Teacing neighbor's son - what's first?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by dwes, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. dwes

    dwes Member

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    Hi folks,
    As a favor to a good kid, I've offered to give him weekly lessons. Any idea where to start? He's had a guitar for about a year, is 10 yrs old, and knows very little. I was thinking pentatonic scales, but don't want to bore him.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Dave
     
  2. Copper_Head

    Copper_Head Supporting Member

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    Start with just a little bit of music theory, names of the strings and the notes on the first 5 frets, notate everything out on tab.
    If he's had band in elementary school, he will be light years beyond a raw beginner with no clue on theory to begin with.
    If he can catch on to tab, and chord diagrams, in the future you can leave him with things to work on.
    Teach him some real basic tunes in a major scale on the top 3 strings, "Lightly Row" and that type of thing, again writing down the notes and tab.
    IMO pentatonic scales are the worst thing to start a young beginner out on, I would start with major scales.
    Simple open chords at first.
    Then as soon as he can switch proficiently and play "F" chord, start with barre chords.
    Then start introducing minor and other scales. If he has some natural ability and practices, at the age of 10, he should be able to be at that point in 6 months.
    A good foundation in basic music theory is very important and will accelerate his learning in the future. With my students, it's real easy to tell who has played an instrument in band or orchestra in school, They catch on to everything so much faster because they have that foundation.
     
  3. dwes

    dwes Member

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    Beautiful! Thanks for the advice.
    Dave
     
  4. SteveSchu

    SteveSchu Member

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    I taught a grown co-worker and his friend who wanted to form a band and enter their church's talent contest. I taught them 3 chords in the open position, E, A, and D and the song "Wildthing." They only wanted one song to play so the idea was simple, quick results. I think that concept would work on a ten year old as a start. The F chord is the most difficult to finger.....why start there? It will only lead to frustration. Barre chords? I found them difficult to play when beginning (like the open F). See that the kid has a PLAYABLE guitar suitable for his size and his hand. I was once told by a guitar salesman that cheap guitars are made for parents to buy for their kids to discourage them from playing. The pain and agony of learning to play a guitar with the strings 1/2 of an inch above the fretboard will hinder all but the most persistant learners.
     
  5. Copper_Head

    Copper_Head Supporting Member

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    I guess I should clarify, because you missed what I said.
    Start with simple open chords (D - A - G - E)
    As he progresses, add the others, lastly "F".
    When he can play the open chords and switch proficiently, including a progression that would include "F", then it is time to add barre chords, first one probably being Bb on fret 1.
     
  6. rustneversleeps

    rustneversleeps Member

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    Maybe follow along with one of those Hal Leonard guitar method books. IMO they're very easy and concise for the beginner.
     
  7. diego

    diego Member

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    Make sure his guitar is playable!
     
  8. straightblues

    straightblues Member

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    I would teach him three basic open chords. Then I would teach him to play about 10 songs with those three chords. That will get him hooked and keep him interested. From there on out you can teach him scales and bar chords. Get him hooked first.
     
  9. Mark C

    Mark C Member

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    I like to teach beginners "Hey Joe", because it forces them to learn the five major open chord forms. I first teach them the chords, how to read a chord diagram and how to make sure all the notes are ringing (teach them to arpeggiate the chord to hear all the notes). Once they can play the chords, I have them practice switching chords, starting with C to G, learning one move at a time. (CGDAE) The last step is to get them to switch chords to a beat, so I start slow and have them play only the first beat of each chord change, using the other beats to give them more time to switch. Hey Joe has four measures, with two chords per measure for the first two measures which means each chord lasts two beats. So they have to learn to play on beats one and three, using beats two and four to give them more time to switch chords. I start with a very slow beat, and as they learn it, gradually speed it up. The last step is to have them strum a chord on all beats, which means they've mastered changing the chords.

    For some, changing chords every two beats is too fast, so I'll give them a song that has one chord every measure and have them only play the first beat, using beats two three and four to get ready for the next chord. Doing this teaches them to play to a beat and also teaches them how to put these chords into the context of playing a song.

    For single note playing, I like to pick out an easy song and again have them learn to play it to the beat. Some have a natural feel for this, and don't really need to spend a lot of time learning rhythm - for others, I diagram the rhythm underneath the notes, writing the number for each beat underneath the corresponding note (or tab) and using a plus sign for an eighth note offbeat.

    I teach them to tap their feet - when the foot goes down, that's on the beat and they strum or pick down. When the foot is up, that's an eighth note, or offbeat, and they strum or pick up. I make them learn this as a rule but tell them they'll eventually be allowed to break it.

    I teach lots of beginners, and these methods work pretty well to get them started. There's lots of other valuable methods that can be used, but I've found that beginners often benefit a lot from being taught a strong sense of rhythm and timing.
     
  10. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

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    If the person is really gifted, and you are asking these kinds of questions... please don't be offended, but maybe a more experienced music teacher is the answer.

    One of the kids who plays bass in my church is an AMAZINGLY gifted musician. I am so thankful that the actual lessons he's getting are coming from a really great teacher and not me...
     
  11. avincent52`

    avincent52` Member

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    I would try to teach him to play a few simple riffs, like Smoke on the water, Sunshine of Your Love, maybe Smells Like Teen Spirit. It gives him a sense of accomplishment, instant gratification.
    Then a couple songs with easy chords--Heart of Gold or whatever.
    This is what my 10-year old learned in his lessons.
    He went through a couple of teachers who tried to teach him a little theory, a little songwriting, whatever.
    His third teacher said, let's play Hendrix, Clapton, the Beatles. And it's working as well as expanding his knowledge of music.
     
  12. guitarmook

    guitarmook Member

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    When I started, it was the notes on the guitar (EADGBE) and on the strings, and the basics of theory (WWH, WWWH) so I could understand the concept of I-IV-V, etc.

    AND, at the same time, the basic 'cowboy' chords (EADGC) and some simple songs that I could use to start learning to switch chords. My first song was Bad Moon Risin (DGA)

    When I could actually hear something musical happening, then it was barre chords and scales.

    What does the kid listen to, what does he want to play? If you can find some simple 3-chord songs that he actually KNOWS, it's easier to get them hooked.
     
  13. alivegy

    alivegy Member

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    Definitely ask him what he is interested in and what he wants to play so he stays interested and motivated.
     
  14. imonabuss

    imonabuss Supporting Member

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    I agree with alivegy and others Ask what he wants to play then stretch yourself in teaching him how to get there. I have a son that wanted to play piano, but the first two times he had lessons he quickly quit because they were marching him one little step at a time learning row row your boat and stuff. But he was always singing songs and loved music.

    At 13 years old I hooked him up with a crazy hippyish guy who has played every kind of music and is way cool. This guy asked him what he wanted to learn, and he said "Broadway songs". So the first freakin' thing he learned was from "Cats". He watched and memorized because he didn't want to learn to read.

    Within a year he was playing stuff like "The Crave" by Jelly Roll Morton. And I mean well, really well. Of course by then he had realized he needed to read music and so then the guy taught him. You oughta hear him now at 17. He can read, he can play off the radio, he had a lead role in a musical, writes his own music, he plays for money in restaurants, etc, etc. He kicks my butt musically in every way.

    Best thing I ever lucked into was a teacher who taught instead of forcing memorization. I have a lot of elementary and high school teachers in my family, and they all talk about the lack of flexibility in teaching ruining all the kids with potential. Same applies oin music.
     
  15. buddastrat

    buddastrat Member

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    Hit it on the head. That's exactly what you want to do. No scales right now. Not even notes. He's 10 years old. A few riffs and songs of what HE likes.

    Maybe their favorite tunes from Guitar Hero. Or if he likes sports, teach him the melody for Take Me Out To the Ball Game or the sports chant thing from baseball games. Show him tab, proper fingering, and simple melodies to develop some motor skills. A scale isn't bad, but will most likely bore him.

    I have a 10 yr. old student and he loves Johnny Cash, so we learn simple stuff like Wildwood Flower melodies, and get some fingering going and then move onto some simplified Cash songs now.
     

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