PHIL KEAGGY - Grammy nominated and seven-time Dove Award winner, is one of the world’s great guitar players and a pioneer in contemporary Christian music.
- March 20, 2017
- Guitar 101
In Kid Guitar 101, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. With children, environment is a big deal. Each kid’s aptitude and attention span is different. Some kids are good in a classroom at six years old, while others can’t seem to manage a classroom for 15 minutes even at an older age. With technology compounding every day, kids are glued to devices and learn only what they need to know in the moment. A kid can look up a song and mimic what he or she sees and hears long enough to pull off a convincing reproduction of the tune. This, however, doesn’t make them a good musician or qualify them to be considered an expert guitarist.
Kid Guitar 101 should be more of a slow and steady approach to learning “how to” and “what to do” while learning guitar. Maybe you’re afraid of getting bogged down in sight reading and music theory. It’s true, many have lost interest and dropped out due to the discipline of notation, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of good resources to influence you and a balanced diet of these things can help keep students growing and interested for the long haul.
The Guitar Instructor
First off, you should look for a great teacher for kid guitar lessons. These instructors are usually found at your local music shop, but you can also find one at your church or some other social setting. A good guitar teacher isn’t hard to come by, but your preferred method of learning might be harder to locate. If you want to learn classical guitar, you’ll likely need to look at your local college. If you want to learn modern christian praise and worship, you’ll need to look at your local contemporary church for a willing teacher. Exposing yourself to different methods of learning isn’t a bad thing either. One kid may gravitate to reading music while another kid may have a tremendous ear and lean more toward pop or rock music. Both require discipline to perform correctly.
Learning to play guitar from the 101 books is fine if you have some guidance, but there are so many little things like music and guitar language, style, and preference that you may miss trying to figure it out on your own. A book with audio or video accompaniment would be better and there are plenty of those available at your music store or online. Not every kid can read well and comprehension is a factor to consider when trying to learn from the 101 books. Get yourself a book, but get an instructor too. Most teachers provide or recommend their own version of these kid guitar 101 books.
The Online Approach to Kid Guitar 101
The Internet has become the biggest source for learning anything these days. However, you can’t ask Siri or Google to make your hands play “Stairway to Heaven” or some other song on guitar. Perhaps that kind of technology will come later, but for now, you still have to learn the motions, build the hand muscles, and use both hands at the same time to perform a correctly played version of any song. You might say “correctly” is a relative term and it really doesn’t matter. Well, If you’re a 15-year-old trying to impress other people your age, you may be right, but anyone with ears can tell if you’re doing it right or not. You wouldn’t want anyone doing your heart surgery while viewing it step-by-step on Youtube. You’d look for a heart surgeon with years of experience and many successful operations. Still, learning online is an amazing resource for a kid to learn guitar and it should be part of their guitar learning diet.
The Self-Taught Method
Learning the hard way is how many great guitarists have done it. All this means is you are passionate about the instrument and you figure it out through trial and error. The only negative to this is the bad habits you learn. Some players have actually used their bad habits as part of the charm of their playing. While it’s possible to use mistakes to your advantage, you shouldn’t plan on it. Imagine how many guitarists out of millions can claim fame like this. Give yourself the best chance at being a good musician. If you or your child is passionate about guitar, get a great guitar and get exposed to all of the above.
The Practical Tools
Kid Guitar 101 should include learning the fretboard of the guitar. You should learn how to make chords and play melodies.You should learn exercises and scales and how they relate to the chords and melodies of the song. This is called “theory.” Every guitar student should learn to read notation, chord charts of all kinds, and play by ear or improv. Too many classical readers can’t sit in with a band to just jam and too many ear players can’t read enough notation to do a session or sit in with the local church team. A well-rounded guitarist can do both effectively. Learn to read well and play by ear. Playing mathematically is great, but getting off the page and playing with expression is just as important.
The How To Learn and What To Do List:
Start with the Kid’s Songs
Start with songs you’ve heard since you were a child. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for example. It’s also the ABC’s song. It’s very familiar, therefore it’s easy to know when you have it right or wrong. Learn the notes you’re playing on the fretboard. Play the melody first. Now, play the chords and learn what harmony and strumming or rhythm means. Add more challenging songs as you master each simple tune.
Strength Builders and Scales
You don’t have to make these painful or so mathematical. It can be a lot of fun. Finger exercises with twists and turns and funny names and scales can be less about the medicine and more about the candy. Kids enjoy games, so make it enjoyable.
Songs On Assignment
Besides the songs learned from an instructor or book, take on a simple song that is demonstrated on Youtube and make it an assignment. This challenge will help the student’s ear and comprehension skills.
Strive For Versatility
Learn to read the lines, spaces, and rhythms written on the page, but then look up and play it note for note with expression. Don’t get too glued to music reading. Learn it correctly, then make it your own. Learn to read chord charts and number charts.
Stretch Yourself Daily
Force yourself to learn something new each day and spend a day each week remembering and rehearsing the new things you’ve learned. For a kid, 15-30 minutes to practice is asking a lot these days. Take on the 15 minute approach but do it 3-4 times each day. You want the child to enjoy it so you’re not constantly answering “Do I have to?”
All in all, the Kid Guitar 101 approach will include some learning materials, instruction, and discipline. There’s no magic formula. Every student is different and every learning method varies. You should just get started, find out what works best for you, and be devoted. If you love guitar and music, set your sail and don’t look back. You’ll discover plenty of challenges, but feel great about your victories as you grow and become an exceptional guitarist.
At Pro Lessons, we are eager to help you or your child on your musical journey. With online guitar lessons for a variety of skill sets, we offer training from a number of skilled musicians who have played in popular bands today. Find out more about our affordable rates by clicking below.