q question for the experienced guitar teachers on tgp

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by jb70, Jan 6, 2008.


  1. jb70

    jb70 Member

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    i currently have a lot of guitar students in the 9-14 year old range. these students have been with me for a couple of years now and are at the intermediate level. they can play everything in the first 2 hal leonard guitar method books with the metronome without making too many mistakes. this means they understand 8th notes, 16th notes, basic syncopated rhythms and can play in 5 or 6 keys in the 1st and 2nd positions. i also use the first 2 ez pop melodies (hal leonard) as supplemental material at the same time.

    if these students are old/mature enough at this point (usually high school age), i usually get them into either the first berklee book or a book called "new guitar techniques for sightreading" by arnie berle. the first section of this book has the students reading notes up and down each string which is a bit much for the typical 11 or 12 year old. i would consider both of these books to be in the advanced high school/beginning college level category.

    have any of you stumbled upon any materials for these younger, more advanced/intermediate students?

    thanks.

    jack
     
  2. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Is the focus here on reading music? Are they primarily electric pick-style players?

    I don't know Berle's reading book, but I've heard good things...the Berklee method books would be really great to get them going on.

    Another thing I would suggest is arranging ensembles for several of them to play in at a time. There are many arrangements published for four to six guitars that would probably be a blast for someone at that age range - pop tunes, classical, jazz tunes, etc. If you want to PM me for details I can give you some leads on a few.

    To me, it sounds like I'd start pushing repetoire in a big way.

    Congrats, man - this is a great thing you're doing for these kids, even if they never become pro guitar players.
     
  3. Mark Wein

    Mark Wein Member

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    I'd agree on the Berklee book, but even more so with the repertoire...what styles of music are they playing?
     
  4. jb70

    jb70 Member

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    hey ken,
    thanks a lot for your response. yes, they are all pick style players (a few of them play with their thumbs- wes style). they are 10, 11, and 12 year olds so they really aren't interested in jazz or classical music. most of them just listen to whatever is on the radio.

    i have them working on the basic chords in the 1st and 2nd positions but many of them struggle since their hands are so small. barre chords are out of the question. the berklee book is tough for them because it starts with reading 3 note chords and it's a big jump coming from the hal leonard method book 2.

    one of the more advanced kids plays in a small jazz ensemble so we are able to work on some easier jazz tunes but the rest of them have no interest in jazz yet. they are just starting to become aware of what their friends are into and it's mostly hip hop and newer rock stuff.

    i mainly want them to keep on reading and to keep progressing but most of them are at a weird inbetween stage where they have mastered the easier stuff but aren't quite ready for college level material.

    maybe i should start writing a book.....hmmmm......
     
  5. Mark Wein

    Mark Wein Member

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    It sounds like you should start writing material for them t work on. I started that a few years ago and it turned into a method book I use with all of my students now...
     
  6. jb70

    jb70 Member

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    mark- excellent idea. i do write things out for them but haven't organized any of the material into a book. is your method book for beginners or for the ages and level that i just wrote about? thanks!

    jack
     
  7. Mark Wein

    Mark Wein Member

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    My book is more for beginners through intermediate, but it is a balance of note reading and rhythm guitar playing. It sounds like your students might be far enough along that they won't get too much from it.

    I started out by putting the lessons I was teaching the most into Finale and having clean, organized material to give my students. After a certain point I realized that I was more than halfway to having an actual book so I just wrote a bunch of stuff to fill in what was missing and had some printed locally. After working out of it for a couple of years I fixed what wasn't working and self published it....its nice to have what I need to teach in the order I want to teach it in. I also have a house book in the studio of arrangements of popular songs (well, mostly classic rock) that illustrate various lessons in the book...that way there is a direct link from the theory and reading to complete songs that the student can play...
     
  8. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    Hey jb70

    I also have a similar student load.
    I seem to be a different type of teacher than you.

    First of all, I have never used the books you mention.
    Why? Because books don't respond. My lessons are interactive.

    The first thing I do is ask "What do you want to do today"
    This is not because I lack structure, I have tons of structure.
    It's because I want to empower them with the power of choice.

    Given choice, they often gravitate towards learning their favorite
    music. Greenday probably heads the list. I don't care, I provide no value
    judgement on their musical choices.

    As I put the 'Greenday' on paper, I have a choice as to how theoretical
    we get. Do I write out the rhythms or do I just write it in the simplist Tab.

    I would say 9 out 10 students show little interest in reading, in the beginning.
    The ones that do think that way because that's what they heard somewhere
    in their past. Perhaps "The 5,000 fingers of Dr ????"
    However they do, they acquire the belief that reading is the only way to truly
    advance in music..
    This is so wrong. imo.
    There are so many more important aspects of music performance to deal with.
    Reading is way down the list.
    In fact, for the most part, practise is the only place reading should occur.
    Unless you're playing in an orchestra or big band, chaber music etc...
    That is not what I'm talking about.
    Jamming, playing with others and interacting, that's what I'm talking about.
    that can't be taught through reading.
    Again I'm talking about 9 out of 10. kids.
    They want to be in a rock band.

    I teach in a high school jazz band, all the horn players only know reading.
    Take the music away and they stop. Mystified. They don't really know
    what music is. What could come from their soul. But all they know is reading.

    Back to guitar lessons,
    The first thing I do is to draw a straight line to the students interest.
    Get them turned on. Have them experience 'success' with their interests.

    After a while, months or years later, they develope interest in the
    inner workings of music and guitar. Reading, theory concepts, etc...

    Taking my route developes the 'ear' and improvisitory skills. Both
    I feel are far more important to the 12/14 yr old than reading.
    - Improvisitory means they explore, noodle all the time.

    I have students from time to timethat always put their guitar down
    whenever possible.Like it's painful to hold or something.
    These are the people that might enjoy the structure of a Hal Leanard book.
    Again, I let them lead me. Historically these people don't do so good.
    Too many controls on them, who knows. They quit or often sound bad. imo
    (I never tell someone they sound bad)

    I don't prescribe, I let my students prescribe. That puts even more responsibility
    on me to get it right.

    Also, I write a lot of paper, a ream a month. Even if I could have photocopied a
    common writing. I usually don't. I write it out with the student. Get them used to writing.
    More than reading I promote writing.

    But just ask the student what they like, what they would like to play,
    what drew them to the guitar in the first place,
    and make that the lesson.

    I never cloud their embryonic vision with "you must read first"
    yuk. "where's the door. I came here because I like metal".
    But hanging out with me, they always hear me demonstrate
    techniques or harmonies that lead into theory discussions.

    My approach means that every student is treated
    as an individual, not just part of a class activity.
    Class music study is something else all together.
    Private lessons should be personalized to the
    individual.

    Ok, backlash time :)
    Bring it on.


    ps, all those books you mentioned are great books
    great for self guided study. If so interested.
    A teacher can answer a question, then back to
    self study.



    What about my advanced students?
    I kick their/my butts with reading and advanced thinking.
    Tonight I'm reading Ralph Towner with my student Clay.
    Not easy reading at all.
    It slows me down big time, perfect for discussion. We talk about the technique
    the reading, we even use tab to work out fingerings.
    I'm up front that I can't read this stuff in real time.
    But that humility can actually benefit the student/teacher relationship.
    "We are in this together".
    And I'm like an expert with 'being in that spot'.
    I'm like this guy with a good sharp machette whacking a path through
    the jungle, creating a straight path through it.

    Or else I ain't doing my job as a teacher.









    .
     
  9. jb70

    jb70 Member

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    hey cliff,
    i never said that i didn't work on improvising with my students. we work on improvising and ear training all of the time. i also leave the last 3rd of the lesson open to work on whatever songs they want to learn. my post was specifically about reading materials for kids at this age and level.

    here's a question for you. you have a 13 year old kid that you've been teaching for a year or two and his only interest is in green day and whatever rock music he likes. he can play power chords, basic barre chords, he might be able to play basic solos using a pentatonic scale and can't read a lick of music. one week he comes in and says he has to audition for jazz band and hands you 3 charts. what are you going to do then?

    here's another one. same 13 year old kid..... kid gets a new guitar for xmas and the parents also buy him a book of easy xmas songs to play for the family after he gets his present. kid looks at the book like it's hieroglyphics and says he isn't being taught to read music. the parents are extremely upset that they are spending $30 a week on lessons and find a new teacher (and maybe call the store to complain).
     
  10. Mark Wein

    Mark Wein Member

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    I would just say that it's nice that students have a wide array of choices when choosing a guitar instructor.

    I've been teaching guitar for close to 20 years and I have an approach that works for me and the students who choose to work with me. At the moment I have around 50 private students and 7 performance classes in my studio...the students range from 7 years old to mid 60's, complete beginners to a guy who has his second album coming out on Warner Bros. records and wants to brush up on some skills...my online lesson sites get 2-300 hits a day...I don't think I'm doing anything wrong at this point...I also don't think that the OP is, either...it actually sounds like he is doing quite well with these kids, if you ask me...

    I have 3 other instructors in my studio and if my approach isn't what works for a student then they are free to try the other guys out. When people on the various forums ask about finding a teacher my advice is to try 2-3 of the local guys and settle on the one they feel works best for them.

    I think that it is possible to teach reading and aural skills at the same time. Much of my teaching is about internalizing music, or reducing it to more of a reaction than something you have to think your way through. Reading music sets up an understanding of pitch, time and technique that gets the student to that point more completely and much faster.

    Improvisation is something that I teach a lot of, but I try to make sure that the students know how to play complete songs and have solid rhythm guitar skills first. There is nothing I hate more than getting a student who has had a month or two of lessons with another teacher and all they have is a blues scale and some tabbed out song and no basic skills...

    The one thing I have never understood is why guitar is the one instrument where someone can make the argument AGAINST reading music and be taken seriously. With my youth students, they all have note reading assignments in their books as well as a binder full of songs that they are working on. Part of my job with kids is to make sure that they are getting structure when they need it. Adults are a different story...they are old enough to weigh my advice on what to learn and if they want to skip the note reading, they can (although I do have them learn to ready rhythms). Many of them end up backtracking after a while anyway. I also end up being the instructor that many people in the area go when they something a little more structured than their current lessons...


    I'm really not trying to pick a fight or anything, but with guitar instruction it really is "different strokes for different folks"...
     
  11. jb70

    jb70 Member

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    i think we have a similar teaching style mark. i like to have a nice balance in my lessons and it keeps the students interested for a long time. i've been teaching privately since 1991 and have had a lot kids from the time they were in elementary school all the way through high school.

    no more thread hijacking. this isn't about teaching methods. if you have your own method, and want to share it, please start another thread.
     
  12. Mark Wein

    Mark Wein Member

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    Sorry about the long post...I usually try to ignore posts like that but the reading/no reading arguments are getting old....:BITCH

    It is kind of nice to have students for that long, huh? The weird thing is when you have them at 12 or 13 and they come back at 22...I've also had a student or two who's performing career has eclipsed mine...I don't know how to feel about that...I must be getting old...
     
  13. shredtheater

    shredtheater Member

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    slight sidetrack here. What version of finale do you use to collate you idea/exercise etc for your lessons. I teach a little (mostly technique, learning rock/metal songs) so i would like to get my resources down in a more organized fashion rather than write them out everytime.
    cheers
     
  14. Mark Wein

    Mark Wein Member

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    I am using Finale 2006.

    Do you guys think we should have a guitar teacher thread just for stuff like this?
     
  15. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    You didn't mention improv. Just reading.
     
  16. jb70

    jb70 Member

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    yeah, i think an entire teacher/lessons section would be a good thing on tgp. i also don't want to get into a debate on reading vs. not reading. there was a long thread on here a few months ago and was completely ridiculous. "different strokes for different folks" is correct indeed.

    p.s. yes, it is very cool having students for a long time. you get to watch them grow up and see there tastes change. i currently have an 18 year old that started with me when he was 13. he came in as a green gay/nirvana fan and now he's into rush, yes, wes montgomery, django, etc... he also is very interested in music theory and has progessed light years in that dept. in just a couple of years. i haven't had any students come back after college yet. usually, they move away and get jobs, raise families, etc....
     
  17. jb70

    jb70 Member

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    yes, you are correct. that's what this entire post was about in the first place.
     
  18. Mark Wein

    Mark Wein Member

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    I started one here: http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?p=3466523#post3466523
     
  19. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    Good questions jb.

    Responding to the first part.
    If I'm doing my job, I would know the interests of the student.
    I always at some point talk about jazz band and have a number of them that are in the jazz band.

    It is true that the guitar and bass players are often the weak
    readers in the jazz band, but they choose to do good and they rize to the occasion by working their asses off to learn a part.
    They have a huge task of 'catch up' to equal the horns.

    But I'll tell you, after class, it's the guitars bass and drums that 'jam'
    and actually create by ear. Sometimes way too loud.

    When they have indicated they want to go for the band, then I tell them
    it's time to shift gears. It's time for them to look at me as the teacher.

    Now, again, I don't say it's time to focus on 'reading' instead we 'demystify'
    the mechanics of the instrument by learning fretboard systems like the CAGED Chord System and others.
    At the same time I start the student on a journey of understanding
    harmony and song structure. I show them chord scales using the CAGED chords. We analize the tunes in the class.
    All this can be layed out in a couple of sessions. Mastered over
    a longer period. It is definately a work in progress.
    Reading skills improve.

    But this is not what I was talking about in my last post.

    I was talking about a 13 yr old that wants to play guitar
    because his friends dig Greenday. Blasting the kid with a lot
    of "you must read first" is BS. That is not how you turn them on.
    1 in 10 might want to start out reading, maybe 1 in 15. The rest
    want to hang with their friends and play, not read, play.

    Second questions answer.
    If I lose a student because the parents are stuck in what is "proper music lessons" and my alternative approach
    doesn't jive with some BS notion of what they think lessons should be.
    You don't go to a Dr and tell them how to do brain surgery.
    If the child wants to read we read.
    If the child wants to plat Ironman
    but the parents want him to "have the proper" education, then we
    have a big problem. I don't let parents tell me how to run my teaching.
    The store I teach out of understands this and they know me, we are like family in the twenty years I've been teaching there, never working for the store, always teaching. But I'll answer the phone, help out. It's my job
    to clean the bathroom in exchange for rent reduction. Couldn't ask for more
    wonderful people to work with.
    But, yes one time some parent did call complaining about me missing an appt. Hey, it happens. He went to the owner, tried to get me canned.
    Man was I pissed. The nerve. A Psychologist. Scary if you ask me.

    I run a good business and provide a good product. 'cause I'm in charge.


    I've dumped more than one because of it. I got to maintain my integrity.
    I believe in what I do. That rubs off on my students.

    Aside from Jazz Band and my private lessons, I teach at another High School in a guitar class.
    No pay, just volunteer every week. It's a beginning class so the kids are
    taught, reading and playing simple songs, rhythm training, more reading.

    What Kyle, the teacher lets me do is take some kids into the other room
    and we talk about their interests like shred. Dragonforce. And I am a 'cool'
    adult that makes it ok to look at other kinds of shred. Maybe jazz.
    I know I blew some minds when I introduced them to Shawn Lane.
    And then I get to show them the CAGED Chords or some picking scheme.
    Because of the trust I built up.
    It's a cool class.
     
  20. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    I can totally relate.

    About the college thing.
     

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