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Thread: Need advice for teaching kids

  1. #1
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Need advice for teaching kids

    Hi all. I just landed a job at a local music store, teaching guitar to mostly kids. Any age from 7 and up. I have taught kids in the past but I am just looking for any advice as to how others out there feel would be a good approach. Thanks in advance.

    Joey

  2. #2
    Registered User Color of Music's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeyd929 View Post
    Hi all. I just landed a job at a local music store, teaching guitar to mostly kids. Any age from 7 and up. I have taught kids in the past but I am just looking for any advice as to how others out there feel would be a good approach. Thanks in advance.

    Joey
    This may seem obvious, but I think JonR may be one of the best people to help you here (not excluding the others)

    I'm a keyboard guy, I'll take a stab.

    First off, what exactly are you focus on? Is it the music itself? Interacting with the instrument? I'm not teacher, but having seen lessons on YouTube and of course participating in discussions here (even with guitar people - inclusion's a good thing). I probably can't help on the instrument technique, but the music side, I can help a bit more.

    Obviously, teach the fretboard and where the notes are and do the obvious "piano drills." (Scales/Arpeggios) One section at a time. No way they're ready to go up and down the neck; however, don't ignore doing that either, but it'll be too much right off the bat. Akin, to teaching one octave on the piano (two if you wanna push, but no more than that)

    Speaking of which, if these students are transfers from piano, then, clearly, you'll have to use both instruments. (ie: Halfstep on piano = one fret on guitar; one step = two frets). To make a long story short, teach "piano" for guitar so-to-speak for those specific students. All the while the guitar only students will be learnng abit about the piano (if they didn't pick up piano first)

    Notes, scales, (diatonic only, of course) Forming melodies (Demonstrate by playing some real songs and made up ones) and have the students imitate (not play) what you did (accuracy isn't the goal here). (Use "Do-Re-Mi" from SoM - I had to, sorry! Heck, let them watch the film as a special reward! )

    Chords (easy ones) and by easy I mean triads mostly. Of course, the learning of shapes and how to keep your students comfortable (technique) when forming playing goes along way, but I wouldn't be concerned with technique at this point. They have to get acquainted with the instrument first for attempting to play it. (Goes for every instrument)

    Show the fewest positions (ie: Closest to the neck would be my preference). Which comes back to shapes. I wouldn't say anything about moveable chords/shapes (don't verbalize it), but do hope they pick up on it. ("His fingers are in the same places.")

    Of course, there's the other "piano stuff," intervals, easy chord types.

    Once all that's down, you can get into rhythm. Rhythm may really excite the kids since in another discussion I said how melody and rhythm come easiest to children and therefore, intuitive. Play some rhythms with single notes only, then start using easy chords when you feel they're comfortable.

    It's obvious, they'll need some visual aid (ie: sheet music); however, don't turn this into a sight-reading class. They don't need that to be emphasized right now.

    It sounds like I'm a teacher, but I'm not; however, I have an instinct as I was a child in a music class myself - though I knew about music (through hearing) before I set foot in that class. That's another thing. They should hear more so than they see, This is true as music is an ear thing first. It may help them developed their aural sense.

    There's probably more advice I could give you or it is possible I could go further off track (if I did, my apologies), but I hope this somewhat helps! Any more questions, just ask; however, JonR will probably be the one of the few other that will go indepth regarding this since he teaches kids, too, I believe. (And of course, there may be differences in methods here, too, which is fine.)
    Last edited by Color of Music; 01-10-2013 at 01:42 AM.

  3. #3
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Cool man.

    Quote Originally Posted by Color of Music View Post
    This may seem obvious, but I think JonR may be one of the best people to help you here (not excluding the others)

    I'm a keyboard guy, I'll take a stab.

    First off, what exactly are you focus on? Is it the music itself? Interacting with the instrument? I'm not teacher, but having seen lessons on YouTube and of course participating in discussions here (even with guitar people - inclusion's a good thing). I probably can't help on the instrument technique, but the music side, I can help a bit more.

    Obviously, teach the fretboard and where the notes are and do the obvious "piano drills." (Scales/Arpeggios) One section at a time. No way they're ready to go up and down the neck; however, don't ignore doing that either, but it'll be too much right off the bat. Akin, to teaching one octave on the piano (two if you wanna push, but no more than that)

    Speaking of which, if these students are transfers from piano, then, clearly, you'll have to use both instruments. (ie: Halfstep on piano = one fret on guitar; one step = two frets). To make a long story short, teach "piano" for guitar so-to-speak for those specific students. All the while the guitar only students will be learnng abit about the piano (if they didn't pick up piano first)

    Notes, scales, (diatonic only, of course) Forming melodies (Demonstrate by playing some real songs and made up ones) and have the students imitate (not play) what you did (accuracy isn't the goal here)

    Chords (easy ones) and by easy I mean triads mostly. Of course, the learning of shapes and how to keep your students comfortable (technique) when forming playing goes along way, but I wouldn't be concerned with technique at this point. They have to get acquainted with the instrument first for attempting to play it. (Goes for every instrument)

    Show the fewest positions (ie: Closest to the neck would be my preference). Which comes back to shapes. I wouldn't say anything about moveable chords/shapes (don't verbalize it), but do hope they pick up on it. ("His fingers are in the same places.")

    Of course, there's the other "piano stuff," intervals, easy chord types.

    Once all that's down, you can get into rhythm. Rhythm may really excite the kids since in another discussion I said how melody and rhythm come easiest to children and therefore, intuitive. Play some rhythms with single notes only, then start using easy chords when you feel they're comfortable.

    It's obvious, they'll need some visual aid (ie: sheet music); however, don't turn this into a sight-reading class. They don't need that to be emphasized right now.

    It sounds like I'm a teacher, but I'm not; however, I have an instinct as I was a child in a music class myself - though I knew about music (through hearing) before I set foot in that class. That's another thing. They should hear more so than they see, This is true as music is an ear thing first. It may help them developed their aural sense.

    There's probably more advice I could give you or it is possible I could go further off track (if I did, my apologies), but I hope this somewhat helps! Any more questions, just ask; however, JonR will probably be the one of the few other that will go indepth regarding this since he teaches kids, too, I believe. (And of course, there may be differences in methods here, too, which is fine.)
    Cool man, thanks for the insight. As you would probably agree even if someone is a good player, teaching is an entirely different beast. I appreciate all the good advice.

    I have one private student that is 16 and she is somewhat of a gifted player, having played since age 7. With her it's more of a "monkey see monkey do" type of thing because she has an ear as good as mine, I can pretty much figure out just about anything if I focus.

    However at the music store, I intend to get students started with some basic theory and also want to teach them to read as well. Thanks again, I will be looking forward to more comments from anyone that wants to comment. I need all the help I can get.

    Thanks again.

    Joey

  4. #4
    Registered User Color of Music's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeyd929 View Post
    Cool man, thanks for the insight. As you would probably agree even if someone is a good player, teaching is an entirely different beast. I appreciate all the good advice.

    I have one private student that is 16 and she is somewhat of a gifted player, having played since age 7. With her it's more of a "monkey see monkey do" type of thing because she has an ear as good as mine, I can pretty much figure out just about anything if I focus.

    However at the music store, I intend to get students started with some basic theory and also want to teach them to read as well. Thanks again, I will be looking forward to more comments from anyone that wants to comment. I need all the help I can get.

    Thanks again.

    Joey
    So, it's where you want to focus. Well, to make it simple: Let them hear it first then see it. Don't get into the how and why yet as that will intimidate them. Of course, be sure to speak in their language when explaining.

    You know, I participated in a thread dealing with Perfect Pitch - the correct term is Absolute Pitch (they certainly needn't know these terms or what differentiates them) and someone asked me how I acquired Absolute Pitch. I told them that I developed my Relative Pitch very well, but I that became Absolute through repetition - hearing the same songs/sounds/pitches over and over. Again, this is not your aim nor should it be, but this goes along with the point/suggestion I made about developing their aural sense.

    In fact, when you get into scales and intervals, it's all about relative pitch - music in general is about sounds and hoe they relate to each other - even if you see them (ie: sheet music).

    Anyway, visualizing the piano, I used animals and objects naming one or the other for each note.

    C = Cat, D = Dog, E = Eel, F = Fox, G =Giraffe, A = Ant, B is well, a Bee! ()

    And then I said, how far does one have to travel to get to the other? The cat has to take two steps (halfsteps) or jump one time (a whole step) to get to the dog. For the halfsteps, I put "obstacles" to try to impede the animals' paths and named these as well (albeit, a bit more difficult)

    The cat (C) has to jump over the cage to get to the dog! What note is the cage? C#. One halfstep, Something more convoluted: The cat has to jump twice to get on top of the detergent box. C-C#-D-D#.

    Now, the actual cat may not have to touch the ground again; however, we know that two half-stwps = a whole step, so, metaphorically, the cat does have to touch the ground again. (C#-D) and then jump on to the detergent box (D#)

    The point this exercise is to get the children to understand relative pitch via halfsteps and wholesteps and even Perfect/Absolute Pitch through association. One object for each note explaining what said object has to do to get from Point A to Point B.

    How Absolute Pitch comes into play is associating an animal (any object really, but preferably an animal) and playing/seeing or calling out that pitch and having them respond with the appropriate animal or the sounds that animal makes (it can be the real sound or made up. (This won't always work well, but the exacting mapping isn't the point. Meow starts with an "M", yet, no M note exist - not that I know of! You know the note I'm using here, obviously) IOW, do the Pavlov experiement: Play a C, the children meow. Play a D, the children bark. Likewise, if the cat, always jumps on the cage (C#) detergent box (D#) or sits on one of them. This will increase their Absolute Pitch ability, but the focus should be RP. This can be anywhere on the piano or guitar, but again, mid or two octave range will saffice. [Middle C (8vb) ----> Middle C ----> Middle C (8va)]

    Speaking of which, the fretboard may be better suited as it's linear as opposed to the piano-keyboard which is triangular.

    With Key Signatures, you can use the trusted pnemonic devices or you could use the same animal associations. Bees, Eels, Ants, Dogs, Giraffes, Cats, Foxes (Flats) and just reverse the order for Sharps. Then, for quantity, place the appropriate number:

    Two Eels (Bb)
    Three Ants (Eb)
    Four Dogs (Ab)
    Five Giraffes (Db)
    Six Cats (Gb)
    Seven Foxes (Cb)
    One Bee (F) [Tell them One Bee is always F)

    Don't bother with F-flat (or even Cb), nor should you explain how F (Natural) is no exception (not at this point.) However, to explain how to get the correct key, say what yo must do, but demonstrate it (it'll get more difficult, but you can always go back to the staff)

    Shaprs again, are just the reverse of flats. so just reverse the order of the animals. Using the RP example with the "obstacles," here, tell the students that said animal needs to get off the top of the object onto the floor. Once its on the floor, that's your key. When asking what the KS (sharps) looks like, the animal must back on top of the object. (ie: If the fox is on the cage [F#], what's my key when the fox is on the floor? G. (Of course, make note of the fox's direction! If it'd gone backwards, the key would be F, but you always go forward with sharps.)

    If the fox is on the floor, but jumps forward onto a cage, my key is? G#. (Or Ab, but I wouldn't worry enharmonics, atp. IOW, call all the black notes and two white ones by one name as to not confuse them even if some do know what enharmonics are.)

    Again, the whole point is association! Which brings up "Song Association" when dealing with intervals:

    Do-Re-Mi - M2 (C-D) but you learn the remaining seven intervals, too.
    Michael, Row ... M3 (C-E)
    Wedding March - P4 (C-F)
    Star Wars - P5 (C-G)
    My Bonnie - M6 (C-A)
    Pure Imagination - M7 (C-B) or you could invert the m2 (B-C) (Jaws)
    Over The Rainbow - P8 (C-*C - Some - where ...)

    To reinterate, Do-Re-Mi has all of these in one scale: U-M2-M3-P4-P5-M6-M7-P8. This is why such a tune is used (other than learning Solfeggio) and being the most memorable even for those who aren't as musically inclined.
    Last edited by Color of Music; 01-10-2013 at 03:30 AM.

  5. #5
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    Maybe you should start by making them play their favorite music. I think that'll work.

  6. #6
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeyd929 View Post
    However at the music store, I intend to get students started with some basic theory
    What, kids from age 7?? Forget it...
    Quote Originally Posted by joeyd929 View Post
    and also want to teach them to read as well.
    That's actually not too hard, in my experience. The kids I teach start at age 8, but I use a book with notation right from the start (no tab). They quickly learn the open string notes, that top space is E, middle line B, 2nd line up G.
    But we spend the first 2 or 3 lessons just picking those 3 open strings, teaching them to play in time and read simple quarter note rhythms.
    Fretted notes start with A (3rd string), then C and D (2nd string), then F and G (top string), and then the 4th string (D, E, F). This would be over several weeks, even months (1 30-minute lesson a week). (You can get plenty of tunes out of those notes .)

    Kids that age usually have enough fun just making sounds and getting to grips with the instrument. As they get a little older (at least by 9 or 10) they want to play tunes they know. Things like Twinkle Twinkle will do, but classic rock riffs (eg Smoke on the Water on 1 string) often go down well.

    The book I use doesn't introduce chords at all until several months in - and then it's just Em! But then it is based (loosely) on classical technique, so they begin by picking those top strings upwards with their fingers, not down with the thumb. (However, I'm not too strict about this myself.)

    One of the hardest things I find is getting them to use different fingers! They always want to play every fret with the same finger, usually index or middle. It gets quite hard to break this habit once it develops, so I recommend being really firm about "fret 1 = finger 1, fret 2 = finger 2, fret 3 = finger 3". Try to make up some fun exercise which encourages it.

    For small fingers, chords are difficult to form properly, even on 3/4 or 1/2 size guitars. (I always recommend 3/4 size for kids 7-10, unless they're unusually tall.) As they get older - and more into rock - of course they'll want to learn chords, but I don't teach chords until they demand it, and certainly not until some months down the line.
    For younger kids, what really matters is being able to play a melody (nursery rhyme, anthem, riff, or whatever) that they - and their parents - can recognise. Chords don't do that.

    Theory? Forget theory entirely, IMO. Apart from the names of the notes, of course, and basic notation if you're going that way (which I recommend).
    Last edited by JonR; 01-12-2013 at 01:17 PM.

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