean, how many self-deluded musicians are out there?

    Eh I wish I could say a bit more about this, a little more articulately, but I wanted to put in my two cents...and now I gotta go teach!
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  29. #28

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    Missed this thread...

    I teach a bunch of youngins...I like raw beginners...

    My deal is melodies...lots of em...kids want to play something that sounds like music. I introduce simple chords, and they strum a bit, but we also arrange songs and use chords as "punctuation." I get them making music on the instrument as an instrument that doesn't need others playing with it.

    I try to make the musical knowledge stuff fun...games...find the note...i always teach the little ones to read...they soak it up like a sponge. I consider it a gift for a lifetime.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington