October 2019

What You Need To Know About Guitar Lessons? – By Aemilio Enginco

Are you sending your child to his or her first music lesson? Are you considering guitar as his or her first musical instrument? In this article, we will tackle all you need to know to make the most out of their first try on the instrument! Most likely, the primary information parents must know before they book their first trial lesson is the cost is in ratio to the chosen length of each lesson. Given that length of lesson is a direct variable to the cost, parents must understand first which kinds of students are usually taking up 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and 1 hour. Specifically, in Aureus Academy, we offer 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and a full hour of lesson. Parents must be able to gauge which length of lesson will suit their child more; without sacrificing their enjoyment on the lesson, burning them out, and enthusiasm on the instrument. We start with the shortest, which is 30 minutes. Majority of the students in this cluster are those who have just started their music lessons, and are usually in the age bracket of 4 to 10 years old; there can be exemptions but these are the usual cases. The reason behind this is that, we must all know that learning an instrument is both a mental and physical activity. For the students taking up classes in guitar, in the first few lessons, the fingertips might feel a bit sore and the stamina for this needs to be built with time. Next reason for this is that it will be great training for students in this cluster to develop correct habits; and we all know that habits are formed through repetition. For guitar, it may be applied as learning a short introduction of a song like Viva La Vida by Coldplay or Cool Kids by Echosmith, to name a few. If a child repeats this so much, and the teacher insists to perfect each measure of the introduction, then it will sink in to the young learner that the correct way to practice even a short segment of a song is to repeat it and be able to identify certain parts that are difficult and target that in practice. To summarize this cluster, the main objective is to develop correct habits without sacrificing enthusiasm, interest, and discouraging the young learning from pain on the fingers, and lengthy lessons not suited yet for their “lesson stamina”, if we may call it. The next we will tackle will be the cluster that can go for a 45-minute lesson. These learners are usually those who are aiming to the path of examinations and recitals. We must understand that there are, most likely, two types of students. One are those who play and learn for fun, and two, are those who are eager to do music instrument examinations. Usually, teachers will encourage students to attend and perform in recitals so as to make a lesson goal-driven, without the pressure of being graded in an exam. This is a very rewarding experience for the students as recital settings in Aureus Academy are very friendly and appreciative. Aureus sets recital to boost students’ confidence, stage presence and artistry. Imagine going to lesson, mastering a song by ACDC and rocking it in your electric guitar, plucking melodies in your classical guitar written by master composers such as Francisco Tarrega, and learning arrangements for fingerstyle guitar by Sungha Jung; and be able to confidently play those songs in front of a crowd. These experiences might be the start of a spark that will ignite more of the learner’s passion for music. But let us not forget those who chose the path that leads to examinations. To name a few, we have ABRSM exams and the Trinity Exams (which caters classical, and Rock & Pop). These learners are put in a setting where they have to choose three songs or pieces to master. For classical exams, they will have pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests. On the other hand, those who chose Rock & Pop will have 3 songs played with a backing track, and coupled with a segment called session skills where they either improvise or read insight. The 45-minute duration is recommended for those who are taking Grades 1 to 5. Lastly, we have learners in the cluster of the one-hour lesson. These students are majority taking higher-level exams from Grades 6 to 8, and even diploma level. The reason behind is that the three required pieces are now much longer ranging from 5 to 10 mins each, and the scales to be memorized around 4 to 7 pages. For the none-exam takers in this cluster, they have mastered the value of appreciating the attention to detail and slow practice. They may have also reached a higher tier of level in terms of difficulty. Most of them playing songs by John Mayer, Eric Clapton, Queen and the likes. To summarize this cluster, it is closely relative to the 45-minute cluster of students, only that they moved a level or levels of tier in terms of difficulty in songs and pieces. That will, more or less, be what parents would need to know about choosing which duration is best suitable for their child and how it is relative to the cost of lessons. Moving onto the next agenda is understanding the different types of guitars and its uniqueness from each other. First we have is the Electric Guitar; known to be eye-candy to kids. Electric Guitars function with the use of an amplifier, a cable and a power plug. For starters, there are packages that include all the basic set-up you need to learn the electric guitar, and it is priced cheaper to target those beginner electric guitarists. Next we have is the acoustic guitar. This guitar typically has a soundhole, a hollow body, and steel strings. This guitar is very good in terms of using the instrument as an accompaniment or in playing fingerstyle arrangements. Lastly, we have the classical guitar! This guitar has a hollow body in a shape of a number 8, has nylon strings, and has a carved headstock called the “crown”. This type of guitar is perfect in playing instrumental songs, and classical songs from the era of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and the likes. One recommendation to help in identifying which might suit your child best is to evaluate the songs they enjoy and listen to. From there you will be able to know which type of guitar to pick for them! Now a lot of parents may ask, at what age should a child start guitar lessons? Well, this is a case to case basis with a lot of factors to consider. One, is the finger length of the learner. If the enthusiasm is really there but the hands are still too small to learn guitar, then try resorting to Ukulele; the guitar’s younger cousin. It demands the same way of playing as an actual guitar, only that it is smaller and has 4 strings, as opposed to the guitar with 6. Children starting to try the guitar or ukulele are usually in the age of at least 4. Now that we have identified the factors that greatly affect the basic details needed for a child’s lesson, let us now know dissect what the usual lesson structure for guitar is. In a 30 minute set-up, the first 5 minutes will go to warm ups and a recap of what the previous lesson was about. In Aureus Academy, we use our Aureus Diary to keep track of our weekly lessons and this is what the teachers will look at every start of lesson. Then, the teacher will now ask the student to play the assigned homework of the learner and from there, the teacher takes notes on the areas that they need to work on. In case that the homework was done perfectly, then the lesson moves on to the next part of the piece and this may take 18 minutes. Next 2 minutes will be more of teaching the learner how to practice it efficiently at home, while writing notes on the Aureus Diary for record and reference of the child at home. The last 5 minutes is ideally dedicated to show the parents what the child has learned and this is the time where the teacher may also give tips on how parents can help their children with practicing at home. For the 45 and 1 hour lessons, it will more or less be the same in structure, just that it will be stretching each segment longer because of the length of pieces the learners are performing and dissecting in class. Next thing we will tackle is how to maximize the effectiveness of a lesson. We all know that the most common setting for music lessons will be once a week, and the parent’s role is vital in maximizing what they have learned in the four corners of the music studio. One principle we should always imply is that frequency of practice is greater in value than a one-time big-time practice. This is for the reason that, playing guitar (or any instrument) relies on mental understanding, as well as muscle memory, and the most effective way to engrave it into your muscles is to do it everyday. One tip for beginners is to practice the designated homework for at least 15 minutes everyday. As the habit and stamina for daily practice increase, we can then move forward to adding 5 mins every 2 weeks; until the learning doesn’t have to be reminded and to a point where he or she knows it is very beneficial for him or her. Parents are also encouraged to use positive words, so as it will not feel like practicing is a task for the young learners. Lastly, to encourage the parents together with their children, we would like to give an opinion on one of the most frequently asked questions about the guitar. Is learning and playing the guitar difficult? How long will it take me to play a song that I like? Well, let’s find out! First, the guitar is an amazing instrument and kids are, most of the time, fascinated by the sound it creates and how it is used to play songs that they hear on the radio. These little joys overpower difficulties that students end up not noticing that what they are actually executing is very challenging. So, our answer is, find a teacher that sparks fun, and enkindles your child’s enthusiasm and surely, it will be easy to learn the guitar! Secondly, students are able to play some of the most famous pop songs in just 2 to 3 lessons, given that the song plays the 4 basic chords, G, C, Em, and D. These four chords are like a magic formula to pop songs that if you switch them around, you’ll end up playing another pop song. Then from there, when the child appreciates how she can play the songs that he or she likes, and ends up asking the teacher for a new song and it happens to have one new chord, more often than not, the student will be okay to try the new chord! And from this pattern, you get to add one new chord at a time to the learner’s “guitar chord collection” that he or she can play from memory. The general comment for an amazing experience for the learner’s lesson is to really be able to find a teacher that has great chemistry with your child. This is what Aureus Academy is known for, and surely we will be able to suggest one from our highly accomplished teachers. We hope that this article was able to point out guides for a smooth beginning of your child’s musical journey and we hope that Aureus Academy will be part of honing your child’s adventures in making music! Yay!

Aureus Academy