....or "What to expect, when you're expecting.... to play guitar"
A Simple Plan
Rewards & Bribes
The other "C" word
Happily ever guitarra
As part of my series on getting started with guitar, last time we looked at motivation, in this post we take the next step....
Whether for kids or adults, consistency is critical in terms of the enjoyment and satisfaction of guitar lessons/playing. This is because motivation is directly related to consistency (see my previous blog for more info).
Even with a little practice everyday (5mins or so) this gives consistency, which then feeds into progress, equaling motivation.
I wouldn't dream of telling a parent how to raise their own kids, so here's just a bit of my guitar teaching philosophy based on my experience. If there is anything new or different that can be used for you or your child’s guitar lessons I hope it helps.
Having taught and studied guitar for many years (as well as having been a swimming coach), a common theme often arises. As most of you would already know, children need a balance of freedom and boundaries. They actually find a level of safety & protection in knowing where clearly defined boundaries lay. They can tend to get a bit lost when this is unclear. Obviously they do need to push against these boundaries from time to time, it helps them understand and remember their place in the world (or specifically, within their world).
In a lot of ways adults are the same, we feel comfort with a certain level of consistency, then we can relax and "get on with the job".
So, how do we translate this to guitar?
Here's a Simple Plan.....
Create a regular schedule for guitar playing time
(I would emphasize saying "guitar playing" instead of "practice", as people generally have negative associations with that word)
For parents with young children, it can be beneficial if you can spend 5mins sitting with them. It shows them you are interested, and can help with their motivation.
Everyday at 7am (5mins)
Keep it short (use a countdown timer with alarm to keep the session to time) - better they & you leave wanting more each day....
1) Use the games: e.g. Musical Hide and Seek (1min), Rhythmic Copy Cat (1min)
2) Play songs - see Beginner song sheet. (1min)
3) Fun/Free play (2mins) -
Options: Make a simple song (based on a simple story),
or Say a word (colour/feeling etc) and have them play a sound that fits with that.
or just let them explore making sounds on the guitar.
This is about getting comfortable on guitar, keeping it short, & fun!
I’m happy to help you work out a tailor made plan, just ask at the next lesson.
Always have a goal to work towards! Having something to aim for is obviously incredibly important, since it gives you a sense of purpose.
*Every month have a mini family concert where you or they perform a song or two (short & simple pieces are fine, the important thing is just doing it, and enjoying it)
*Jamming with friends & family
*Joining the school band is a great
*Busking at the local shops
*Performing at school
*Get a gig! (You even get paid too!)
Rewards & Bribes
I'm all for rewards as long as the goal is a positive/character building lesson. (Discipline, improvement, passion, fun, responsibility, problem solving, team work.....etc.) Playing guitar has taught me many great lessons, and continues too!
My mum used to get me little "micro machine" cars (remember those??) at the end of every three month period of lessons in the early days, just cheap, small rewards.
It was a nice little "cherry on the top", recognising the effort I had made. As adults we know that it's a nice feeling when someone recognises your hard work, right?
(e.g. a new guitar for xmas/birthday is always a good long term goal)
Make sure that the “goal” is achieved before the reward is given. You would be surprised how many people get these steps mixed up and put the cart before the horse!
(…or give the carrot to the horse too early… or however that analogy goes, you get my meaning hopefully! Lol)
....AND don't forget, us adults deserve rewards too! When you achieve a goal, do something like going to dinner somewhere nice, buy that new album you were wanting, buy that sweet Fender Strat guitar you've been eyeing off for the last year!
The other "C" word..... no, not consistency.
It's Commitment! (or Time Frame for Results)
To give yourself or your child truly the best opportunity to see where guitar can go, I generally recommend committing yourselve/s to it for 1 year.
The reason is, guitar needs to be a habit. It is really not worth the effort to think of guitar as a short term project. As I mentioned in the last blog post, it takes time for your body and mind to develop the skills needed to play the guitar. You are really just setting yourself up for failure by “trying it out” for just a couple of months.
It takes 3-6 months to start to get used to any new habit. Then after about 6 - 9 months you should be in a routine, building your skills and knowledge.
In 12 months time you will have gained a tremendous sense of achievement and skill. ....maybe you will even want to keep playing guitar for a few more years, & possibly for the rest of your life! Wow, imagine that!!!
This is an extract written by legendary L.A session (studio) guitarist & music educator, Howard Roberts.*
The truth is there is no magic pill for guitar, no black belt in 12 weeks, no get rich quick nonsense, it's about just grabbing the guitar and doing it!
If anything, our magic pill is consistency. Which as I said in the beginning feeds into progress, equalling motivation, resulting in all the great things we associate with guitar playing!
Remember, guitar is not rocket science, far from it! I honestly believe anyone can do it.
You will have doubts & fears, and you will create all kinds of excuses to stop playing (that's only natural for most of us).
However, just remember what we have talked about here.
A Simple Plan
Rewards & Bribes
The other "C" word (...Commitment)
Ever heard the story of the man who followed these simple steps?
He lived happily ever guitarra!!!
Anyway, hope this helps you create a clearer idea of playing guitar, if you have any questions please send me an email, or ask me in your next lesson.
*Extract from Howard Roberts no nonsense book Jazz Guitar in 20 Weeks. Even if you have no intention of being a professional jazz guitarist, or doing no more than playing guitar for your own saisfaction, this "Growth Process" is the same for any activity you do.