I'm considering taking a job teaching acoustic and electric guitar to young children, probably ages 5 or 6 to 12. Does anyone have any suggestions about the best way to teach them? How to encourage them if they get frustrated with guitar? Thanks :)
Teaching a child that is 5 or 6 and teaching a child that is 12 are two different animals. Thats Kindergarten to Junior High. There is no way to answer that for me (a school teacher/administrator) without more information. Would this be something that you are doing on your own? Are you going to work in a structured environment or at home? Have you ever taught anything before? I would be glad to throw out suggestions if you could tell me more.
I would be teaching at a local music store, which runs mostly on lessons for children of that age. I would be teaching one student at a time and I would be the only teacher in the classroom. I have taught before (at home), but with little success. My 1st student (14 years old) had a learning disability, so it was difficult for her to understand some things no matter how I broke it down, although, with some difficulty, she did manage to learn "Happy Birthday." She was somewhat motivated and and believed that she could play well if she really tried, unlike my 2nd student. My 2nd student was not even 10 years old, did not understand anything, and probably only came to lessons because her mother made her come. At first she was enthusiastic and a little encouragement was enough to get her to keep trying, but 2 lessons later she would get very frustrated and refuse to make any effort to listen as I tried to explain things or show her how to play something again.
Any advice you can offer is greatly appreciated. Thanks so much! :)
The best advice that I can give you is this. Find songs that the kids are interested in. Teach them to chord and play songs immediately so they do not get bored. Pick music that they like....not music that you like. Trying to teach a 14 year old twinkle twinkle will drive them out he door faster than a health department warning in a cafe. Mix the hard lessons in between learning new songs. Always do the hard and boring stuff in the middle of the lesson. Open with fun and end with fun. My experience has been that many times if you do things this way they will learn some of the hard stuff and not even know it. I'm being really general and hope I haven't insulted you with this. I just know that a lot of kids walk out the door and never return because they have some silly "canned" lesson book jammed down their throat.
That sounds like a pretty good plan. I guess one of my mistakes was that I started with the hard stuff right at the beginning of the lesson in an effort to get it out of the way. Thanks!!! :)
Does the local music store sell guitars? You may/will be getting requests for advice from parents regarding what guitar(s) to check out...make sure you have some good answers ready...the last thing you want (other than a totally unmotivated student...) is a student trying his or her best on a sub-par "instrument" with action as high as my Windaroo (or Cheech & Chong...) ;-)
After re-reading your post, and since you say you will be instructing very young students, may I suggest a well-constructed, solid-topped, 1/2 size guitar that is NOT a toy? The CF-550 PointFive - http://www.waldenguitars.com/CF550_P5.html - and a nylon version - the CN-570 PointFive - http://www.waldenguitars.com/CN570_P5.html. Pics below:
Hahaha yes this store does sell guitars. Unfortunately, they're mostly entry level guitars that don't play very well. But then again, every once in a while they'll have a rare gem. Just a little while ago they had a vintage Rickenbacker.
hi AJ Ouellette,
I taught to six years old childrens and it was so hard because of the strings of the guitar which were hurting their fingers.
So I started from playing with them, for example, making them take the time together with you or moving the body in different mode, with hands, walking following the time 1, 2, 3, 4 and on the 4th, clap!
I taught them how to read notes by drawing in their books every notes in different color, letting them choose the color and recognize the note by the color. After that, I used adhesive paper on their guitar's keyboard, pasting a piece of paper colored with the note's color, in every part of the keyboard of the guitar. Then I tried to teach them simple melodies, written in the pentagram with the colors selected before, for every note. it worked, they where able to find the right notes :)
Maybe this could help, best regards
My daughter is 6 and her piano teacher says that out of 30min, 10min MAX is spent actually playing the piano. Their attention span and interest just cannot sustain a full lesson.
I think, much of the time, the teacher is playing/singing/doing exercises - anything to keep those kids attention. It is very difficult. I have a great respect for anyone who can do it, because I know how hard it is.
Incidentally, my daughter has all but given up after the few good lessons we've had together, because the 3/4 guitar we got is just too big for her (the advice I got from the shop probably wasn't right). I'll have to see what I can do about that. She just wants to strum the songs she hears in Barbie movies, wear a pink dress and have a pink guitar...
Haha! Let her keep her Barbie music for a while :) Then play Patti Smith in the car, and maybe she'll learn to like it.
The February 2013 issue of AG (with Mumford & Sons on cover) has an article, with videos, called Teach Your Children. I thought it sounded like a good way to ease kids into music making and guitar playing. The article is not in the digital version on the website, but you can find the videos here: