Tips for getting younger kids playing guitar.

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by BigGee, May 5, 2016.

  1. BigGee

    BigGee Member

    Messages:
    377
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Hi All,

    I've spent some time teaching kids and volunteering to teach group classes at the YMCA, but in most cases the kids are at least 10.

    I'm having a struggle with an 8 year girl, "that wants to be like Taylor" Anyway, I've meet with her for about 8 20-30 min lessons. She understands, and can identify the notes b,c,d,e,f,g on the b & e strings. She can also identify them on the staff, and understands the duration of a quarter, half, and whole notes.

    Here's where the problem comes in, even trying to have her sight read, say two to four measures, she really struggles. I thought I'd take a break from this and move into a G & Em chord with quarter note downward strumming. She also struggles with this also. This is the second time I've worked with a younger girl, and both have been unsuccessful. One quit, and I think this girl is about to also.

    Any suggestions or app/games you might suggest to develop her interest and build these basic skills? I've also talked to the mom about practice time. Currently, she just goes to her room to practice for 15 min a couple times a day. I suggested she practice in a room with mom or dad. I also thought of recording a short video of the exercises being played correctly, so she would have some reference of what the goal should sound like.

    Ideas?
     
  2. T Dizz

    T Dizz Member

    Messages:
    18,023
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2015
    Location:
    Erotic City MN
    teach her one chord of a TS song, anything to get her on board
     
    dsimon665 likes this.
  3. Rezin

    Rezin Member

    Messages:
    2,074
    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2015
    Might be too young -- that happens. I'd forget all the note-learning stuff, find a TS song you could do with three open chords, and just work on that. Once you get her singing easy stuff, maybe her curiosity will get her working on the more advanced things.
     
    cheapgtrs likes this.
  4. carlosmucho

    carlosmucho Member

    Messages:
    194
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2013
    If my first teacher had me memorizing the notes on the fretboard and sight reading instead of playing easy songs I liked, I might have quit too! Teach her a strummy TS song or, if she can't do the chords right now, just how to play the melody. I bet you she'd get 100x the joy from playing the melody to Wildest Dreams than learning to count rhythms. It's gotta be fun for kids. The girl wants TS, give her TS! And thanks for volunteering!
     
    Paleolith54 likes this.
  5. BigGee

    BigGee Member

    Messages:
    377
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Since I really don't know many Taylor Swift songs, are there any suggestions for the ones with the fewest chords?
     
  6. CactusWren

    CactusWren Member

    Messages:
    772
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Location:
    Tempe, AZ
    Why would you have a kid who wants to play pop/rock guitar sight read? I would have quit, too. You've squandered a lot of her patience already. My daughter has been playing classical piano for over 3 years and she's still only barely getting into sight reading. The ear and motor skills are way more important.

    The way to go is find the music she likes and teach it to her by rote. Most people love to play things they know or recognize. I hear that "Bubbly" is a good one to start with for girls. You could have her record a vid on her phone on the off chance that she actually practices between lessons.

    Some people like to make their own music. My daughter is like that. She only knows Em and Am, but she will happily improvise words and play on that for a long time, as long as someone is listening.

    It is a tougher sell for girls, since they don't need to play guitar in order to get a boyfriend.
     
  7. BigGee

    BigGee Member

    Messages:
    377
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2010
    Ya, mom wanted her to read music.
     
    dsimon665 likes this.
  8. Steve Hotra

    Steve Hotra Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,538
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Location:
    Camas WA.
    Here are a few random thoughts ( in between teaching my students )
    I would start with a simpler guitar instruction book, that has simple chord songs and single note melodies.
    I held a demo lesson for a five year old, whose mom insisted he was ready for lessons. No way, he couldn't stay focused even with a Alfred beginning guitar book for kids. I suggested that they start lessons in the fall.

    My 10 to 12 year old students need songs to play with. I found a few basic versions of TS online. Some of her songs can be tough for a beginner. You just want her to pick up the guitar and get some time with it.

    I am finding that I have to " motivate " my younger students by just listening to them, asking them about other things besides music. Once you develop a good teacher / student relationship, you can push them a little more.
     
    SPH77 likes this.
  9. straightblues

    straightblues Member

    Messages:
    9,060
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Location:
    The LBC
    I agree with the others. Get her playing songs. Teach her a little reading and such as well, but make sure she gets songs.

    Check out guitar tabs. I am sure you can find a Taylor Swift song you guys could do.

    https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/tabs/taylor_swift_tabs.htm

    Check out this site. He teaches how to play a bunch of songs with just three chords. He has simplified the chords in many cases to make it easier for beginner. I have used this site with the people I have been teaching with good results.

    https://threechordguitar.wordpress.com/category/three-chord-guitar-videos/
     
    Steve Hotra likes this.
  10. Steve Hotra

    Steve Hotra Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,538
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Location:
    Camas WA.
    Great tips.
    Thanks for the lead,
     
  11. SPH77

    SPH77 Member

    Messages:
    454
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2012
    Location:
    North Texas
    Hey man!

    I teach quite a few kids that like Taylor. One Taylor tune I teach a lot is the intro and some of the vocal melody to "You Belong With Me". Most kids can play some single note melodies long before they can make chord changes. Even after they can make some changes, some kids aren't happy because the can't hear the "song". Or the melody. I agree with other comments regarding teaching notes on the neck. I'd hold off until she is interested in that kind of stuff. I have some other students that can sing and play great... and still don't care at all about learning notes. They just want to play and perform. I try to push learning music, but at the end of the day I do my best to respect what they want to get out of it.

    Go to sheetmusicdirect.net. You can buy "Easy Guitar Tabs" for a little over a dollar and then print them. I like using real sheet music as opposed to internet tabs because you can also slowly try to teach things like reading rhythms (the songs have tab and notation) and chords as the chords are also above the measures.

    "You Belong With Me" has a simple intro and fairly simple vocal melody. Usually kids are ready for it at their 2nd or 3rd lesson.

    Song other ideas for that age group
    Counting Stars
    Payphone
    Radioactive
    Rude

    Those come to mind at the moment and can all be found at the website I mentioned.

    My two cents!
     
  12. CactusWren

    CactusWren Member

    Messages:
    772
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Location:
    Tempe, AZ
    Understood. Parent management is a part of the game. And we thought it was all about music...
     
  13. ArchDukeOfTops

    ArchDukeOfTops Member

    Messages:
    860
    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2012
    I just put this in my quote index. Had to google who said it. I'd never heard it before. Good stuff.
     
    iim7V7I7 likes this.
  14. Steve Hotra

    Steve Hotra Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,538
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Location:
    Camas WA.
    It sure is.
     
  15. Guitardave

    Guitardave Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,808
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Location:
    Benicia, CA
    Pick one song, work on a simplified melody with the strings she's already mastered. Once the melody is ready, move on to simplified chords. Teach her how to figure out on her own any simple melodies (nursery rhymes like "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" is an easy one) and write out the notes on a blank staff. Figuring things out on their own and writing them out really cements things for them and it will help the parents relate because it's tangible. Otherwise they can only judge how much playing progress she's made and not all kids are mechanically gifted. And encourage her to sing the notes as she plays them.
     
  16. Bryan T

    Bryan T guitar owner Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    17,404
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2002
    I started too young and quit. I just wasn't into music yet. I'm cognizant of that when taking on new, young students. I try to give them the fundamentals so that when/if they do get into it, they can succeed.
     
  17. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

    Messages:
    18,156
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    The best thing is to start with at least a year of piano.
     
    Clifford-D and dsimon665 like this.
  18. jkendrick

    jkendrick Member

    Messages:
    8,297
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2014
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    My 3 year old twin boys are in piano lessons and love it. All three of us do the lessons together with the teacher. It's very Suzuki and we just play games mostly. But they are learning the notes on the keyboard and learning rhythm. If one or both of them aren't into it one week, we don't force it. One of my boys loves the music from Star Wars (not the movies just the music), the Imperial March in particular. One of the big reasons he's interested in piano is that he's learning to play that song. So while my boys are much much younger, I think the same ideas apply. Have fun and make sure it's not a chore and find something the kids really want to learn.
     
  19. Oldschool59

    Oldschool59 Member

    Messages:
    1,398
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2009
    I wanted to get my young daughter to play guitar. So I bought her a small Squier Strat, a small amp, etc, figuring that if she sees daddy play, she'll want to emulate me... I sat down with her a few times, to teacher her to hold the guitar, to position her L hand, to hold the pick, etc. Started working on a few single note melodies, nothing seemed to «stick» for lack of a better word. And then I heard her talk with her friends about this Bieber song... Love Yourself. Now, I'm definitely not a belieber my self, so I kinda stepped on my pride, and taught her the guitar part. Very simple, basic stuff (two-note chord progs, etc...) My daughter LOVED it. It was simple to pick up, it actually sounded just like the real song, and she could play it in front of her friends. She got hooked, wanted to learn the whole song, including the horn-like little solo, etc... And now, she's looking into Led Zep and Deep Purple! She's even eyeing some of the more colorful pedals on my board ;-) I guess the moral of this story is: anything to get them hooked! Find the gateway drug and fire away. But it needs to be fun, and allow the young one to make «music».
     
    Guitardave likes this.
  20. JonR

    JonR Member

    Messages:
    12,771
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Location:
    London
    This!

    They have to be able to play something they recognise, ASAP. It could be twinkle twinkle, happy birthday, the simpsons theme, mission impossible - something easy in single notes. You can still use notation (combined with tab of course) to keep mom happy. And mom will be even happier when she can play a tune mom can recognise, rather than a Taylor Swift song (or is mom also a TS fan?).

    I did once have a girl student about 9 who was into Taylor Swift. She was highly self-motivated because of that, and compiled her own song sheets from internet printouts. I agree You Belong With Me is simple enough - even the chords are easy enough (D A Em G), although you need capo on 4 for the original key (which makes finger stretches easier anyway). I also took her through Speak Now (melody only). Blank Space is a popular one with a couple of current 8-year-olds I have (capo 3, D Bm Em A7 G).
     
    SPH77 likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice