At MayosMusic we offer Private, Semi-Private and Group guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo, fretted instrument and auto-harp lessons. Plus, we are a complete luthier service that includes guitar and amplifier repairs/restorations. Through the years we have been asked numerous "Guitar Lesson" and "Guitar Repair" related questions (many repeatedly) by new/current/old and prospective students and customers. Here is our answer to: How do you teach different age groups?
Most young children have a short attention span and usually do best with 30 minute lessons. There are exceptions.
For a very young child, 5-6 years old, there are three prerequisite points needed before they are ready to begin studying the guitar. Those are:
Young children, when first studying the guitar, do best when learning standard notation (notes/single string melody). The reason for this is that their hand size is small and often weak and this makes starting with chords more difficult. As the student develops strength and coordination of finger movement, they will progress easily and smoothly to chords and rhythms. Also, the study of standard notation along with basic music theory will build the best foundation to continue advanced guitar studies as they grow older.
Along with single note (melody) playing, as your instructor, I will introduce vocalizing (singing) while playing from the very beginning as I find this is the best way to develop the “musical ear”. It has been said by many a professional musician that “a musician is only as good as his/her ear” and I truly believe this.
The last topic… “the book.” Unlike an adult instruction book that moves very quickly from one concept to the next, a child's instruction book will move slower, and will repeat with more examples to practice before moving on to the next concept. This style of teaching is needed when working with younger students.
Through my years as a guitar instructor, and my association with Marshall Music (one of the largest sheet music dealers in the nation), I have the resources to know all the publishers of music and music instruction books. I only choose and recommend the most appropriate / best for each student.
Most teenagers and adult students can share the same teaching program, whether they start with note-reading, chord/rhythm studies, or lead improvising. The main difference will be in choosing the style of music and appropriate songs to learn when applying musical concepts such as chords, scales, arpeggios, modes, etc.
Understand, that when a teacher only shows songs or parts or songs, they are not really teaching guitar. The instructor must include teaching the instrument itself, musical concepts, music theory, ear training, and the theories for understanding styles and thus how to apply them all, to songs. This creates a well rounded, accomplished musician, which comes from choosing the right musical instructor.
With teenage and adult students, starting with chord and rhythm studies will best prepare and progress the student to the next learning level. By starting with chords and rhythm studies you'll best develop the correct rhythm movement in the strumming hand and that is important and fundamental to all musical styles and techniques (ie: chords and rhythm, lead improvising, scales, arpeggios, etc.).