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.
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!