At the start of each lesson, while students are unpacking gear, I ask the student what’s been going on in their life:
- “What new things are you doing in 4th grade?”
- “Did you have fun at last week’s soccer game?”
- “Are you able to fit guitar practice in your schedule?”
- What’s your favorite part about practice?”
Today, 9 y/o Emi replied to my last question with this: “My favorite part about practice is practicing with my mom”.
Emi is progressing beautifully in her work this year – she is strumming pop songs and beginning to play classical guitar as well. She is attentive in lessons, asks great questions, and is showing improvement from one lesson to the next. I’m convinced it’s because of MOM!
This teacher is no fool! I know the power of MOM and DAD and I need them on my team. Parents are the first teachers. They are the ones who bring learning full circle for kids.
The young beginning student on any instrument can really struggle. The guitar is especially tough. The instrument faces away from the student and it’s challenging for them to see what they are doing!
Parents may worry that they need to be able to play guitar in order to help their child in practice. I’ve got that covered. My students go home with a list of practice directions. (Emi’s most recent practice directions are included below for you to see). Parents are encouraged to come toward the end of the lesson and go through the practice directions with me and their child. It’s a wonderful way to sum up the lesson, and also have the student demonstrate what is needed in practice. I feel good knowing the student has a solid handle on what to do; parents feel good they know how to guide the practice sessions; and students feel confident in their ability to manage practice. The result: Success!
Emi’s Practice Directions 10/9/17
Practice 4 times a week for 20 minutes
- Strolling on the Strings – one time each practice. Forward and backward
- Alternate Picking exercise
Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)
- Review the strumming by playing through one verse of the song
- Review the flat picking pattern.
- Next, play through the flat picking music (TAB). It’s ok to skip the repeats until you start getting faster. But, don’t rush to get faster. Going slow in the beginning is very important
- Make sure you strum the correct strings
- D chord: strum 4 strings
- A and Bm7: strum 5 strings
- G and Em: strum 6 strings
- Practice the exercise with the practice recording.
- Try increasing the speed with a metronome.
- Review the placement of the fingers
- Make sure you see the “X”
- Sing (or say)and play the notes.
- Singing (or saying) the notes will help you learn to read music faster.
Donna Zitzelberger is founder of www.kidsguitarcorner.com