I, Elmer John Yusi, am a current Guitar Teacher here at Aureus Academy. I have been teaching Guitar here at Aureus Academy since June 2017 and I have a lot of experience when it comes to teaching Guitar including varying genres.
Writing this article is a wonderful chance for me to share my thoughts and experiences in this awesome journey of being a Guitar Teacher. It is my firm belief that my purpose in this world is to spread Music around the world and to make people love playing Guitar, that’s why I’m writing this article not only with objective intentions but with passion as well.
This is an article about Guitar lessons in Aureus Academy. Listed below will be the topics discussed:
Benefits of Learning Guitar
Guitar Exams (ABRSM and Trinity)
Frequently asked questions
6a. Is the Guitar hard to learn?
6b. What Age can my Child start learning Guitar?
6c. What type of guitar should I buy?
6d. Can I start Electric Guitar immediately?
6e. Are Guitar exams necessary?
6f. What if my child or I am left-handed?
With this article, readers will have a ray of light on Guitar lesson inquiries and most especially the interest to start learning. With Teachers like myself who are eager to educate and inspire more people to play Guitar, hopefully this article will be the starting line to more fun-filled Guitar lessons.
The price for Guitar lessons in Singapore are standardized based on duration regardless of age and grade or level:
$235 – 4×30 minutes
$349 – 4×45 minutes
$469 – 4×469 minutes
30-minute lessons are for beginners such as students aged 4-7 years old. 45-minute lessons are for students who have finished the beginner phase and have improved their techniques. This is also a usual lesson time for teenagers, young adults, and adults. 60-minute lessons are usually for those who are taking exams because they need to include more activities in lessons such as Theory, Aural Training, and Sight-Reading. Students also seek for 60-minute lessons if they feel that 45 minutes is not enough and if the songs are more complex.
There are Beginner Guitars, Intermediate Guitars, and Advanced or Professional Guitars
Prices for Beginner Guitars range from $85 – $200. Guitars from these price range are good for those who are just starting to learn.
Intermediate Guitars range roughly about $300 – $1000. These Guitars are for those who want a better tone and quality than that of a beginner Guitar.
Advanced or Professional Guitars range start from roughly $1400 up to more than $5000. These Guitars are for recordings, performances, and concerts. High-end Guitars demand high-end prices. The quality of these Guitars are lifetime and with the price comes heavenly stringed sounds.
Like with Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars can also be divided anto Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced or Professional. Electric Guitars tend to be more expensive compared to Acoustic Guitars because they require amplifiers, pedal effects, and other miscellaneous equipment.
Classical Guitars are generally more expensive compared to Acoustic Guitars, especially the ones for Classical concerts. For ABRSM exams, Classical Guitars should have exam standards in terms of quality of sound.
Guitar brands that I can recommend are Martin, Taylor, Gibson, Fender, Cort, Epiphone, and Takamine. My advise in buying a Guitar is don’t buy a cheap one, rather, buy a semi-expensive to an expensive one so that the learner will have more interest in playing Guitar just because the one being used has a great quality.
The Guitar is one of the oldest instruments in Music history and not to mention, one of the most popular. If you ask someone to name 3 instruments, the Guitar will most likely be mentioned. The Guitar has been played differently across history and its physique has also been altered numerous times. From “The King Of Rock” Elvis Presley during the 1950’s, The Beatles during the 1960’s, AC/DC during the 1970’s, Guns N’ Roses during the 1980’s, Nirvana during the 1990’s, Green Day during the 2000’s, and until today’s Music with Ed Sheeran, the Guitar has been widely popular due to the legendary artists and bands. With its popularity came demands of buying Guitar and having Guitar lessons. Certain individuals have certain tastes when it comes to guitar playing. Some like to play and sing at the same time, some like to belt out Guitar solos on the Electric Guitar, and some just like to chill and play relaxing Acoustic Guitar songs.
Music is divided into main genres such as Pop (popular music), Classical, Rock, and Jazz. There are also subgenres such as Country, Hip-hop, Metal, Punk Rock, Blues, EDM (Electronic Dance Music), and so on but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on the main genres for Guitar.
Pop Music, literally meaning “popular” Music is the most widely played genre among beginner Guitar enthusiasts. Personally, I think this is the case because it is the most played across radio stations, most talked about and viewed on Social Networking platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, and the artists who sing the songs are insanely popular. These current artists such as Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Bruno Mars, Imagine Dragons, and Clean Bandit provide Billboard top hits that are played and streamed everywhere.
One of the best factors that Pop Music bring to Guitar playing is the influence and inspiration it brings to the people especially the youth. A lot of my students wanted to play Guitar just because Ed Sheeran plays Guitar. It’s that big of an impact to people who want to play Guitar.
Also, one of the reasons why it’s popular is because it’s the genre which is easiest to play. Most Pop song hits of today revolve around 4-Chord sequences or less. Examples are:
Me by Taylor Swift – C-Am-F-G
Despacito by Luis Fonsi – Bm-G-D-A
Havana by Camila Cabello – Em-F-B7
Beautiful People by Ed Sheeran – Am – C –F
Pop songs are usually played with an Acoustic Guitar but can also be played with Electric Guitar. This Genre is popular at all ages, especially to the younger ones.
Currently, 90% of my students learn Pop Music. Even though they are generally easy to play, I find ways to make the songs more exciting and challenging.
As a Guitar Teacher, I teach Pop songs to my beginner students and gather their interest then further develop their interest to other genres to explore other kinds of Guitar playing.
Rock Music is defined as “loud, energetic, head-banging, toe-tapping” kind of Music. The face of Rock Music will most certainly be the Electric Guitar. It has been a symbol of Rock Music for a long time. Guitarists such as Slash of Guns N’ Roses, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and Jimmy Hendrix paved the way for Rock Music and playing the Electric Guitar in general.
For students who don’t normally enjoy Pop Music, Rock Music is a great alternative as it also is very popular and subjectively more fun to play just because the sound can be altered and amplified. The techniques to be learned for Electric Guitar are also challenging compared to just chord changing. I tell my Electric Guitar students that with the challenge comes the reward and satisfaction. To put into perspective, playing the chords of Katy Perry’s “Roar” is easier than the riff of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” but the latter is more impressive if performed.
Rock Music is played with an Electric Guitar, an amplifier and sometimes with a pedal that alters sound effects such as distortion, tremolo, crunch, wah, etc.
For those who wish to learn Electric Guitar, my advice is to begin with Acoustic Guitar first, learn chord playing and plucking then shift to Electric Guitar. Learning Electric Guitar needs to have a strong foundation from Acoustic Guitar because the techniques to be learned with Electric Guitar are far more advanced.
For my students who wish to change genres coming from Pop, I always introduce Rock as an alternative because it is a breath of fresh air to learn Electric Guitar and the techniques are more fulfilling to learn. So far, the students I have transitioned to Rock Music have enjoyed the genre.
Classical Guitar is one of the earliest genres of Guitar playing. Classical Guitarists such as Francisco Tarrega, Fernando Brouwer, and Mauro Giuliani have composed countless beautiful pieces and etudes that are still being played and learned to this day. Classical Guitar can be subdivided into:
Each subgenre has unique attributes such as polyphony of Baroque, graceful implementation of notes in Classical, and emotional drive of Romantic.
Coming from a Classical background from College, I have to say that Classical Guitar playing is the most challenging, technical and intellectual kind of Guitar playing. It requires intense levels of skill, finesse, exquisiteness, and needless to say, thousands of hours of practice. It is the genre that brings out the best Musician in a person just because of how challenging it is to learn and play.
To put into perspective, Pop Music and Classical Music are performed differently wherein in a Pop concert, people are encouraged to sing and dance with the performer whereas in Classical Music, it is the performer/s alone who is/are playing the music with unrivaled concentration.
For beginner students who do not typically like to learn pop and are eager for challenges, Classical Guitar is the way to go. It involves note-reading, Music Theory, and understanding of numerous terms. Due to the popularity of Pop Music, there are only a few Classical Guitarists today let alone Classical Guitar students. As a Guitar Teacher, I encourage my students to learn Classical Guitar especially those who have potential in learning in the Classical way because in terms of skill, it is the most fulfilling genre to learn in Guitar.
Jazz Guitar playing is in the same wavelength as Classical Guitar, just with different skills techniques. Classical Guitar is strict especially pertaining to the notation, wheareas Jazz is more into improvisation. Classical Guitar playing is bound by strict rules whereas Jazz playing tends to be more creative in nature.
Harmony in Jazz Guitar playing is different from Pop and Rock. In Pop Music, conventional chords are being used such as Major and Minor Chords. In Rock, “power” chords are utilized to implement “hard-hitting” and “heavy” sounds. In Jazz, the harmony has peculiar chords such as 7 chords, Major 7 chords, Minor 7 chords, diminished, augmented, suspended, and so on.
Jazz playing in Guitar is a challenging but unique way to Guitar playing as it requires a lot of creativity, spontaneity, and wide harmonic knowledge.
A typical lesson in Guitar can be explained according to the student’s level of playing. It can be divided as Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced. Each level has a different duration of lesson and lesson format.
A beginner lesson is usually 30 minutes long especially for young children. In a Beginner’s first lesson, I start by asking the student of their preferred Music genre, their favorite singers/bands, and their favortie songs. If I know the song/songs mentioned, I play the song on the spot so the student can sing along. This is one of the best ways to get their interest and attention.
In the event that the student is too shy or cannot name any favorite song/singer, I am the one who initiates the songs to be learned for the lesson. The rest will be for chord learning.
Usually in Beginner lessons, the emphasis is on the chord playing. Switching from one chord to another and then adding strumming patterns. While the student is playing and focusing on the chords, I sing the melody of the song or play the melodic line on the Guitar. I create a strong bond with the student to further increase their interest and enjoyment. My ultimate goal for a beginner’s lesson is to let the student have fun and build more interest.
An intermediate lesson usually is 45 minutes long and can go up to 60 minutes long. In an intermediate lesson, we start off first by reviewing the techniques and songs that were played during the previous lesson. In Pop playing, the chords are now more challenging compared to beginner chords. Also, the strumming is rhythmically varied. In Rock playing, intermediate guitar riffs and solos are learned such as riffs of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”, AC/DC’s “Back In Black”, and Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust”. We hone the skills and techniques to further develop the level of playing. The goal for intermediate level is to strive further and become advanced in Guitar skills.
An Advanced lesson usually is 60 minutes long because the structure of the lesson is more complex. For example in a Classical Guitar lesson with an ABRSM student, we start with warm ups such as scales, arpeggios, and etudes to improve techniques. The advanced lesson includes sight-reading, aural training, and execution of pieces. Usually, not all the mentioned activities can be squeezed into 1 lesson since each trait requires a considerable amount of time. We strengthen the weakest skill; let’s say sight-reading. The student will perform more sight-reading to further enchance the skill. Then, we proceed in developing the other branches. I make sure I bring out the best out of the student when it comes to Advanced lessons.
Benefits of learning Guitar
Imagine a scenario in a Secondary School and it’s lunch break, a student brings out his Guitar and plays the hottest billboard chart hit then suddenly the other students come closer and sing to the tune and be amazed by the student playing Guitar. This is just a usual example of the power the Guitar brings. Not only does it provide joy to the player, it also brings people together.
There are a lot of people who enjoy listening to Guitar players but there are only a few who try to learn the instrument. And for those who decide to try and learn the instrument, fewer only stick to learning it while others give up. I believe this is normal because playing the Guitar really is a difficult skill to learn. It requires a lot of effort, skill, patience, and drive to learn. It is a mission for Guitar Teachers like me to increase that number of people who stick to learning the instrument and not give up.
As I always say to my students, learning Guitar is a lifetime skill. It is a skill that can be enjoyed, developed strenuously, and passed down to another. Learning it provides an indescribable feeling of fulfillment. It is not only the instrument that I am teaching, but core life values as well including patience, determination, confidence, practice, and love of Music. Music is a reminder that we are human and we should enjoy life.
There are two kinds of Guitar exams in Singapore:
- ABRSM or the Associate Board of Royal Schools of Music
- Trinity Rock and Pop
For ABRSM Guitar exams, it is strictly Classical Guitar only. There are 8 levels of exams that can be taken. The exam consists of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural identification.
The total marks for the exam are 150. To pass, 100 marks are needed. With Merit is 120 marks and with Distinction is 130 marks.
The fees for the exams are varied according to level. Fees and syllabus can be referred to on the ABRSM website – ABRSM.org
For Trinity Rock and Pop, Electric Guitar is used. After the Initial exam, there are 8 levels of exam. The main difference between ABRSM and Trinity Rock and Pop is the genre. ABRSM is Classical while Trinity is Rock and Pop. Fees and syllabus can be referred to on the Trinity exams website – trinityrock.com
Frequently asked questions
6a. ”Is the Guitar difficult to learn?”
As to not sugarcoat it, the Guitar IS difficult to learn. Compared to the piano which only requires pressing of the keys for beginners, the Guitar strings needs to be pressed and pressed hard to be able to pluck the strings and create a good tone. In this regard, pressing the Guitar strings require tolerance of pain because of the pressing of strings. The pain only lasts for a couple of months of playing Guitar and when the fingers are used to it, it will be normal and won’t seem as painful anymore compared to the first few instances of playing.
For my students who complain about the pain, I tell them the simple phrase “no pain, no gain”. It is true that the pressing of strings may be painful, not to mention the difficulty of pressing the right strings and frets to form the chords, but it’s what makes the Guitar interesting to play. It teaches the student how to be patient in pressing the strings and frets, strumming the strings properly, and the fulfillment of accomplishing a difficult task.
So yes, the Guitar IS difficult to learn, but with PRACTICE and DETERMINATION, it becomes easier.
6b. “What age can my child start learning Guitar?”
Usually, for parents who want to enroll their young child to a Music lesson, they ask their child what instrument they want. Most of them will say “piano” as it is beginner-friendly and easy to play. For some, they will say “Guitar” even though they are not the right age yet.
For kids aged 4-7 years old, I teach Ukulele, a smaller version of a Guitar. The Ukulele is a stringed instrument but it only has 4 strings and the strings are made of nylon so they are not as painful to press compared to acoustic metal strings. The standard tuning of the Ukulele is different than that of the standard tuning of the Guitar. The Ukulele is a good start to young kids who would later on want to play guitar. Both the Ukulele and Guitar use pressing of strings on one hand and strumming/plucking on the other.
For the proper age of learning the Guitar, I would say generally it’s 7-8 years old. It all depends on the student. The determination, interest, and will to play all starts with the student and is further developed by the teacher.
6c. “What type of guitar should I buy for my child/myself?”
For young kids aged 7-8 years old, I advise buying a small Classical Guitar as it is not as painful to press compared to an Acoustic Guitar which has metal strings.
For young teens to adults who wish to play pop music, I suggest the Acoustic Guitar.
The Electric Guitar and Classical Guitar are only for those who specifically like to focus on the said genres. Electric Guitar students are more likely to play Rock or Metal songs while Classical Guitar students play Classical and may venture into examinations.
6d. “Can I start Electric Guitar right away?”
Technically speaking, a beginner student CAN start with the Electric Guitar right away but I don’t advise this. My advice as a Guitar Teacher is to start with the Acoustic Guitar first and develop beginner skills such as chord-changing, proper pressing, and rhythmic strumming. When these beginner skills are polished, the student can then shift to Electric Guitar. The Electric Guitar is different from the Acoustic Guitar not only because of its amplified sound but more importantly because of the techniques involved such as tapping, bending, sweeping, and so on. The strings of an Electric Guitar are more flexible compared to an Acoustic so the mentioned techniques are more suited for it.
6e. “Are Guitar exams necessary?”
I basically have two kinds of lessons; the fun lesson and the exam lesson. Most of my students signed up for Guitar lessons because they would like to have fun playing Guitar. There are some who would like to challenge themselves and go into Guitar examinations. The exam lesson is not as fun as a regular lesson just because it is strict, bound by rules, and is more demanding of time. This is a case-to-case basis because not all students especially the young ones would like to venture into the examination as it requires a lot more effort and practice. Some students would just like to learn for fun.
The exams are necessary IF the student wants to have credible skill achievements or further polish their skills. It all boils down to the drive of the student if he/she is eager to practice strenuously. As a Teacher, I would advise my student to take an exam if I know that he/she is eager to as I don’t want to force my students into something they are not interested in.
6f. “What if my child or I am left-handed?”
There have been numerous legendary left-handed Guitarists in Music History such as Paul McCartney, Kurt Cobain, and Jimi Hendrix. It just goes to show that both left and right-handed Guitar playing works.
But for me as a Guitar Teacher, I would like to teach my students right-handed Guitar regardless if they are left-handed. This is because it is more practical learning right-handed Guitar. I know a lot of people who are left-handed but still play right-handed Guitar really well. I will only teach my student left-handed Guitar if he/she is the one requesting for it.