Saturday, October 19, 2019

12 Bar Blues Revisited, pt. I

This month I’d like to revisit and build upon an older series of posts which pertained to the 12 bar blues (I, II, III, IV) and Cowboy Chords (I, II, III, IV). In those series of posts each topic was dealt with separately (as they should be), but it had recently occurred to me that I had not combined the two.

I have a general order in which I like to introduce skills and topics to my students. Moreover, I like to combine the topics so that they have relevance to the student and they fully understand how they relate to one another. My point is that while students are learning a skill such as playing a 12 bar blues (using open power chords), they are also simultaneously learning to finger open position chords. So it is then pedagogically correct to then combine the 12 bar blues and open chord study together. Additionally, this is also a good time to review the concept of rhythm charts with your students. Attached is a sample 12 Bar Blues in A to use with your students.

Next month I’ll dig a little deeper and review how we apply what the student has been learning so far.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Teaching Young Children, pt. XI – The Power of Repetition

In this final installment of Teaching Young Children I wanted to remind guitar instructors of the power of repetition. Repetition is the life blood of musicians which helps to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to play an instrument well. No one learns something having never done it or only having done it once. If it takes numerous times of trial and error to develop skills in an adult; why would it not be the same for children?

A number of years ago I was giving a lecture on teaching studio guitar and was approached by a college age student who had begun teaching the guitar. She thanked me for the lecture and for letting her know it was alright to repeat material in not one, but in subsequent lessons. I asked her to elaborate and she informed me that she felt the need to present new material each lesson for her young students!

We discussed the importance of reviewing material each week and not being afraid to cover the same material for several weeks until the student is competent with it. Then introducing new material which builds upon what has been previously learned. Moreover, any previously learned material should constantly be reviewed at the start of each lesson. This is a good “warm-up” and will not only help reinforce skills, create a “repertoire” of songs for the student to play!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Teaching Young Children, pt. X – Book Suggestion

As I begin to wrap up the series of posts Teaching Young Children I wanted to discuss my favorite book to use with young students Aaron Shearer: Learning the Classic Guitar, Pt. Two. The book title may be deceiving as I do not always teach my younger students classical guitar; however, this is an excellent book for getting young students started playing the guitar no matter what the style.


One of the things I really enjoy about this book is that from the start students are playing music - short simple duets which have a student and teacher part. The students begin with two note songs using the G and D strings with combinations of quarter and eighth note rhythms. Each musical selection is approximately eight measures in length making it easy for young learners to follow along with. I particularly like that the book progresses in a thought out pedagogical manner when adding new notes, solo music selections and well as longer pieces of music.


If you are a guitar teacher looking for a good approach to teaching younger students the guidelines laid out in this series should help create a sound pedagogical starting point. Moreover, Aaron Shearer's Learning the Classic Guitar, Pt.2 will help by supplying musical selections which are challenging, fun and developmentally appropriate. Once you have a solid foundation in regards to teaching young players you can then add to it and develop your own.