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Thread: how to teach children guitar?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    how to teach children guitar?

    Hey everyone. I'm new here. Also new at teaching. Though I have been playing guitar for 10 years, I've never taught before. I'm a shy kinda person, early 20's, never been a talker but I do have a few good friends. I've recently been asked to give a lady's 8-10 year old kid guitar lessons. I like kids but I certainly am not an instantly likable guy. I just don't know what to say. So where do I start, teaching children? How do I make it interesting? Do I show them chords first off, or try to get their fingers to coordinate by playing single notes first? Do I involve rythem and beat at first?
    Help would GREATLY be appreciated.
    Thanks much.

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Deep East Texas Piney Woods
    I have not taught guitar, however, I am involved with 8 to 12 year old children in K-Kids and Builders Club.

    What to expect.........

    Short attention span.
    Like a goose, wake up in a new World each day.
    Small hands.
    Will not remember what you told them from one week to the next.
    Small assignments and expect to repeat a lot.
    Loose anything you give them, but will not know what to study or work on unless you send them home with your assignment written on paper. I'd suggest you put into their guitar case.

    So......IMHO.... keep it simple, 3 chord simple songs all down strums. And get her/him playing something the parent can recognize. Something to take home and be able to say; "Look what I can do". That way the parent is happy and the kid gains confidence.

    Be happy with small successes; keep it simple so he/she can have successes. I'd suggest one of the Guitar for dummies or Teach yourself guitar books to use as a lesson plan. And yes, have each lesson planned out, do not wing it. I've not taught guitar, but, I taught for years.

    Positive feedback --- Good try, you almost have it, letís try this...... works wonders with kids.

    Good luck ............... it can be fun..........
    Last edited by Malcolm; 01-19-2007 at 06:52 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Northwood, Ohio
    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm
    And yes, have each lesson planned out, do not wing it. I've not taught guitar, but, I taught for years.
    I've not taught guitar, but during my junior and senior years in high school I taught both theory and (french) horn privately, and planning lessons was an absolute must.

    Some things to consider when planning lessons:
    -Don't try to cram everything in at once. know how long you have (a half hour, hour, etc) and plan enough material that you can comfortably cover in that time.

    -keep in mind your student does not have your proficiency. it sounds dumb and obvious, but certain things may take longer than expected, so allow for this in your lesson plans. (this killed me when I first started!)

    -try to include things that will encourage as well as challenge. like malcolm said, simple things that the parent/student can recognize can be one of the best ways to maintain interest - the sooner music is beign made, the greater chance the student will continue and enjoy what they are doing.

    -finally, if posible form a general syllabus. more for the parent than student, but something that will show where you're headed and the order of progression. This isn't set in stone, but just something to be used as a reference point. It's also something that may help the student recognize just how far they've come, and how much material they have covered. (as a side note, I never formed a syllabus for instrumental lessons, I found it too difficult because every student was at a different level. I did though with my theory students.)

    Some other general thoughts on beign a private teacher (in case you decide to work with more students)

    -Make yourself legit. Every time a parent/child expressed interest in my studio I mailed them a packet of information about myself. This included a welcome letter that detailed all aspects of my teaching from missed lesson policies, to payment, practice expectations, equipment needs, lesson cancellations and make-ups, snow-day policies etc.. A full resume (including both education information, as well as music inormation, teachers, performances, compositions, commsiions, awards, etc). Full contact information - address, phone, cell phone, email, and general hours at which I could be reached. Finally I included my own teaching philosophy so the parents could get a feel for how I think.

    -Offer a free (trial) lesson. This proved very important for a few students whose parents were reluctant to have them study with a student. Allow the parent to observe a full lesson with their child so they can see the interaction, and knowledge you posess. This can also be useful if they are considering more than one teacher as it allwos them to put their child with whomever he/she works best.

    -Don't overprice yourself - but don't underprice either. The way I developed my price of $15/hour (45 minutes for theory*) was by finding the prices of a bunch of the horn/brass teachers in my area and charging $5 less than them. This is because I knew as a highsschooler i did not possess the professional knowledge or experience that they did, but I also knew that I did have knowledge well beyond most highschoolers and even some 1st/2nd year college students.

    *The reason theory was the same price is because it took much more preperation than the horn did. I wrote every lesson from scratch myself, and that included worksheets, and all kinds of other paperwork - i wasn't giving the theory kids a bad deal!

    Teaching can be a very rewarding experience, but it does take a lot of effort.
    Oh, by the way I'm also not a very outgoing person (in a group I'm the one in the back with headphones on transcribing music instead of socializing) so if i can do it - you can do it! Good luck!
    Hidden Content - The Music

  4. #4
    Ibreathe Follower Kinoble's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Hey buddy,

    I am teaching at the moment, and have been for a little while, but am not experienced fully at teaching yet(give me ten years!).

    I think you will be suprised at how basic and simple things will be. I did a lesson plan that i thought was incredibly basic, but when starting the first lesson it had to be made even simpler.

    How to hold the guitar comfortably, the names of the strings, how to finger chords without any fret-buzz--simple things that me and you may have forgotten how to do its so long ago.

    Ask them their interests, what they want to get from guitar. I actually took the first lesson just to know the pupil, so i could see what his goals were.

    Teaching them simple riffs and songs will help them with rythm, but also hope hold their interest. Then you can move on to the 'formal' side (theory, technique etc if thats what they would like to learn).

    Just get to know your pupil first and arrange the lesson around them and their goals.

    Anyhows, thats it from me


  5. #5
    Registered Axe Offender Romp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    I didn't read many of the replies above, but from my cursory scans they all look sound. I guess I would just say, don't take it too seriously. Most of the time when you're teaching kids you're 10% teacher, 90% babysitter. Focus on melodies that they're recognize (Mary Had a Little Lamb, Happy Birthday, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, etc., etc., ad nauseum.)

    Personally I don't particularly like teaching kiddy classes, to be blunt. I consider it a necessary evil. A small, small percentage will stick with it once they realize it actually takes work.

    But I consider it necessary because 1) it's good PR, but 2) more importantly, on the rare occasions you stumble on a really talented kid, you get the gratification of being an early influence of a potentially great guitarist. Makes it worth it.
    "The definition of definition is reinvention."

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Fond thank you

    Thank you everyone for your advice and thoughts! I think I'll talk with the kids and the parents on the first day, then make a simple lesson plan from there. I'll see how much finger/hand coordination they have and try to figure out the next step from there. I'll be back for more advice when needed Thank you all very much for your time and help. Lots of good stuff to start with. Thanks again.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2009

    The Kids Wanna Rock!

    Theres a guitar teacher's resources website that has an article on teaching children guitar.

    The article makes points about the kids of today wanting to play modern stuff rather than the "merrily we roll along" type of stuff that's in the books

    the site is at............... http://teachwombat.com

    You can also pick up some free giant chord grids and a free handout with all of the chords in the CAGED System on it to download and print

    hope this helps?
    Last edited by platypus; 03-13-2009 at 07:18 PM. Reason: I thought of a better title than the one I first used

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Santa Rosa
    Just teach them a few basic chords (E,G,D,A) and find some easy music that they can sing to with those chords. Beatles music might be easy for them.

    And whatever you do, constantly praise a young child for anything they do during the lesson -- save the 'constructive criticism' till they are a little older and have a sense of self. The most important thing you want them to remember after their early lessons is that "music is fun!"

  9. #9
    Well, I guess teach them first the notes and interval you can play the notes in the guitar and make them listen so they will to distinguished the difference of sounds from its notes.

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Teach children the basics. Let them listen to someone playing the guitar and let them build interest. It's kinda hard to teach someone if the interest level is not that high.

  11. #11

    how to teach children guitar?

    Starting with the easier chords is probably best.

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