How To Ensure Your Child Gets The Most Out Of Guitar Lessons

Parents Guide For Guitar Lessons In Arlington TX
Guitar Lessons Arlington TX

How To Ensure Your Child Gets The Most Out Of Guitar Lessons

Parents Guide For Guitar Lessons In Arlington TX

Guitar is a tricky instrument to learn and it could be especially frustrating for younger students. If you are reading this, you’ve already taken the first step in making the learning process for your child easier by getting them a guitar teacher. I’ve been teaching guitar to kids long enough to know that just showing up to lessons on a weekly basis and putting in some practice time at home is not enough to ensure their success on the instrument. Here are a couple of tips that will help your child get the most out of lessons and gives them the best chance to succeed!

MAKE SURE GUITAR IS SETUP CORRECTLY AND IN TUNE

After our first lesson together, I will show your child how to tune the guitar and it’s important that EVERY time your child goes to play or practice the guitar that it is tuned properly.

I will also have the chance to inspect your child’s guitar and see if there are any adjustments to the neck or string height that need to be made. It’s super important that the instrument be comfortable for your child to play and stay in tune. If any adjustments need to be made, there is a local repair guy that I like to refer my students to when they need a guitar setup. It’s a relatively low cost, around $30 or so, and if a setup is needed, it will make it much easier and less frustrating for your child.

GET ORGANIZED

It’s a real good idea to keep all printed materials that I give you in a folder or 3-ring binder so that you can easily and quickly get to any given lesson or piece of music.

Also, a big portion of the material that I give to students is in digital format (pdf’s, mp3’s, etc…) so it would also benefit you to setup a specific folder either on your computer or in your email that would be used exclusively for the materials that I give you.

KEEP THE GUITAR OUT OF THE CASE

This is a little psychological trick that really does work well. For whatever reason, keeping the guitar in its case at your house kind of puts it “out of sight, out of mind.” When it’s out of the case, staring at you and reminding you to “come pick me up and play me!” it makes it much more likely that you will.

DON’T TREAT PRACTICE LIKE A CHORE OR HOMEWORK

While guitar can be challenging, it should also be FUN! The moment that guitar becomes something they HAVE to do vs what they WANT to do is usually the beginning of the end. I structure the lesson plan for my kid students to have a good balance of things that they should be doing along with things that are fun and sometimes silly in order to keep them engaged and interested. So, you as a parent should approach practice time not so much as a thing that must be completed but as a fun activity.

LET THEM PRACTICE ALONE

Instead of watching over their shoulder to ensure that they are practicing, let them practice alone so that they can explore the instrument. This may mean that they veer off course a little bit in terms of practicing exactly what I give them and how I instruct them to practice, but that is totally OK. The goal is to keep the child engaged and interested and if that means they just make noise for 20 minutes on the guitar, that is ok.

EMPHASIZE GOALS NOT TIME PRACTICED

You will hear me talk a lot about this in lessons: Don’t focus on how much time you practice each day…create a little micro goal and focus on completing that. For instance, instead of just saying that you are going to practice a specific exercise for 10 minutes, but it would be more beneficial for you to put it like this “I’m going to memorize the first 4 measures of this exercise.” A small little goal like that most likely only takes 10 minutes to accomplish but think of the difference between doing that and “just practicing” for 10 minutes. You’ve set a goal and you checked it off. Your confidence will go up and you will build momentum.

ENCOURAGE THEM AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

Keeping the child’s confidence up is super crucial to sticking with playing the guitar. If you can make out what they’re playing, tell them it sounds good! Tell them they are doing a good job! Have them bring the guitar out to entertain grandma and grandpa! Every little bit of extra encouragement goes a long way.

KEEP ME IN THE LOOP

If there is ever anything that you need…I’m always there for my students. I check my email religiously and am usually good at getting back to people within a day or so. Don’t ever be afraid to ask me questions or express a concern!

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4 Things To Focus On When You Are Short On Guitar Practice Time

How To Practice Guitar When Short On Time
Guitar Lessons Arlington TX

4 Things To Focus On When You Are Short On Guitar Practice Time

How To Practice Guitar When Short On Time

Do you sometimes find yourself not having enough time to practice the guitar?

Do you sometimes skip practicing guitar for the day because you say to yourself “well…I’m only going to get 15 minutes of practice today, so it’s not even worth it?”

What if I told you there are 4 simple things that you can do on days where you don’t have enough time to practice the guitar, would you believe me?

Listen, I know that we all can get busy and I know that if you are like most of my students, guitar is a fun hobby, not a full time career. Still, wouldn’t it be nice to squeeze the most out of every minute out of your guitar practice session, even if it’s only just 15 minutes?

The first thing that we have to do before we go any further is we have to admit the truth.

The truth is that you have AT LEAST 15 minutes everyday to practice guitar.

If you think that you don’t have 15 minutes a day to practice, then you are a big ol’ liar walking around with your pants on fire!

Seriously, how much time do you spend on watching TV per day?

How much time do you spend surfing the interwebs or playing on you smarty-phone?

If you are like the average person in America, you watch 2 hours of TV/day and another hour surfing the net/playing on your super phone.

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, you can take 7 ½ minutes away from the Law & Order: SVU Marathon on USA Network to practice your guitar? Stabler and Benson will be there when you get back, I promise.

How about taking another 7 ½ minutes away from the super phone?

Here…use the word “Xenophobe” in Words With Friends.

Good, now you won…go pick up your guitar!

How about sleeping? The majority of Americans sleep their lives away.

What if you woke up 7 ½ minutes earlier and went to bed 7 ½ minutes later?

Do you think that could work?

Now that we know that you can find the 15 minutes everyday to practice, we could take the next step.

It’s the hardest step to take and even when you take it a few times it’s hard to take it consistently.

You have to commit to practicing CONSISTENTLY.

I know, some days you will be tired. I know, some days you will have a lot going on.

However, think with the end in mind.

Don’t focus on today but rather focus on the future when you are playing the guitar EXACTLY how you have always wanted to. You don’t get to that goal by taking one big action.

You get there by taking little actions constantly and consistently.

So I know, ideally, that you want to probably practice 30-60 min every day but as we already talked about sometimes that is not possible but we also found that we can carve out at least 15 minutes.

So, what are going to do with those 15 minutes?

To get the most out of a short practice session, we want to focus on one of these 4 main concepts: Isolation of Weakest Areas of Technique, Integration of Skills, Real Life Situational Guitar Playing, and Ear Training.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that you should practice all four topics in one 15-minute session.

I am saying you could pick just one of these concepts and practice just that for your 15 minute practice session.

Working on any one of these areas for 15 minutes is obviously better than doing nothing at all and it is better than noodling around and/or practicing something you are already proficient at playing.

Let’s take a look at what each concept is and how to implement it in to your short practice sessions.

1) Isolation of Weakest Areas of Technique

We all have areas of our guitar playing that we want to improve, but what I want you to do is pick the top 3 technical areas where you feel that you are really weak at and then write them down.

This could be anything from changing chords, scale memorization, directional picking, mitigating extraneous string noise, etc.

Obviously, it is going to differ from person to person.

For me, I would probably pick sweep picking, string skipping, and legato playing as areas that I feel I am weak at.

So what I would do, and what I want you to do, is to pick 2 or 3 exercises in each of the 3 technical areas of your playing and keep them on file near where you practice.

I keep all my practice materials on files on my computer but a lot of my students print their stuff out and keep it in binders.

Either way, just make sure your organized and you could pull up these exercises immediately and without having to search for them.

This way, when you are short on time, you can focus on turning your weakness into a strength without having to waste any time figuring out what to practice.

Since we’ve isolated 3 areas and have 2 or 3 ideas per area, we also have some variety involved so that boredom won’t be an issue.

2) Integration of Skills

This is my personal favorite thing to practice and it is something that my private students and I focus heavily on. It’s the one area of practicing that can completely supercharge your guitar playing and get you awesome results faster.

What it involves is taking 2 or 3 techniques or concepts and integrating them together, usually by playing one technique seamlessly into another.

An excellent way to integrate guitar soloing concepts, for example, would be to take the concepts of fretboard memorization, scale sequences, and music theory (in this case, knowing what notes are contained in certain chords in a given progression) and combing all of these skills into one big exercise.

Let’s say we found or created a backing track in the key of Am and it has the chords Am-G-F.

A way to practice integration of the aforementioned skills would be to play any scale sequence that you may know that starts on the root note of each of the chords in the progression and then change your position on the guitar every time the chord changes.

So, when the Am chord starts, I’d start at the root note of the chord on the D string (7th fret) and play the scale sequence.

When the chord changes to G, I am now going to move to the high E string and find the root note for the G chord (3rd or 15th fret) and play my sequence.

When the chord changes to F, I am going to find the F root note on the B string (6th fret) and play my sequence. Of course, you can change a whole bunch of things about this exercise to make it easier or harder for yourself, but by practicing in this way for 15 minutes, you are combining a whole bunch of different skills together and getting way more out of your time than if you just haphazardly noodled around.

3) Real Life Situational Guitar Playing

This one is a fun thing to practice. It’s also a super important thing to practice if you play in a band, but so many guitar players neglect to do it and they end up frustrated when it’s time to rehearse or perform live. What this concept involves is trying to recreate the situations of playing live to the best of your ability.

This includes switching from playing rhythm guitar to playing lead and I’m not just talking about the physical act of making that switch, but changing your pickup selection and hitting effect pedals.

More often than not when a guitar player switches from playing a rhythm part to playing a solo, they usually switch the pickup from the bridge to the neck and probably step on a pedal to either add more gain or boost the volume slightly.

They might even activate a Wah-Wah pedal.

I know from personal experience that not practicing those maneuvers can make you look real stupid and foolish in a band setting!

Don’t be like me and get laughed at…practice stomping on pedals and changing your pickup selection and get it seamless.

Also, it’s a good idea to recreate some similar issues in a live situation.

It’s really easy to play great when you can see and hear everything perfectly, but guess what? Not every stage and venue is going to sound like your bedroom.

Things will go wrong. You might not be able to see your guitar or you might not be able to hear other key instruments to give yourself clues as to where you are in the song. So, practice in the dark. Practice to backing tracks that have key elements of the song removed. Pick a random part in the song to start and try to jump in. Doing these things in practice can save your butt big time when it’s time to do it for real!

4) Ear Training

This is something that you could do with or without a guitar and developing your ear is absolutely critical to becoming a good guitar player.

One of the things I have a lot of my students do is to head over to Good-Ear.com and run through exercises that are suitable for their current skill level. This great for those of you that are addicted to surfing the net!

Instead of taking a BuzzFeed quiz, run through some ear training drills! You can also work on your ear training while you are driving your car or listening to music while walking or working out.

Some of my students get audio files to work on areas of their ear training but you could do some ear training while listening to your favorite songs.

This is a good exercise that I put my beginner and intermediate students through: put on a song you like and count the quarter notes, then count in eighth notes, then triplets, then sixteenth notes, then try to count combinations. This could be easy or hard depending on the feel and tempo of the song, but it is something you could do away from your guitar.

See? It’s not hard to find the time to get 15 minutes of practice in during even the most hectic of days and now that you know what to do with these short practice sessions, you could keep your progress moving forward.

If you want more help specific to your challenges and goals, fill out the form below to get more information on taking private lessons with me.

 

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